City of Burbank
Specialty: Translating City Council policies into action.
Recent Deals: Shepherded approval of NBC’s master plan to add 1.6 million square feet to its Burbank lot; approved development for 580,000-square-foot office building in the Media District.
Burbank could have been one more Southern California town lost to the shuffle of the aerospace industry. Instead, city manager Bud Ovrom has been instrumental in encouraging and managing a rebound that has caught the press’ attention and the entertainment industry’s fancy.
Under the direction of Ovrom, Burbank has seen the expansion of the entertainment industry within the city’s boundaries and numerous developments of retail, office and industrial space. “We have an inordinate amount of economic activity for a city our size,” Ovrom said.
This is good news to a city that saw Lockheed Corp. pull out in the early ’90s, resulting in the loss of 20,000 jobs over the span of several years.
“The city took a terrible blow,” recalled Ovrom. “In a small town losing 20,000 jobs, you couldn’t have a friend, neighbor or family member who didn’t work at Lockheed.”
But now Ovrom sees an opportunity in the massive job loss. “It opened up 350 acres of land . . . with old buildings that had outlived their economic usefulness. When the recycling is done, there will be more jobs, more taxes and a cleaner industry.”
Several small parcels of land already have been purchased and developed. A Fry’s Electronics store one of the largest sales tax contributors in the city sits on a piece of the former Lockheed land. The city’s Hilton Hotel has added 250 rooms and a 40,000 square foot conference center.
Two big parcels (119 acres and 130 acres) remain undeveloped leaving Ovrom in a position to find the right developers.
He currently is working with Vestar Development to build on the 119-acre parcel. The company is looking to develop more retail space than office or industrial (a mix of about 60 percent to 40 percent, said Ovrom), while Ovrom prefers the opposite mix (60 percent office and industrial space and 40 percent retail).
Ovrom explained the distinction: “Not many cities would turn down retail. But our problem is that we lost a lot of high paying manufacturing jobs. We do appreciate retail but we need to replace the jobs we lost.”
Ovrom recognizes that he must temper a pro-business stance with concern for the community’s quality of life. These are exactly the issues behind Burbank’s current dispute with the Burbank-Glendale-Pasadena Airport Authority.
The Burbank City Council agrees that the airport needs a new terminal. But it is pushing for a 16-gate terminal and a nighttime curfew, while the airport wants 27 gates and no curfew.
“As pro-business as we are, we can’t go that far overboard,” said Ovrom. “If the airport is too big, it will suffocate us. If John Wayne can support all of Orange County with 14 gates and a curfew, why can’t the Burbank airport support the San Fernando Valley with 16?”
Lisa Steen Proctor