The San Fernando Road corridor north of the Empire Center — a mostly drab, commercial area — could be transformed into a more walkable, attractive area with the addition of some mixed-use developments and revamped thoroughfares under plans being floated at City Hall.
Since Lockheed’s departure in the late 1980s, the city has wanted to redevelop the area roughly bound by Andover Drive to the north; Third Street and portions of Glenoaks Boulevard to the east; Burbank Boulevard to the south; and Leland Way and Interstate 5 to the west. San Fernando slices through the center of the area.
Community meetings and opportunities to provide input were made available on the city’s website in the past few months for feedback on what the city refers to as the North San Fernando Boulevard Plan.
City planners are now months away from a comprehensive plan that would show developers, architects and business owners what residents and city leaders envision for the area for the next 20 years, said principal planner Patrick Prescott. The plan looks to spur discussion on how to implement the ideas for the area, he said.
City officials are hoping that by the time the plans are complete, possibly by the end of the year, the economy will have improved and the city will be ready for development.
“We want to say, ‘Great, welcome to Burbank, this is what [we] want to see along this corridor,’” Prescott said.
Instead of working on changes to the area on a project-by-project basis, developers have an idea of what is expected in advance for the entire area, he said.
Residents and visitors to the area will see construction work at the I-5 and Empire Avenue interchange in late 2012, according to the Caltrans site on I-5 improvements, http://www.i-5info.com.
“When the Empire interchange is complete, it will reconnect a portion of the city that has been a little obstructed when the freeway was built in the 1950s,” Prescott said. “We anticipate eventual demand for development on the corridor” to start there, he said.
Some residents suggested shuttles could move people around the various areas of the city, such as the Civic Center or downtown to North San Fernando, although a funding source would have to be identified.
Simplifying traffic flow, dedicated bike lanes, additional trees, bus shelters, trash cans, bike racks and better signage are among the improvements being discussed.
“This benefits pedestrians, transit users and drivers,” Prescott said. “It improves the appearance and efficiency of the whole corridor.”
To see a copy of the “vision poster” for the North San Fernando Boulevard Plan, and the possible changes that could enhance the area, visit: http://tinyurl.com/3l3vys2.