"I don't think the project is dead," City Manager Bud Ovrom said. "But
it's not moving forward as we would like."
Ovrom and other city officials said they are expecting a scaled-down
proposal from Beverly Hills-based Regent Properties within the next 30
days. They acknowledged the new plans could be significantly different
from the project approved by the City Council on July 20.
Regent President Jeff Dinkin was unavailable for comment.
Regent's troubles come at a time when several other big-ticket
developments in Burbank are sailing along.
Zelman Development Companies will seek City Council approval in the
spring for a $200-million retail, office and hotel development on
Lockheed Martin Corp.'s former "B-1" property.
On Jan. 18, the City Council approved The Accord Group's 253-room
Marriott hotel where the Bombay Bicycle Club once stood.
AMC Theatres has plans for a new $76-million complex, which includes a
16-plex, restaurants and a health club. Construction is scheduled to
start in April.
Things haven't been as smooth for Regent's Burbank Plaza.
Slated for the former Police Department headquarters, Burbank Plaza
was to have included a 300-room hotel, 209,728 square feet of office
space, 68,187 square feet of retail and restaurants and an art house
theater. The project was planned for 3.4 acres bounded by Olive Avenue on
the west, Third Street on the north, Angeleno Avenue on the east and San
Fernando Boulevard on the south.
Since its approval, Burbank Plaza has come under fire for the
$7.4-million assistance package offered by the Redevelopment Agency.
Councilman Dave Golonski cast the lone vote against the project. He
pointed out that Regent's initial proposal, in January 1998, asked for
minimum assistance from the agency.
Developers have yet to nail down a formal agreement with Marriott
International, which has asked for several design changes, said project
manager Ruth Davidson-Guerra.
In January, Regent submitted an architectural plan that wasn't warmly
received by the Redevelopment Agency. The plan did not include the Art
Deco architecture Regent agreed to, Davidson-Guerra wrote in a Jan. 20
letter to Dinkin.
"It seemed to slip away a little bit," Davidson-Guerra said. "It was
mostly just a glass building."
As part of the project, Regent and the Redevelopment Agency also must
relocate 33 businesses and tenants on San Fernando, Olive and Angeleno.
So far, only nine tenants have signed relocation agreements with the
agency, Davidson-Guerra said.
Sepon Istepanyan, who owns the Photo Art Shop on San Fernando, said he
hasn't heard from the agency or developer since July. The uncertainty has
led to fear among merchants in the project area, he said.
"It's really bad," Istepanyan said. "It's affecting everybody. We're
really getting tired of these people not doing anything."
Community Development Director Bob Tague acknowledged the project has
"If costs go higher, there will be changes in the project," Tague
said. "But they've still got a signed contract with the city."