Burbank may have the last laugh yet.
By waiting until all its neighbors have redeveloped their downtowns, the city with the stodgy image nestled against the Verdugo Mountains may avoid making some of the development mistakes of its neighbors.
And then again, it might not: The Media District in the southwestern part of Burbank is already experiencing traffic congestion, even though many of the office buildings completed around the Burbank, NBC and Disney studios have only begun leasing space, according to Steven Somers, project manager for the 126-acre West Olive Redevelopment Project.
The Media District, centering at Olive and Alameda avenues and Riverside Drive, is part of this project, one of three in the city.
For The Record
Los Angeles Times Sunday October 6, 1985 Home Edition Real Estate Part 8 Page 31 Column 4 Real Estate Desk 2 inches; 38 words Type of Material: Correction
The department stores anchoring the Burbank Towncenter shopping mall scheduled to be built in downtown Burbank will be The Broadway, JC Penney, Nordstrom and Robinson's. A Sept. 29 story in this section erroneously included Sears and the May Co. and omitted The Broadway.
"Traffic congestion in this area will have to be relieved by street widening and new Ventura Freeway on- and off-ramps," Somers said in an interview. "The problem arises from the streets themselves, all running at angles and intersecting the freeway awkwardly."
If traffic congestion is a problem now, it will become even more of one in southwestern Burbank if R-5 zoning is approved for the area bounded by Oak Street, Pass Avenue, Hollywood Way and the Ventura Freeway. Higher-density apartment development would result from a zoning change in this area, Somers said. Current zoning is R-4.
With an inventory of 1,125,000 square feet of office space completed in the last three years, of which about 220,000 square feet is vacant, and another 800,000 square feet under construction, the Media District has become one of the major office centers in the Los Angeles Basin, according to Craig Stevens of Zugsmith & Associates Inc., Studio City.
He calls the area the "Brentwood of the Valley" because of its desirable setting. Of the 800,000 square feet under construction, about 350,000 square feet is pre-leased.
When he started his commercial real estate office several years ago, Mike Zugsmith specialized in office leasing. Today, Zugsmith, head of a 23-person Studio City-based firm, spends much of his time marketing industrial land in places like Agoura Hills and Ventura County. Commercial and industrial brokers play a major role in creating projects today--far more than they did in pat years.
Stevens said Burbank's current development is almost entirely in two areas: The Media District and downtown.
"The city is trying to avoid the mistakes Los Angeles made along Ventura Boulevard," he explained. "Burbank wants to create two walkable, distinct business and commercial areas and pretty much leave the rest of the city alone."
Including the Geiger Tower--now called the Triad Center at Burbank--in the 3900 block of Alameda Avenue, space totaling 1.6 million square feet will be under construction in the Media District in the next six to 18 months, Stevens estimated. In addition, the area will get a 500-room hotel to be operated by a major chain.
Ground breaking for the $72-million, 30-story, 450,000-square-foot building is scheduled for next month, according to Steven Geiger of Triad Burbank Associates, the developer. The architect is Herbert Nadel AIA & Partners, Santa Monica, and the general contractor is Stolte Inc.
The Triad in the name refers to joint venture partner Triad America of Salt Lake City, headed by brothers Adnan and Essam Adnan Khashoggi. Adnan Khashoggi, of Saudi Arabia, is one of the world's richest men.
Carol Grant, office leasing specialist with the Sherman Oaks office of Coldwell Banker, is optimistic about the leasing pace in the Media District. She calculates that there are about 800,000 square feet of space available in the area, with another 500,000-plus square feet planned.
"As the office users tend to be large in their demands for space, this office space should be absorbed within a year to a year and a half," Grant said. "Existing tenants in the area such as Disney, NBC and Columbia Studios, continue to lease additional space in new buildings to accommodate their ongoing office requirements. In addition, we are seeing tenants relocating to this area from the Hollywood and Mid-Wilshire areas."
An example of large space users is IDC Services, a Chicago-based entertainment support group that provides accounting and financial services to the industry. The firm will occupy 80,000 square feet of space in the 2600 West Olive Building under construction in the Media District.
Developed by CMS Development, the $21-million, 10-story structure will have 150,000 square feet of space. The Nadel firm is the architect. The Zugsmith firm negotiated the long-term lease valued at more than $20 million for IDC Services. Completion is expected next May.
The Media District has seen the most activity in the past five years, but downtown Burbank may have the last word in the retail sector when the long-awaited regional enclosed mall opens in 1987.