Developer executive Jim O'Neil stood on the top floor of the parking structure across the street from the IKEA store at the Burbank Town Center and described the site as an opportunity to give the area new life.
Officials with Crown Realty and Development Inc. recently announced their plans to revitalize the shopping center once the Swedish retailer moves to its new location down the street at 805 S. San Fernando Blvd. in spring 2017.
O'Neil, vice president of Crown Realty, said the company is proposing to build a six-story, mixed-use project with 765 apartments and about 40,000 square feet of retail space on the ground level. He said he also envisions converting the site into a community gathering area where an outdoor ice rink could be built and a farmers market could be held.
"We're trying to give the city a sense of place, a community space where people can come and gather," he said. "It's a place for the citizens to come and be with their friends and family and just enjoy themselves. It's also a place where new employees that are coming into Burbank can call Burbank their home instead of having to live outside the city."
Plans for the proposed project are still at early stages and have yet to be submitted to the city. O'Neil said his company will do what it takes to build the mixed-use development within the Downtown Specific Plan and not ask for any variances.
He added that Crown Realty is expected to submit the project to the city in upcoming weeks.
While the developer is waiting for the city's approval on the proposal, Crown Realty will be working with real estate operator CAPREF Manager LLC to revamp the shopping mall.
CAPREF is no stranger to malls in Southern California. It currently manages the Glendale Marketplace in Glendale, the Paseo Colorado in Pasadena and the Strand in Huntington Beach.
"We looked at Burbank and it seemed to be a little underserved," said Lance Taylor, a director at CAPREF. "We asked ourselves, 'Can we utilize our vertically integrated company to help revitalize and take Burbank Town Center to its next phase in its life cycle?'"
One of the major proposed changes to the Burbank mall will be redesigning the entryway at San Fernando and Magnolia boulevards. A section of the second-floor roof will be removed to create an open-space feel and an escalator will be installed to allow pedestrians to get to the upper level from the street.
Other amenities — such as the food court, children's play area and elevators — will be moved around to create a better flow and atmosphere in the mall, O'Neil said.
Taylor said work on the Burbank Town Center could start as soon as this summer, but a majority of the changes are expected to start in January 2017.
Anthony Clark Carpio, email@example.com