Parking issues, rising rents and the balance between a successful but quiet commercial area are some of the issues Burbank officials have identified in the city’s Magnolia Park neighborhood.
Mary Hamzoian, the city’s economic development manager, detailed to the City Council during a meeting Tuesday the concerns of business owners and residents regarding the unique neighborhood on Magnolia Boulevard, which is a blend of small business boutiques, popular eateries and single-family homes.
Though there are several successful businesses rooted in the corridor — Porto’s Bakery, Morphe Brushes and Tony’s Darts Away, just to name a few — there are many that have struggled, primarily due to increasing rents.
Hamzoian said the current average retail rental rate in Magnolia Park is about $2.67 per square foot, below the average rate in the city, which is $3.83 per square foot. Rents in the Media District are pegged at about $5.95 per square feet.
However, rents in Magnolia Park were significantly lower just three years ago, when landlords were charging $1.64 per square foot.
Hamzoian said today’s rental rates in the neighborhood are being driven by a strong economy, the popularity of the area and climbing real estate prices.
“There isn’t a quick fix or a viable solution to address this concern,” she said. “Similar to increasing residential rates and home prices of the area, these figures are dictated by market demand and supply.”
Another issue has been parking in the neighborhood. With the rise in popularity of Porto’s and Morphe, residents have complained about too many customers parking on residential streets. Some business operators say parking spaces directly in front of their Magnolia Park storefronts are being used by patrons of other businesses.
Hamzoian said Morphe used to draw in large crowds whenever they released a new product. However, she said the business recognized the issues caused by the mass of customers flooding into the neighborhood and have opted to not host large events at its Burbank store.
Hamzoian added the city is still working on a parking management study to determine the best way to resolve the issue.
There has also been a struggle to establish a stable funding mechanism to help the businesses in Magnolia Park.
In 2006, the city created the Magnolia Park Property-based Business Improvement District, which collected fees from participating merchants to help fund the maintenance of the neighborhood, as well as pay for marketing to promote the area.
However, that entity was dissolved in 2011 due to a lack of interest from businesses owners to renew their membership, Hamzoian said. It could be reestablished, if city officials want to take that route, she said.
In 2014, several business owners created their own organization, the Magnolia Park Merchants Assn. However, it’s experiencing the same membership issues as the former improvement district, with about only 52 of the 400 merchants signed up, Hamzoian said.
In the last fiscal year, the city invested more than $30,000 in Magnolia Park to help pay for events such as Holiday in the Park and Ladies Night Out.