Burbank knocks down blight for affordable housing units

Officials this week broke ground on a new affordable housing development that will feature 20 one- and two-bedroom apartments.

The Catalina Development — funded by the city’s Redevelopment Agency — will the first all-new residential project for the nonprofit Burbank Housing Corp., which will end up owning and operating the venture.

The nonprofit typically rehabs existing buildings to use for low-income housing, but the Catalina property was “so substandard and severely blighted,” executive director Judith Arandes said, that nothing could be salvaged.

“We should be finished by Jan. 2013,” said Judith Arandes, executive director of Burbank Housing Corp.

“We can use the space more efficiently with the new design,” she said. “We’re able to maximize space for more units and more amenities, such as parking.”

The demolition kicked off the work, which will see the buildings totally razed before construction on the project begins, possibly as soon as December, Arandes said.

The timetable is in line with a short arc for the project.

“We went into escrow September 2010 and in one year a plan was submitted and approved, we relocated residents and we’re ready to go,” she said. “It’s gone very fast.”

Demolition of several single-story residences, an apartment building and garages started at about 11 a.m. Thursday to make way for the new project.

A few neighbors peeked out of from their balconies at the single tractor tearing down a pink one-story building. City employees looked on and others cheered as the tractor knocked down walls, crunched through windows and flattened the roof.

“I’m having so much,” Arandes said. “It’s been a lot of work and this is a good sign that we’re getting it done.”

A garage, which will also be knocked down, houses a 1970s-era pool that Arandes said had been used for storage for several years.

Five new buildings will go up on the four adjacent parcels along with a courtyard, community rooms and semi-subterranean parking, she added.

“It’s going to beautify the neighborhood,” Mayor Jess Talamantes said at the demolition. “It’s good for the police department and fire department. In upgrading the project, I hope the surrounding property owners will improve their properties as well.”


Council OKs $9.6M for affordable housing

City buys apartment building

-- Maria Hsin, Times Commuity News

Photo: Units on the 2200 block of Catalina Ave. in Burbank were demolished on Thursday, October 6, 2011. When the demolition is complete, Burbank Housing Corp., in partnership with the Burbank Redevelopment Agency will build 20 energy-efficient rental units. Credit: Raul Roa/Times Community News

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