MEDIA CITY CENTER -- Despite a pledge of support, the owner of the
antique carousel in the Media City Center mall said the city is not doing
enough to ensure the historic amusement will remain in town.
When the deal to sell the three-level, 350,000 square foot Media City
Center mall collapsed last month, it appeared to signal a reprieve for
the 1895 Looff carousel. Prospective buyer Zelman Development Companies
had said it would remove the carousel to make way for major renovations
of the lower floor of the mall.
But carousel owner Bradford Perron said that with the mall still for
sale, the future of the carousel in Burbank remains very much in doubt.
Perron of Oregon-based Historic Carousels, Inc. said he flew to
Burbank to meet with city officials Sept. 20 and came away unoptimistic
about the long-term prospects of keeping the carousel here.
Citing that meeting and a subsequent letter from Burbank Redevelopment
Project Manager Jack Lynch, Perron said the city is unwilling to consider
other options for keeping the carousel in Burbank and that some local
officials blame the carousel for the mall dealing falling through.
The letter “sounded as if we were a thorn on the merchant’s side. It
took a position that there’s not really enough worth fighting for,” said
But Lynch and City Councilman Bob Kramer, who both met with Perron
when he was in Burbank, said the city has supported keeping the carousel
in Burbank. Perron’s suggestion of relocating the carousel -- which
requires a weatherproof enclosure -- to a park or other location would
cost between $450,000 and $500,000, is not a viable option, they said.
On Nov. 2, with the council’s backing, Mayor Stacey Murphy said she
would send a letter to Zelman asking the developer to keep the historic
carousel in the mall. Kramer said that until another buyer comes forward,
there is not much the city can do.
“We certainly support the carousel, but ultimately the new buyer will
make the decision,” said Kramer. “Maybe the company that buys the mall
will want to keep the carousel.”
Perron said he has received letters from hundreds of supporters and he
is considering starting a “Burbank Friends of the Carousel” group to
demonstrate the value of the antique ride to local residents.
“You just can’t wipe out everything that is old -- it’s history. By
doing that you’re sacrificing the quality of life,” he said. Perron is
likely to find an ally for his efforts in Nancy Hutchins, a descendant of
carousel designer Charles I.D. Looff.
After reading that the carousel might be removed from the mall in a
Sept. 25 Leader story, Hutchins started a petition campaign. She said she
has gathered more than 5,900 signatures from people who support keeping
the carousel in the mall. Though her petition spurred the council to
announce its support for the carousel, Hutchins said she believes the
city can do more.
“It was disheartening that they didn’t feel they needed to take a
supportive role,” she said.