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Burbank Mall to Undergo Upgrade

Crown Realty plans a revamped entrance and new tenants to improve the Media City Center's image.

August 27, 2003|Roger Vincent | Times Staff Writer

An upgrade of the aging Burbank Media City Center was announced Tuesday by Crown Realty, the Irvine developer that bought the 41-acre mall for $110 million in March.

The Magnolia Boulevard entrance will be reconfigured to make way for two restaurants, one of which will be a P.F. Chang's China Bistro. A second eatery will open on the east side of the main entrance.

The improvements will cost as much as $7 million and are the first phase of what Crown Realty President Robert Flaxman said would be a "significant repositioning" of the 12-year-old mall in downtown Burbank.

That is welcome news to Susan Georgino, the city's community development director, who describes the mall's Magnolia entrance as being like a fortress.

The new entrance was designed by Dallas architecture firm Omniplan to make the mall look less institutional and would include more natural materials such as stone, Flaxman said. Work is scheduled to begin in October and be completed by May.

Crown Realty also may rename the mall, which Flaxman said has "a perception problem" because stores on the lower level have not done well financially. The 1.2-million-square-foot mall takes in $250 million in sales a year, or about $210 a square foot. That's below the national average of $258 a square foot, according to the Urban Land Institute.

"We are in the process of adding better merchandising and better tenants so that we can attract a whole new breed of retailers to that lower level," Flaxman said, including stores such as Hot Topic and Rave. There should be 10 to 12 new tenants by the end of the year, he said.

The mall's new theme is "Come Home to Burbank," which has a double meaning: It implores local residents to not leave town to shop and calls attention to the mall's growing emphasis on home-related merchandise.

Burbank Media City Center, one of Los Angeles County's largest shopping centers, is a three-level indoor mall anchored by Macy's, Sears, Mervyn's, Sport Chalet, Gap and Bath & Body Works. It also has two AMC Theatres totaling 14 screens. It is surrounded by free-standing stores including IKEA, Barnes & Noble, Circuit City, Office Depot and Virgin Megastore.

The city has approved the formation of a property-based business improvement district including the mall, Georgino said. Downtown property owners are expected to assess themselves more than $4 million over the next five years to pay for improvements such as street signs, parking and promotional activities.

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