The deadline for approving a new Burbank Airport terminal expired Wednesday, triggering a process that could end with the sale of land earmarked for the $300-million project.
The draft terminal deal--signed by negotiators for the city of Burbank and the Burbank-Glendale-Pasadena Airport Authority last August--had been considered dead for months because of objections from residents, airlines and the Federal Aviation Administration.
But with the passage of Wednesday's deadline for the city and the authority to reach a final deal, the city now has 60 days to decide whether to buy up to 81 acres of the 130-acre terminal site. The land was acquired from Lockheed Martin last year and has been held in trust, pending a final agreement.
If the city does not buy the land, it will be put up for sale to a third party, which would be barred from building a terminal on the site, according to airport and city officials.
The short timeline increases pressure on both the city and the Airport Authority to break the stalemate over the proposed 14-gate terminal.
"I wouldn't say it's dead, but it has taken a strong turn for the worse," said Burbank City Manager Robert R. "Bud" Ovrom. "Humpty Dumpty has fallen off the wall, and I'm not sure the pieces can be put back together."
Prospects for the terminal deal dimmed in March, when FAA chief Jane Garvey declared that the airport could not close the terminal overnight without conducting a $4-million noise study. The nighttime ban on flights was considered a crucial element of the deal.
Victor Gill, spokesman for the Airport Authority, held out hope that a compromise can still be salvaged. Even as Burbank considers whether to buy the land, the authority is pursuing the federal noise study in hopes that the FAA will bless a curfew on late-night flights.
"The key is answering the curfew question in a timely fashion," he said, adding that finding a new buyer for the land intended for the terminal could take years. "It's just a question of how long the door can remain open."
Burbank Mayor Bill Wiggins said Tuesday that the city staff is analyzing redevelopment opportunities "for at least some" of the property. He said the City Council will make a decision within the next 60 days.