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Saturday, May 28, 2022

Project Gets Burbank OK

A decade after a developer went out of business fighting for a high-density mixed-use project on one of the most prized land parcels in Burbank, the city has approved a scaled-down version of the concept. Last week, the City Council approved the $150 million Talaria at Burbank project. The 3401 W. Olive Ave. property has been owned by Cusumano Real Estate Group for six years, but only a year ago did the hometown company pitch a development, which will include 241 upscale apartments and a ground floor Whole Foods Market Inc. grocery. “There’s certainly a sense of satisfaction,” said Michael Cusumano, managing partner of the family-owned development firm. “Throughout this process, we’ve felt very confident that we’re bringing forth the best possible project.” Though some in the city still consider Talaria too dense, it’s more than 100,000 square feet smaller than a plan the city approved before the bust. Developer Platt Cos. spent about five years trying to build a much larger project that it was forced to scale down in 2005. The project went through a lengthy fight that eventually put Platt out of business, forcing the group to lose the entitled project in bankruptcy. Cusumano picked up the property from Fortress Investment Group LLC of New York, which bought it out of bankruptcy, as part of a portfolio in 2008 for an undisclosed sum. The Council voted 4-1 in favor of the project, with Mayor David Gordon dissenting. Most of the pushback from residents was over traffic concerns. Residents are worried the project would create substantial traffic in the neighborhood north of the site. “This city seems to think we don’t have a significant traffic problem. I just don’t get it,” said Bradley Davis, 67, a life-long Burbank resident who lives about two football fields from the property. “The cut-through traffic is already killing us. This is too dense.” At the meeting, the city agreed to set aside $1 million toward traffic mitigation. Cusumano said the development could break ground by summer and be open for business in fall 2017. The first phase will be removing the current tenants at the 3.8-acre property and demolishing the structures, which include several small multifamily buildings, offices, a church and the Dimples karaoke bar that opened in 1982. All the tenants are on short term leases with Cusumano. One reason for optimism is the changing demographics of Burbank. With new upscale office buildings and chic eateries, the Media City is not the same blue-collar town many residents grew up in. Though Platt went through several proposals on the land, it was ultimately approved for a mix of residential and commercial space that would have been more than 500,000 square feet. Talaria is about 385,000 square feet. “We could’ve built the previously entitled project. But we made a conscious decision to entitle a smaller project,” Cusumano said. “We have tried to design this project to be responsive to what we think Burbank is today and what it will be in the future.” Good market Talaria is approved for 84 one-bedroom, 123 two-bedroom and 33 three-bedroom units in a five-story project. In addition to the Whole Foods, the building will feature open courtyards, a pool, outdoor barbecue area, lounge, fitness center, laundry and dry-cleaning pickup service and free high-speed Internet in certain common areas. The project has 760 parking spaces, with 461 secured for residential – something Gordon thought was insufficient. Demand for the project should be there. Even as neighboring Glendale has approved thousands of upscale units in mixed-use projects, brokers think supply has not yet outpaced demand. Adam Christofferson, regional manager at the Encino office of Marcus & Millichap Inc. said Burbank is a good market for a project like Talaria. “It is a tight rental market that hasn’t had much new development in the past 10 years,” he said. “Of course, there have been new projects here and there, but anything new and sexy in as strong a market as Burbank will get plenty of hype.” Davis, the homeowner, isn’t concerned with demand. Instead, he’s worried about the long-term impacts of construction in the area. Talaria is adjacent to the 1-acre Bob Hope lot, owned by Worthe Real Estate Group in Santa Monica, which is entitled for 111,000 square feet of office. Davis said if those two projects were to be under construction at the same time, it would make traversing the Media District impossible. “These are right next to our precious neighborhoods. It will be a parking lot.” he said. “We’ve hit critical mass.

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