Part of Burbank’s First Street to become IKEA Way
Despite objections from some prominent Burbank business owners, the City Council last week approved the renaming of a section of First Street in downtown Burbank to IKEA Way, in order to help reduce confusion among shoppers traveling to the Swedish retailer’s future store, which will be its largest in the United States when completed.
Council members said the change would create a more favorable traffic pattern by diverting southbound traffic to the exit at Verdugo Avenue rather than Alameda Avenue and, together with “way-finding” signage, would help out-of-towners find the retailer more easily from the Golden State (5) Freeway.
“I think, ultimately, it does the community good,” said Councilwoman Emily Gabel-Luddy. “That’s more important than this name or that name.”
However, some local business owners and residents objected to aspects of the proposal, which will affect the section of First Street between Santa Anita Avenue and Angeleno Avenue.
The City Council had already approved naming a new segment of the street from Santa Anita to Providencia, where the store’s parking lot entrance will be located, to IKEA Way in October 2014.
IKEA did not request the extension of that street name, but it was suggested by former Traffic Commission member Ralph Herman, who said in a recent letter that it would enable the city to seek California Department of Transportation signs along the freeway pointing drivers to the Verdugo Avenue exit. Caltrans will not point specifically to a business, Herman and others said.
Of the four businesses with First Street addresses in the affected area, Black Angus Steak House and Residence Inn favored the change, according to a staff report. The others, TrueGrain Inc. and Keller Williams, opposed it.
The Traffic Commission, which includes three Keller Williams Realtors, voted against the proposal in December, voicing concerns that it would set a precedent for other businesses and might not comply with city code. A review by the City Attorney’s office found that the commissioners who work for Keller Williams did not have a financial conflict of interest in the matter, the report stated.
Michael Cusumano, co-owner of the Cusumano Real Estate Group, also opposed extending the new street name north of Verdugo Avenue, where his firm is in the process of developing two 14-story towers under a project dubbed “Premier on First.”
Council members were not swayed by the business owners’ concerns, in light of what they felt were broader benefits for the new name.
However, Burbank resident Sharon Springer argued for selling the naming rights for potentially millions of dollars and using the proceeds to ensure pedestrian safety along San Fernando Road.
“It’s not something that we should give away, especially if we’re facing a deficit,” Springer said. “If IKEA won’t pay ... I think we should sell it to someone who will.”
City Atty. Amy Albano and some members of the public expressed concerns that selling the rights could complicate the city’s ability to refuse an undesirable name once the rights are purchased.
The council declined to seek payment for the naming rights.
Vice Mayor Jess Talamantes said Springer’s idea “sounds good, but in practicality, I don’t feel it’s going to work.”
Chad Garland, email@example.com