While the Cusumano Group is paying more for city land than the people
who bought Manhattan Island for $24, some community members think
they are getting quite a deal by paying $100 for part of the Old
“Property across the street from City Hall and you can only get
$100 for it?” resident Mike Nolan asked council members at their
The council voted 4-0, with Councilwoman Marsha Ramos absent, to
approve the sale of the lot across from City Hall, which will become
Burbank Civic Plaza. Plans for the project include 78,000 square feet
of offices, 12,000 square feet of retail businesses like a
restaurant, which city officials say will cater to tenants and
others, and parking.
The plaza is part of the city’s master plan, which includes the
Olson Company’s Burbank Village Walk, with 140 apart- ments.
That adjacent property was sold for $3 million and will include
10% affordable housing, Community Development Director Sue Georgino
The $100 deal was struck because property sold through the
Redevelopment Agency requires the developer to meet the agency’s
“I can’t think of a redeve- lopment project that has recouped its
value in land sale,” Councilman Dave Golonski said.
The city wanted to “sell the property for its highest and best
use,” which was determined to be office space, Georgino said.
“We have to look at the block as a whole and say, ‘Do we want
residential across the street from [City Hall] and the courthouse?,’”
Georgino said. “That just [would not] make sense.”
Expected tax-revenue and parking income in current value terms is
$2.4 million through 2021, a city report showed.
Since the city has a glut of office space, the terms had to be
made attractive to a developer, Georgino said. In addition, the city
did not want to continue to hold the vacant land, not knowing if a
willing developer would come forward in three to five years, Georgino
“The land gives the developer a return of 8.22% which is a very
marginal return for a development with this kind of risk,” Georgino
said. “Generally the 10-13% range is more apropos.”
But partner Michael Cusu- mano said his firm believes the quality
of the $17-million pro- ject’s design will attract tenants. He plans
to move the company’s corporate headquarters to the new space, which
is expected to be completed in 2005.