Last year’s announcement that NBC would move from its lot created a vacancy in the Media Center lot, which opened the door for M. David Paul to construct new media-related offices in a section of Los Angeles County that features some of the lowest vacancy rates.
In the fourth quarter of last year, Burbank recorded the lowest office vacancy rate in the county at 3.8%, a figure well below Glendale’s 14.1% and Pasadena’s 10.1% vacancy rates, according to figures released by the real estate advisory firm Grubb & Ellis Co.
Officials expect NBC to begin its transition to Universal City by 2011, when a three-year lease the studio agreed to with M. David Paul is set to expire. But the studio has the option to extend the contract if necessary, a process that could last for many years, Burbank Chamber of Commerce President Gary Olson said.
“They’re not tearing down sound stages,” he said. “They will continue to have a presence in Burbank.”
For example, sound stages for “The Ellen DeGeneres Show” will remain in Burbank, he said.
When M. David Paul secured the lot, it was done under the guise of the city’s 20-year master plan, which NBC and Burbank agreed to in 1997, assuring that any new tenants must work in a media-related field, Hermann said.
Part of the rationale behind that deal was to ensure that traffic would be staggered throughout the day and night, limiting the crunch on some of Burbank’s major thoroughfares at peak hours.
But there are still concerns that the new tenants will inundate the area.
“It’s going to surpass capacity of street infrastructure,” Councilman David Gordon said.
Gordon cast the only dissenting vote when the City Council transferred the NBC agreement to M. David Paul at a December meeting, saying that the new site could be more commercial and could increase the amount of vehicles passing through Burbank’s streets.
Others conceded traffic will increase, but the city cannot conduct new studies on traffic unless M. David Paul deviates from the master plan, something they have not done, Deputy City Planner Joy Forbes said.
Still, Olson is optimistic that the new tenants will work with the city to alleviate the traffic crunch.
“The studios have always been cognizant and very conscious of the sensitivities involving traffic,” he said. “They always have staggered work hours, so they don’t hit during peak business hours. There is an awareness to be good citizens.”
JEREMY OBERSTEIN covers City Hall and public safety. He may be reached at (818) 637-3242 or by e-mail at jeremy.oberstein@ latimes.com.