Down to business Downtown

Rima Shah

The five new stores that celebrated their grand openings Saturday on

San Fernando Boulevard are a vital part of a big dream.

They are a part of Burbank's Downtown revitalization plan, which

aims to give local residents a place to have a good time and help the

area's economic development, city officials said.

The new stores are Chadaka Thai, a Thai food restaurant; the

confectionary store Rocky Mountain Chocolate Factory; Quiznos; O' My

Sole, a shoe store; and Active, a sportswear store.

"Downtown Burbank has been undergoing a revitalization for the

past three years," said Robin Faulk, marketing manager for Downtown

Burbank, a nonprofit organization dedicated to the growth of downtown

Burbank. "We're looking for stores that represent products that

people want to buy."

Officials envision outdoor restaurants with umbrellas, a

combination of local and national retail chains and more foot traffic

as they try and transform Downtown. Downtown Burbank is bordered by

Burbank Boulevard to the north, Glenoaks Boulevard to the East,

Verdugo Avenue to the South and the Golden State (5) Freeway to the

west.

"It's important for people to have a place to go, where they feel

safe, which is multigenerational, where they can sit in restaurants

and people watch," Faulk said.

He cited the popularity of AMC Theatres in Downtown Burbank. The

popularity of Urban Outfitters on San Fernando has also brought in

traffic to Downtown Burbank.

"Those kinds of things just didn't exist before," Faulk said, "And

it is really drawing a lot of people."

The promise of economic strength Downtown attracted the Heinzmans

to open Chadaka Thai.

The growth potential and the change in the city over the last

couple of years led him and his wife to choose Burbank, said Billy

Heinzman, owner of Chadaka Thai.

"We haven't done any advertising at all," he said.

Their customers mainly include "young Hollywood types," Heinzman

said.

Downtown's economic potential, along with a childhood attachment

to the city, led Zizette Ayad and her sister, Dalia Leon, to open the

Rocky Mountain Chocolate Factory franchise.

"We've lived in Burbank for 23 years," Ayad said. It's growing and

it's a safe place."

Ayad wants to join with other new businesses to create more

opportunities to draw customers, Ayad said.

Other projects, such as the AMC Downtown Burbank Phase II and the

Burbank Village Walk will also help bring in more businesses, said

Gail Stewart, Downtown manager.

"Downtown Burbank has continued to evolve into a destination

location," said Michael Cusumano, vice president of Cusumano Real

Estate Group. "Business has continued to evolve for the past two

years."

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