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City offers trade, buyout of Ford land

December 11, 2002

Jackson Bell

Frustrated by the lack of response from the Ford Motor Co. about

plans for its property along the Golden State (5) Freeway, the city

is offering to trade land with the car corporation or buy back the

plot.

Galpin Ford had once planned to use the space at 777 N. Front St.

-- considered prime real estate by the city -- to build a new

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dealership, but backed out in 1997 after failing to reach proximity

agreement with other nearby Ford-owned dealerships. The land was left

vacant.

After a letter sent four months ago by Mayor David Laurell went

unanswered, he proposed a land swap or buying the space in another

letter to Donald K. Huffman, Ford's national market representation

manager. Of the 12 acres, Ford owns eight and the city owns the rest.

"It's an absolutely superlative auto dealership location and Ford

is just sitting on it with nothing happening," City Manager Bud Ovrom

said. "It's very frustrating."

The most recent letter, written Dec. 3, reiterated that sentiment,

with Laurell stating he was also "disappointed and frustrated" with

Ford's disregard for the site once home to the Zero Corp.

Laurell also requested Ford demolish the dilapidated building on

the site and clean it of toxins. He suggested Ford consider selling

the space -- which it originally purchased for $13 million -- back to

the city so "we could undertake the task of putting the site back

into productive use." The city would then pursue another automotive

dealership.

Ford did not return calls for comment.

According to the Natelson Study of 2000, an in-depth analysis of

Burbank's economy, the city misses out on $75 million yearly from the

lack of potential auto-dealership revenues. The only major dealership

is Community Chevrolet on Olive Avenue.

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