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Council reviews Platt project

Laura Sturza

Council chambers were filled to capacity Tuesday with an overflow of

30 people in City Hall’s rotunda for a marathon City Council review

to decide the fate of a proposed four-acre, $200-million development.

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Council members were halfway through considering the statements of

more than 30 residents who favored and opposed the Burbank Media

Center at 10:30 p.m.

Though the center, proposed by the Platt Companies, was voted down

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last year 5-0 by the city’s Planning Board, it has been revised to

address concerns from the board and residents, said city staff and

Platt officials.

“Since the Planning Board [decision], we’ve significantly reduced

density by lowering the two 15-story structures to 12 stories,”

project spokesman Mark Wittenberg said.

In comparison, the Disney Channel building across the freeway from

the project is 20 stories.

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Burbank Media Center would include offices, housing, a church,

retail businesses, a health club and a child-care center on a

triangle- shaped lot near the Ventura (134) Freeway along Alameda

Street, Lima Street and Olive Avenue.

Locals opposing the project cited concerns about increased

traffic, pollution and the overall size of the project.

Burbank resident Rolf Darbo said the traffic generated by tenants

and customers will strangle the area.

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Several residents wore labels that said, “Still Too High,” which

Darbo said reflected the view of people in the neighborhood who “know

that the area needs redevelopment,” but that 12 stories is too much.

But people “could live with several five-story buildings there,” he

added.

Others supported the project, citing the developer’s promise to

subsidize Burbank schools with $750,000 and address the needs of

working parents by offering child care.

“Anything that is going to help the children [will be a plus],”

said resident Jack Stern, a teacher who attends the Trinity

Foursquare Church that would be rebuilt as part of the plan. “It’s

going to be great to get a new church.”

In addition, Burbank resident Glenn Stewart, who works in the film

industry, said the center would help attract producers to the city

and keep filmmaking from continuing to runaway to cheaper locales.

But Sharon Bridgeman just bought her house in August and is

concerned that if the buildings are approved, “I probably won’t see

the mountains and I won’t feel the breeze.”

However, city staff recommended that the council approve the

project because it meets the guidelines of Burbank’s Media District

Specific Plan, which called for a “signature development” on the

proposed site, Community Development Director Sue Georgino said. The

plan was created by city planners in 1991 to control growth in the

Media District.

“It’s an opportunity for people to live, work, recreate and even

have child care right on the site,” Georgino said.

But hitting the marks set by city planners a dozen years ago might

not be enough to get the council’s go-ahead.

“Just because it meets the criteria of the [Media District

Specific Plan], it doesn’t mean the council has to say ‘sure,’” Mayor

David Laurell said.


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