Cleaner Industries Sought to Take the Place of Lockheed : Burbank: About 3% of the city’s acreage will become available for development when the defense firm moves out by the mid-1990s.


Burbank city officials want to see cleaner industries sprout on property vacated by departing Lockheed Corp., but pollution on the aerospace company’s land may mean no commercial centers will grow there for several years.

City officials are optimistic that Lockheed’s departure from the industrial area around Burbank Airport is the beginning of a “critical transitional phase” that will change not only the immediate area, but the face of Burbank as well.

The availability in the next five years of about 320 acres of Lockheed property between the airport and the Golden State Freeway will allow Burbank to re-create a part of itself, replacing heavy industries with cleaner retail and service firms, city officials hope.

The Burbank of smokestack industries “is clearly transitioning away,” City Manager Robert (Bud) Ovrom said.


What exactly will fill the gap left by Lockheed is still uncertain, but Burbank officials say the short-term harm caused by losing the city’s largest employer and biggest utility user will be outweighed by an influx of cleaner industries.

“The bottom-line truth is that when all is said and done, Burbank will emerge a stronger, better community,” Ovrom said.

The aerospace company announced May 8 that it will pull much of its operation out of Burbank by the mid-1990s and sell about 320 acres of its property, which will become available as Lockheed vacates. The property accounts for about 3% of the total acreage of Burbank, Mayor Tom Flavin said.

Most likely, Lockheed will not be the only company leaving Burbank. City officials said attendant industries that have depended on Lockheed for business may find it hard to survive. That will free even more land around the airport, which has been valued at about $1 million an acre.

For now, there is little in the way of specifics as to what will happen to the land. There is talk of a new airport terminal and a commercial center with office and retail space.

City officials are certain about one thing: they do not want new heavy industry to replace the old.

The Burbank City Council tonight will consider an ordinance that would impose temporary development controls on land between the airport and the Golden State Freeway. The ordinance is the first step in a long-term project to rezone the area and change the nature of business there from heavy industry to retail and light research and development.

City officials envision a commercial zone similar to the one surrounding John Wayne Airport in Orange County. City planner Rick Pruetz said he sees a commercial center serviced more by mass transit than by automobile traffic, with retail spaces lining property adjacent to the Golden State Freeway and research and development firms closer to the airport.

If approved, the ordinance would buy time for city planners to implement a permanent zoning change and develop a more specific plan for the area. It will go before the council again in 45 days, when the temporary development control ordinance could be extended for another 22 months, amended or discontinued.

City officials hope new zoning will encourage cleaner industries to locate around the airport.

Residues of toxic chemicals on the property might affect Lockheed’s ability to liquidate it. All of Lockheed’s Burbank property is under a cleanup and abatement order from the state and wells in the area are on the federal Superfund cleanup list, said David Bacharowski, an environmental specialist with the California Regional Water Quality Control Board.

Lockheed has been working to restore wells contaminated with industrial solvents and will continue to do so after it leaves Burbank. Company spokesman Jim Ragsdale said it is not known how long the cleanup will take.

For prospective buyers, a more pressing concern is the level of toxics in the soil and in the buildings, many of which date back to the 1940s and contain asbestos. Because much of Lockheed’s work has been on secret projects for the federal government, it is uncertain what toxic chemicals may have seeped into the soil over the years.

Bacharowski said tests to determine the degree of contamination will be conducted as Lockheed vacates various sites. Those tests, he said, will take three to five years.

In the meantime, both the city of Burbank and the Burbank-Glendale-Pasadena Airport Authority have said they will not buy contaminated land.

“We won’t buy it if it isn’t clean,” Airport Authority President Robert Garcin said of the properties.

Ragsdale said Lockheed is aware that potential buyers might be put off by toxic levels at the property and said the company will negotiate as sites become available.

“New buyers of this land are going to want protection from liability,” he said. “Lockheed knows full well that that is something that will have to be resolved as the land becomes available.”

There has been some speculation that the price of cleaning up some sites may cost as much as the properties themselves.

The first Lockheed property available for sale was a 16-acre complex of machine shops on Sherman Way at the northwest corner of the airport’s east-west runway. The complex, known as Plant C-1, is expected to be vacated by August.

The Airport Authority already has agreed to buy the land for between $800,000 and $900,000 an acre. The airport will take control of the property after an environmental review to ensure toxic levels will not prevent its use. No specific use has been determined for the site, airport spokesman Victor Gill said.

By December, Lockheed expects to vacate another complex of machine shops, on an 89-acre site called Plant B-1 at Empire Avenue and Victory Place. Earlier this year, after toxics were discovered there, Burbank city officials backed away from discussions of buying the site and developing it as a retail shopping area.

Redevelopment Director William Kelly said the city did not want to risk the liability of holding title to the land if a prospective developer backed out of the project. He said private companies remain interested in the property, which is visible from the Golden State Freeway.

Lockheed’s super-secret Advanced Development Co.--nicknamed “the Skunk Works"--will be moved from its current 115-acre site on Hollywood Way to Palmdale during 1992 and 1993. The plant site has long been viewed by the Airport Authority as an ideal location for a new passenger terminal. In April the authority contracted for the third environmental impact report in six years to study terminal locations. That report should be completed in eight or nine months, Garcin said.

City officials also want the Skunk Works site because it would anchor their efforts to rejuvenate the area north of the current airport terminal along Hollywood Way.

The Federal Aviation Administration has been pushing the airport to build a new terminal because the 60-year-old terminal comes within 313 feet of the center of the runway. Modern federal regulations require the building to be at least 750 feet from the runway’s center.

The Pentagon killed a 1984 proposal to build a terminal near the Skunk Works site, citing security concerns. Although Lockheed’s departure removes that obstacle, there are others.

“We’ve got a long way to go to make things work,” Garcin said.

Garcin said the annual passenger load at the airport must increase from the current level of about 2.5 million annually to pay for a new terminal that would require 100 to 150 acres and could cost between $200 and $250 million. He did not say how many more passengers would be required.

The airport has begun leasing Lockheed land to alleviate a parking crunch caused by an increasing number of flights.

Plant A-1, a 73-acre complex of offices, machine shops and warehouses near Empire Avenue and Hollywood Way will be vacated during 1992. The complex was the only additional site made available after Lockheed’s May 8 announcement. Two Lockheed divisions--Lockheed Finance Corp. and Lockheed Air Terminal Inc.--will remain in Burbank.

Lockheed Properties Plant C-1, a 16-acre complex of machine shops expected to be vacated by August. Plant B-6, a 115 acre complex primarily contains the super-secret Skunk Works. It will be vacated during 1992 and 1993 with the exceptions of two buildings. Building 360, a development lab and office, and the Composites Devlopment Center, where thermoplastics are developed. Plant A-1, a 73-acre complex of administrative offices, machine shops and warehouses expected to be vacated during 1992. Plant B-1, a 75-acre complex of machine shops expected to be vacated by December with the exception of two buildings.