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New building brings hope

Deborah Meron

After 10 years of development, the Burbank Civic Plaza was christened

Friday by city officials, business owners and residents, who hoped

that the plaza would be an engine for growth downtown.


Built across from City Hall, the Civic Plaza, 250 E. Olive Ave.,

is at “one of the best sites in the city,” said Chuck Cusumano,

co-director of the Burbank-based Cusumano Real Estate Group, which

developed the site. The four-story building will provide 60,000


square feet of office space and 6,000 square feet of retail space on

the ground floor.

“It’s certainly a project that we’re very proud of and it’s one of

many we’re working on in Burbank,” Cusumano co-director Michael

Cusumano said. “It’s not the largest [of our buildings], but it’s the

most unique.”

One-eighth of the building, mainly on the first floor, is rented

to Wells Fargo Bank and FedEx Kinko’s. Still vacant is a large space


on the north end of the first floor, which will likely go to a

restaurant. Chuck Cusumano said his company is working out a deal

with a high-end steakhouse.

He said he expects they’ll rent most of the building in the next

two to three months. The Cusumano Real Estate Group is now speaking

with entertainment companies, government agencies and mortgage

companies to fill space.

Michael Cusumano said that the building’s businesses will provide


500 new jobs.

The prospect of breathing life into downtown commerce pleased

local residents.

“I think it will be a great economic influence on the city,” said

Burbank resident Byrd Holland, who lives in the Village Walk, a

residential unit that shares the block with the Civic Plaza. “Wells

Fargo is one of the finest banking institutions in the world. That’s

what convinced us to move into the Village Walk.”

Wells Fargo donated $4,000 donations to four Burbank non-profit

organizations. The site has been picked up and been dropped by

several developers, because it was thought of as a high-risk

location, officials said.

In March 2004, then-Mayor Stacey Murphy and City Manager Mary

Alvord were among the three dozen who broke ground on the $15-million

development on the site of the former Burbank Police Headquarters.

The site has been unoccupied since the Police Department moved in the

mid-1990s, city officials said.

The Redevelopment Agency sold the property for $100 in March 2003,

with city officials saying that the deal was made because office

development was not strong at the time.

“It’s not the best office location because our primary office

location is near the studios in the Media District,” said Sue

Georgino, the city’s director of community development. “It doesn’t

have freeway visibility ... but it does have the advantage of being

across the street from the courthouse.”

Still, it was office space that seemed to be the best fit for what

should go across the street from City Hall, officials said.

“What belongs across the street from City Hall in the largest

media capital in the world?” Georgino asked. “Obviously that would be

class ‘A’ office space in a signature building.”

Even with the expected influx of employees, Chuck Cusumano said he

is not worried about any potential parking problems. The new

employees will be able to park in an adjacent parking structure and

in spaces reserved at the courthouse across the street.

As for the restaurant, there is expected to be parking valets and

on-site parking spaces after Wells Fargo closes evenings.

On Friday, officials also lauded the architecture.

“I think it’s a beautiful building with wonderful architecture,”

said Burbank Downtown Manager Gail Stewart of the building’s modern

take on Art Deco. “It complements the look of the City Hall. I’m

thrilled that it will add to the downtown vitality.”