Braude Center Fails to Spark Action By SLAV KANDYBA Staff Reporter Short of the new Marvin Braude San Fernando Valley Constituent Service Center, the stretch of Van Nuys Boulevard from Victory Boulevard up to the edge of Panorama City has been devoid of development. And while business leaders would like to see more development and place blame on “absentee” owners, along with other reasons, they are puzzled at why nothing has happened after the Braude Center was built. “It defies logic why there aren’t more shopping and retail areas,” said Bruce Ackerman, President and CEO of the Economic Alliance of the San Fernando Valley. “If there should be something of a catalyst, one would think an administrative center.” But the developer who built Braude Center is optimistic that the stretch of Van Nuys will be “ultimately” developed. “It’s a little more difficult (to build there because) there are a lot of little lots and individual owners,” said Tim Regan, vice president of development and acquisitions at Voit Development Co. “Being able to get that all together is a big undertaking,” Regan said. According to Regan, Robert D. Voit, president and CEO of Voit Development, envisioned the Braude Center and The Plant development further north “as the two bookends” within which Van Nuys Boulevard would be redeveloped. Voit still believes it can happen, Regan said. But so far, development has just barely scratched the surface literally. Under former Mayor Richard Riordan, $3 million was allocated to improve some of the storefront facades between Oxnard and Vanowen streets. “The purpose was to sort of give it a jumpstart and do a certain number of blocks so that some folks would begin to improve their blocks as well,” said Sandy Kievman, a field deputy for Councilwoman Cindy Miscikowski, whose district once included this region of Van Nuys. But even another $3 million grant didn’t do enough to spur development, although “people were beginning to fix up their buildings,” Kievman said. The multi-story former federal office building north of Vanowen has been vacant and untouched by developers because it is expensive to demolish due to asbestos, Kievman said. “There was also an uncooperative property owner,” Kievman said. “It just never got anywhere.” Further, Kievman added that stretch of the Boulevard was not eligible for CRA funding. “There was no rationalization to get money (because) Van Nuys did not have any earthquake damage,” she said. But the reasons for the stunted development revert back to “absentee” ownership and the lack of developer interest, according to Nancy Hoffman Vanyek, CEO of the Mid Valley Chamber of Commerce “Some people are trying to invest it’s just they are not on Van Nuys Boulevard (but) right off the boulevard,” Hoffman Vanyek said. It is only through concerted effort that anything can change nothing short of a “plan for the rebirth of that area,” Economic Alliance’s Ackerman said.