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Spotlight/24″/mike1st/dt2nd Snapshot: Burbank Year Founded: 1911 Origins: Was part of a Spanish land grant in the late 1700s that was later sold to David Burbank, a dentist and one of the city’s founders. Lockheed Corp. came to town in 1928, putting the city on the map as a major aerospace center. Business Profile: The mostly industrial uses around Burbank Airport are giving way to offices now that entertainment has replaced aerospace as one of the city’s primary employers. By CHRISTOPHER WOODARD Staff Reporter When Lockheed Martin Corp. closed its aircraft manufacturing operation in Burbank in 1991, the city lost its biggest employer and some 12,000 jobs. “It was absolutely devastating. You couldn’t live in this town and not have a friend or a neighbor who wasn’t affected,” said City Manager Bud Ovrom. But eight years after Lockheed left town, Burbank is in the midst of an economic resurgence that has seen the old heavy-manufacturing jobs replaced by entertainment-industry work. While Lockheed’s pullout came as a severe jolt to the community, it freed up a vital asset that has become increasingly scarce in the San Fernando Valley: large tracts of land. “We had 500 acres become available, huge chunks of land with freeway visibility and access to Burbank Airport,” said Ovrom. “All of a sudden, I felt like I was in Lancaster.” Since Lockheed’s departure, Burbank has seen a surge in development at land formerly owned by the aerospace giant near the Burbank Airport, an area that is part of a city redevelopment project. The Hilton Hotel doubled in size, adding a 250-room wing and a conference center on former Lockheed land along Thornton Avenue near Hollywood Way. Next door, on another former Lockheed site, M. David Paul Development LLC is building a 1.2 million-square-foot, campus-style office complex. The developer started work on that site by gutting and renovating a top-secret Lockheed building that was windowless and clad in metal sheeting to keep spy satellites from peering inside. Paul added thousands of square feet of windows to the structure, which had been known to locals as the “aluminum building.” The developer kept a metal skin on the exterior to give it a high-tech look. The building is now occupied by the Walt Disney Co.’s feature animation operation. Also on that site, Paul has built a new 200,000-square-foot building, and three more new structures are planned. The pace of development is based on demand. “That’s really the way to do it. By building low-rise buildings, not skyscrapers, he can pace the development based on demand,” said Ovrom. The city, meanwhile, has helped attract a new Fry’s Electronics store to a former Lockheed parcel at North Hollywood Way and Vanowen Street, and now the store brings in close to $1 million a year in sales taxes to the city’s coffers. “That was really Nowheresville before,” said Ovrom, referring to the Fry’s site. “Now it’s our biggest sales tax generator.” One of the city’s most ambitious projects is a retail/office complex being developed by Los Angeles-based Zelman Development Co. on a 103-acre former Lockheed parcel along the Golden State (5) Freeway. The buildings that once stood on the site were so top secret that Lockheed’s own head of real estate didn’t have clearance to go inside. The company, fearful spies might gain insight into its production practices, used its own team to demolish the structures. Zelman, which took over the project when Phoenix-based Vestar Development Co. pulled out late last year, plans to build about 585,000 square feet of retail space, up to 600,000 square feet of office space, a 350-room hotel and an auto center. Ben Reiling, president of Zelman, said he is looking for four retailers to occupy a combined 200,000 square feet of the project’s space. While some major retailers have expressed interest in the project, Reiling said, none have signed leases yet. Zelman is also in talks with companies interested in leasing office space which is designed to be campus-style as well as two firms interested in running hotels on the property, according to Reiling. “When you look around, it’s not very often you find enough land to develop 100 acres at one crack,” said Reiling. “While (Lockheed’s departure) was a blow to the city for a while, in the long term it’s going to be very good.” Gary Olson, president of the Burbank Chamber of Commerce, said community residents had an inkling that Lockheed was going to pull up stakes in the early ’80s. “We had some time to prepare, but once it happened, it had tremendous impact on Burbank,” said Olson. “A number of those employees were residents of the city, and all of a sudden we had all these people selling their homes. It was tough.” Lockheed, after all, had been a major part of the community since 1928. The company made fighter jets and bombers, beginning with World War II and including modern-day warplanes such as the F-117 Nighthawk. “At one time, Lockheed accounted for 25 percent of the electricity used in the city,” said Olson. But in Lockheed’s place is emerging a new economy. “The Zelman project is going to be quite unique and dynamic,” said Olson. “It has frontage and signage along a major freeway. How many communities can offer that?” Ovrom added that many of the old Lockheed buildings had outlived their economic usefulness anyway, so in that sense it has been a blessing for the city to have the chance to redevelop the properties. “It was a real hardship on the people who worked there, but it was inevitable that that space was going to be recycled,” said Ovrom. “We knew that when the recycling was done, we would have more jobs, cleaner industry and a stronger tax base.”

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