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BURBANK : Retail Center Called the Most 'Do-Able'

July 15, 1993|ED BOND

It's more likely that a shopping center, rather than an indoor sports arena, will be built on 100 acres vacated by Lockheed Corp., according to Burbank City Manager Robert Ovrom.

The fate of the piece of land, vacant since late 1991, could be decided within the next two or three months. The City Council could vote on use of the property in August or September, Ovrom said.

Speaking at a Burbank Rotary Club meeting this week, Ovrom said a sports arena could still share the site with a retail center.

"The chances of an arena happening has never been more than 50-50," Ovrom said.

Plans for a sports arena have generated controversy. Councilman Dave Golonski has asked for a public referendum on the question.

Ovrom downplayed concerns that an arena would bring in crime, traffic and low-paying jobs. Retail stores would bring more crime, Ovrom said, and traffic would be mitigated by a new interchange that would have to be built off the Golden State Freeway. And Burbank's economy needs all kinds of jobs, he said.

The site could easily accommodate large stores, with 800,000 to 1 million square feet of retail space. Ovrom said that although some centers may have slightly more square footage, this project would be in a more populated area drawing a higher volume of business, Ovrom said.

"Of all the things we've talked about, the retail option is the most 'do-able,' " Ovrom said. Even if the arena is built, it would only take up half of the site, and the other half could be used for stores, Ovrom said.

Burbank lost about 15,000 jobs after Lockheed pulled its operations out of Burbank, moving to Palmdale and Marietta, Ga. The aerospace firm maintained most of its manufacturing operations in Burbank for about 60 years.

"We really look at retail as one of the building blocks of the rejuvenation of our economy," Ovrom said.

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