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Burbank's Rise

When considering California's best retail markets, Burbank isn't the first place that jumps to mind. But thanks to a major push by its downtown BID, Burbank is becoming a 24-hour market.

Retailers in Burbank saw sales increase 9 percent in 2005. Burbank retail sales now rank in the top 10 of 88 Los Angeles County cities, with per capita retail sales at $18,000 annually, nearly double the county's $9,900 per capita average.

“The BID was the funding source that initiated revitalization, allowed us to do events and provided funding for marketing materials,” says Gail Stewart, manager of Downtown Burbank Partnership Inc. Under the partnership, downtown property owners agreed to a five-year tax assessment for improvements that would attract people to downtown and encourage them to spend time and money, she says, noting that the property owners were asked to decide how money collected would be spent.

“So far we've put in a Wi-Fi system (so people can sit in downtown and use their computers for free), created goodwill ambassadors to answer questions and provide directions, and launched a ton of events,” says Stewart.

Such moves have helped attract a rash of new projects.

Burbank Entertainment Village, a project of Kansas-based AMC Entertainment, Inc., provided the centerpiece for the downtown redevelopment plan. The second phase of that project, which is under way, involves the Burbank Champion Collection, a mixed-use project by locally based Champion Development that includes 118 residential units, 50,000 square feet of retail and restaurant space and a 731-space parking structure.

Irvine, Calif.-based Crown Realty & Development recently completed $17 million in renovations at the 1.2-million-square-foot Burbank Town Center, a regional mall anchoring the north edge of the city's three-block Village promenade, which includes the AMC theater complex, 200 stores and more than 60 restaurants, eateries and coffee shops.

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