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City gives OK to revised BID plan

Laura Sturza

By approving plans for spiffing up downtown Burbank on Tuesday night,

council members moved closer to their goal of building a better

looking, higher revenue-producing city.


“If we have a vibrant and revitalized downtown, that all comes

back to retail sales ... which translates to tax revenue,” Vice Mayor

Marsha Ramos said prior to the meeting. “That’s how we are able to

fund the programs and services that residents enjoy, plus [create] a


downtown that’s a positive and energetic environment.”

The council’s unanimous approval is the next-to-last hurdle to

creating a property-based Business Improvement District, which would

assess property owners for improvements that include street signs,

parking and aesthetic improvements, maintenance and promotional

activities for the area from IKEA to the Holiday Inn.

The area’s 133 property owners still have to approve the plan by a

51% vote. The results of that ballot will be reviewed by the City


Council in July.

Cusumano Real Estate Group partner Michael Cusumano is one of the

property owners supporting the plan. His company owns properties

including The Elephant Bar and BJ’s Restaurant and Brewhouse.

“I think that we can establish the Village [as a place] that

entices a better quality of retail merchant, a more diverse cross

section of entertainment opportunities, so that the downtown can

effectively compete with the most desirable destination attractions


in Southern California,” Cusumano said.

While large- and small-property owners said they support the plan,

several small businesses that lease space were concerned they would

not have a voice in the governance of the new system. The council

responded by considering changes to the proposed composition of

people who would make up the governing board to ensure representation

by small businesses.

Unlike former plans, the latest proposal would include the Media

City Center and new residential and commercial developments slated

for the Old Police Block across from City Hall. It would last for

five years and then be reviewed. Financing would include $123,000 per

year of Redevelopment Agency funds, and about $600,000 in yearly fees

from property owners, ranging from $217,000 for the mall to $254 for

the smallest lot.

Under the city’s existing improvement district, tenants pay

anywhere from $64 to $1,458 each, depending on square footage, which

brings in about $70,000.

Other changes to the city’s downtown include hiring Gail Stewart

last year to manage the area’s revitalization, an Urban Outfitters

scheduled to open in the former Newberry building in the fall and the

June 18 opening of the 16-screen AMC Theater with stadium seating.