Study on Bob Hope Airport terminal is cleared for takeoff

Bob Hope Airport and the city of Burbank are moving forward with their plan to fund a replacement terminal by developing a 58-acre property on Hollywood Way that is owned by the airfield.

In a 3-2 vote Thursday night, the Burbank City Council approved the use of roughly $1.35 million — to be paid back by the Burbank-Glendale-Pasadena Airport Authority — on an environmental impact report for the proposed terminal as well as potential development of the 58-acre parcel, known as the “B6” site.

The council also voted 3-2 to approve the basic concepts for the terminal and development of the B6 site.

For both votes, Mayor Emily Gabel-Luddy and council members Gary Bric and Jess Talamantes voted in favor, while Vice Mayor David Gordon and Councilman Bob Frutos voted against the project.

The proposal includes not only previously released plans for a new, 14-gate terminal that would replace the current 83-year-old building, but also plans for potential development of the 58-acre parcel, currently held in trust for the airport.

Airport officials have said that the new terminal would be funded through Federal Aviation Administration and Congressional support — as well as from proceeds from the sale of B6 parcel.

Authority commissioners voted 9-0 in favor of the conceptual approval during the joint meeting with City Council. 

Airport officials say a new terminal is necessary to meet both current earthquake safety standards and FAA guidelines for distance between the terminal and its runways.

The replacement terminal would also likely be significantly larger — up to 355,102 square feet, compared to the current 210,599-square-feet terminal.

Officials say that extra space would be used to provide better accessibility for the disabled, more and larger restrooms, larger waiting areas, expanded security screening areas and a more spacious baggage-claim area.

Glendale school board member Greg Krikorian opened the public comment on the proposal with an endorsement of the project, which he said would bring new business to the area. 

“This is not only going to help your children, but your grandchildren, and will make Bob Hope [Airport] the destination it should be,” he said.

Because of Measure B, passed in 2000, construction of a new terminal requires voter approval and then the city council would vote on the project.

The proposed development concept for the B6 site — an office, hotel and light industrial buildings totaling 3 million square feet — proved more controversial among Burbank residents at the meeting and the council.

Burbank resident Louis Altobellli said he'd like to see the site put on the market now, so that businesses could move in.

“I'm not really concerned with who benefits from the sale,” he said. “I want something that will benefit the city in the long term, not some transit-oriented development fad.”

The proposal, which will be used to determine potential impacts of development on the site, would contain buildings ranging from one to 12 stories.

Gordon said he'd like to see the environmental impact report study only the terminal, while another environmental study of the B6 parcel should be conducted by and paid for a developer after its sale.

Airport Authority commissioner Terry Tornek, a commercial developer, said that would likely limit developer interest as well as limiting Burbank's input into what would be built there.

“The idea of going to market without an [environmental impact report] is so inimical to the city's interests, and so unrealistic,” Tornek said.

The report will also study alternative options for the site, as mandated by California environmental law, including the option of maintaining the site for industrial uses, as specifically requested by Frutos and Gordon.

The environmental report will be conducted by Meridian Consultants, and will likely be completed in the summer of 2015, according to Joy Forbes, community development director for Burbank.

If the city and airport cannot agree on a plan for the B6 site by March 15, 2015, it must be sold to a third party.


Follow Daniel Siegal on Google+ and on Twitter: @Daniel_Siegal.


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