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.