Bulldozers went to work in Pasadena duing the first quarter and a major new office building hit the market in Glendale.

But two big projects ran into problems in Burbank the biggest one being Vestar Development Co.'s plans to develop 985,000 square feet of retail and office space on a 102-acre parcel owned by Lockheed Martin Corp. The deal fell apart when Phoenix-based Vestar failed to close escrow on the land by a Dec. 31 deadline, and Lockheed reopened the bidding.

Earlier this month, Lockheed signed a contract to sell the site to Los Angeles-based developer Zelman Cos., which plans to build a $100 million retail, office and auto complex.

"The development of the site will still be substantial," said Paul Krueger, economic development manager for Burbank. "There will be about 585,000 square feet of retail, two hotels with 350 rooms, and 600,000 square feet of office. The remaining 29 acres will go for automotive retailing."

The purchase price of the property was not disclosed. But Krueger said Vestar had been prepared to pay about $60 million for the land, and Zelman is reportedly willing to beat that price. Escrow is expected to close in the fourth quarter.

Meanwhile, problems continued for a major project in Burbank's downtown media district.

Sources said Equity Office Properties has retained Cushman Realty Corp. to explore alternatives for its dormant five-acre property, including possible sale of the site bordered by Olive Avenue, California Street and the Ventura (134) Freeway.

It was the latest move in a year-long struggle between Equity and its development partner, J.H. Snyder Co., over construction of a 585,000-square-foot office complex called Media Center.

Neither Equity nor Snyder have been willing to discuss the project since Snyder filed a lawsuit against its financial partners in January claiming breach of contract. Snyder is seeking $7.2 million for losses allegedly suffered because of construction delays.

"I think it's fair to say that we're very disappointed that we're not under construction on the project right now," said Cliff Goldstein, a partner at J.H. Snyder.

The troubles encountered by the two projects came as Burbank posted an office vacancy rate of 5.1 percent in the first quarter the lowest of any submarket in L.A. County, according to Cushman and Wakefield Inc.

In Glendale, meanwhile, the office vacancy rate soared to 16 percent in the first quarter, up from 10.8 percent a year earlier. The increase came as the largest new office tower to be built in L.A. County since the early 1990s opened for occupancy at 655 N. Central Ave.


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