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Downtown dying a slow death A recent letter writer...

December 14, 2002

Downtown dying a slow death

A recent letter writer to the Leader is absolutely correct when

she cites the loss of a Laemmle Theatre as part of the long, dismal

parade of bad news for downtown Burbank. When this possibility first

came up several years ago, I was shocked that not one person on

either our planning board or City Council spoke to the issue -- they

had no idea of what getting a Laemmle would mean for Burbank.


In fact, one planning board member -- whose name I will charitably

keep silent -- actually said at a meeting (and this is an almost

exact quote), "Well, when it comes to this so-called art theater, I

don't know about anyone else, but when I want to see a movie, I send

my kid down to the local Blockbuster to get something." It became

clear to me that, like the recent Urban Outfitters debacle, our civic

leaders have only a hazy idea of what life is like outside our

borders -- if not a limited vision of the possibilities of life


Although I'm almost never sympathetic to our city staff, I really

felt for them the other night when they all but pleaded with the

council to approve the Newberry's project. It would be understandable

if the council withheld the full subsidy on the grounds of an

ideological opposition to these kinds of schemes. But that's not what

happened with our council that night; they turned down an opportunity

to build a downtown Urban Outfitters solely because they were

concerned about subsidizing two other sites that already have rental

agreements with tenants.

I can't speak for anyone else, but I don't lie awake at night

worrying about the prospects for the old Denco building, whose owners

have been receiving huge five-figure checks from the Blockbuster

parent company every month. They have had no incentive to occupy

their empty property the past five years, so why our council

torpedoed the Newberry's project in favor of them, I'll never figure

out. But -- sadly -- it's par for the course here in Burbank. Urban

Outfitters could have been the first step in an upscale revival of

downtown Burbank. But the council blew it. They didn't know any

better. From the same crowd that didn't know quite what the Laemmle

art theater chain was all about, we can't expect anything better. But

is this really what we deserve?



Not everyone can afford trendy stores

In response to Kathy Anaya's letter about the stores in the Media

City Center: I am sorry the shops at the Media City Center are too

low-class or not trendy enough for her. Not all of us folks in

Burbank have the money to shop at such expensive stores as Ann

Taylor. There are many of us in Burbank whose finances only warrant

shopping at Macy's if their sale is really good, and Sears and


Could the reason that the Card Shoppe and Ann Taylor are no longer

in the mall be that the rent is too high and the stores couldn't

afford it? If stores don't make profits, they aren't going to stay.



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