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Real Estate Connections Conference Focuses On Tri-Cities

Downtown Los Angeles Next

The recent Los Angeles Headquarters Association’s REAL ESTATE CONNECTIONS 2007 regional conference series focused on development, redevelopment, and the economy in the Tri-Cities, bringing together key government and private industry leaders from

Burbank, Glendale, and Encino for an inside look at the key issues and challenges facing the region.

Philip Lanzafame, Director of Development Services for the City of Glendale, moderated a discussion among Ed Chuchla, Senior Vice President of Corporate Real Estate for The Walt Disney Company, Chris Glennon, Head of Real Estate and Operations for DreamWorks Studios, and Tom Smith, Senior Vice President of NBC Universal on the role of the media and entertainment in the Tri-Cities.

The speakers agreed that entertainment and media companies are definitely important to the cities’ economic growth.  Each of the three companies has a major physical presence in the Tri-Cities, but beyond buildings and facilities, panelists noted that major entertainment and media firms employ a large percentage of the local population, drive infrastructure modernization, develop creative community plans, and support education within the communities.

Richard Bruckner, Director of the  Development and Development Department for the City of Pasadena, joined Robert Champion, President of Champion Development Group, J. Peter Devereaux, FAIA, Principal and Corporate President of Harley Ellis Devereaux, William Flaherty, Vice President of Marketing for Maguire Properties, Inc., and David Saeta, Senior Vice President of IDS Real Estate Group, in looking at the future of mixed-use, office, and retail development in the area.

Commercial vacancies in the Tri-Cities at an all time low - Glendale at 6%, Burbank at sub 3% and Pasadena at 3.5 to 4% - leading to a serious need for more Class A office space.  To meet this need several developers are involved in commercial projects, including Maguire Properties in Glendale and IDS in Pasadena.  At the same time, with a population that is growing and housing affordability shrinking in the Tri-Cities and similar regions, there is an immediate and long-term need for higher density housing options and workforce affordable housing.

Capping off the program, Pasadena Mayor William Bogaard, Glendale Mayor Ara Najarian, and Burbank Mayor Marsha Ramos joined Ed Casey, Conference Chair and Managing Partner of Weston Benshoof Rochefort Rubalcava MacCuish LLP, for an discussion of the present and future of the Tri-Cities.   The mayors agreed that each was most proud of their cities accomplishments in  comprehensive planning - the Downtown Specific Plan in Glendale, the Media District and Downtown Specific Plan in Burbank, and the Pasadena General Plan. 

In terms of the cities’ key challenges, Mayor Najarian cited managing growth, including maintaining traffic, housing prices, adequate parking, and infrastructure, Mayor Ramos discussed managing and balancing growth and development, communicating what SmartGrowth issues mean to the average citizen, and educating the community as to the benefits of increased density, and Mayor Bogaard focused on development in this decade,  elevating rules on land use and development, managing growth, and responding to resident concerns and preserving quality of life while encouraging new business growth. 

Overall, attendees came away with a invaluable understanding of the exciting future of Tri-Cities development and the complex and interesting challenges to be faced in the region.