Council votes against economic incentive

Karen S. Kim

BURBANK -- With The Great Indoors store already expected to open at

Burbank's Empire Center by March 2002, the City Council voted 3-1 Tuesday

against offering the Sears store a $250,000 incentive package.

"We really didn't think it was justified," Councilman Bob Kramer said.

"They've already purchased the property, and we knew they were coming for

sure."

The incentive package was proposed to Sears, Roebuck and Co. last

November, before the store's plans to move into Burbank were finalized.

When Sears closed escrow on a 12-acre parcel of land in the Burbank

Empire Center last Dec. 15, they had not agreed to the incentive package.

The package promised to pay Sears up to $250,000 over a five-year

period, depending on how much sales tax the store generated. To receive

the full $250,000, The Great Indoors would have needed to produce $30

million each year in gross sales.

Officials from Burbank's redevelopment agency and a City Council

subcommittee -- consisting of Mayor Bill Wiggins and Councilman Dave

Golonski -- met with Sears representatives last June to discuss the

advantages of The Great Indoors opening in Burbank.

"We were facing an uphill battle at the time to get Sears here," said

Deputy Community Development Director Steve Donley. "We worked really

hard to sell them on it."

With Sears representatives also considering a cheaper Glendale

property for the store at the time, Burbank offered to propose the

incentive package to the City Council, Donley said.

Golonski was the only council member to vote for the incentive

Tuesday. Wiggins was absent from the meeting.

"I was a member of the subcommittee, I had agreed that I'd bring it

forward and recommend it for approval, so that's what I did," Golonski

said. "[But] a lot of the motivation for providing an incentive is lost

when someone is already committed to coming."

Donley said the council's vote should not affect Sears' decision to

open its Burbank store.

"I don't see this negatively impacting the project," he said. "Sears

is committed to this site. The prospect of the incentive probably enticed

them a little, but it was always very clear that it had to be approved by

the council."

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