It isn't just the studios that are bulging. The growth has also spilled over into the intricate network of companies that provide media-related products and services, from law firms and banks to costume-rental businesses and film suppliers.
But there's also a downside to Burbank's ballooning media industry. The city's commercial real estate market has become so tight that some firms are forced to look elsewhere for space. Rapidly expanding Saban Entertainment, which produces the "Mighty Morphin Power Rangers" children's TV show, is moving to larger quarters in Westwood.
Burbank City Manager Ovrom would love to land the new DreamWorks SKG studio, which is housed on the Universal lot. But most observers expect that DreamWorks will eventually set up shop at the huge Playa Vista project in Playa del Rey, and the studio is negotiating to locate its animation division in Glendale.
Nearly 1 million square feet of new office and industrial space is being built each year in Burbank, the city estimates. But Ovrom said there's still a crying need for more, and he has high hopes that the abandoned Lockheed property will eventually be converted to entertainment industry use.
The city is eager to get a 103-acre parcel that was the site of Lockheed's B-1 bomber plant back in use. However, the land and underground water there were badly contaminated and are now being cleaned. Ovrom estimates the site will be ready for redevelopment within two years, after which he envisions the establishment of a "Media District North" on the grounds. But even if the property is determined to be clean, the shadow of former toxic contamination is "a big psychological issue" for prospective tenants, said Seth Dudley, senior vice president at the commercial real estate brokerage Julien J. Studley Inc. in Los Angeles.
Still, observers expect the studios to keep close to home as much as possible, despite mounting competition for media businesses from other parts of Southern California and other states.
"The infrastructure is already there," said Joel Kotkin, a public policy fellow at Pepperdine University. "It would cost a fortune to rebuild what is already there."
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For decades, Burbank was a two- industry town. Then with the departure of aerospace giant Lockheed Corp., it became a one- industry town. But the remaining industry- entertainment-is growing so fast it is quickly replacing the lost aerospace jobs and is helping create a vibrant local economy.
Robust Employment Growth
Entertainment industry employment in the San Fernando Valley:
No. of employees: 32,168
No. of employees: 51,924
% change: 61%
Note: Employment figures are from companies involved directly with motion picture and television production.
As of August,1995
Los Angeles: 9.8%
Office Vacancy Rates
As of August,1995
Burbank Media District: 3%
Burbank- Glendale: 10%
Greater Los Angeles: 18.4%
Sources: SRI International, state Employment Development Department, Julien J. Studley Inc.