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Shame on Mickey!

May 21, 1988

Now we know why Mickey Mouse has only four fingers. He gave the middle one to Burbank.

The city offered 40 acres of prime downtown land, adjacent to the Golden State Freeway, for $1 million (that's a bargain; 57 cents a square foot or $25,000 an acre) to the Walt Disney Co. The "imagineers" at Disney came up with a grandiose $611-million scheme, complete with waterfalls, a steep, tropical ravine and the Burbank Ocean.

To say that a $600-million project would not be justified by the income return sounds reasonable, while the original estimates of between $150 and $300 million were realistic. The imagineers could have used money instead of water to fill up the ocean. The results would have been the same. No wonder it turned into an economically unfeasible project.

As a 25-year resident of Burbank, I had hoped for a shopping/amusement center tied into a working Disney studio and museum complex. The Disney style and quality would have made it a unique "draw," bringing people from Los Angeles and throughout the Valley for something special. As far as competition from the Glendale Galleria, the people of Burbank have to go there to shop because all we have, department store-wise, are one limited J. C. Penney and a smaller Burcal's. I'd love to be able to stay and spend my money in Burbank, instead of having to travel to Glendale or further into the Valley. The pull of a Harrod's-West or a Japanese super store should have reversed the traffic and a revenue flow out of Burbank.

People laughed and said Burbank couldn't support one theater or one new restaurant. We now have a 10-theater complex and three sizable new restaurants in the downtown area.

Shame on you, Mickey and Michael (Eisner), for not living up to your promise to the city and citizens of Burbank!



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