The Burbank Leader online now requires payment to read, which feels like the end of era. But we’ll revisit that at a later date. For now, here’s a letter to the editor about a possible option for the soon-to-be “old” Ikea site that will close when the new mega-site opens in 2017. I never sent this to the editorial staff as I’ve since learned what may be in store for the site. Expect word on that in The Burbank Leader soon. Maybe even this week. For now, here’s an idea that will definitely never see the light of day.
For some Burbankers, “Bud” Ovrom’s Op-Ed regarding land-use decisions for the old IKEA site conjures up images of gigantic new developments that will negatively alter Burbank. But what if there was a more practical way to proceed? Something incremental as opposed to transformative? What if the old IKEA site became the new Downtown Burbank Convention Center? There would be minimal changes needed to the existing building. It’s nearly five times the square footage of the Burbank Marriott space. Additionally, it has ample parking, the proper construction and lighting, has loading docks, a food court and offices. Retrofitting the space would be much smarter and more cost effective than tearing down the whole area and starting fresh. Convention-goers would have many eating and shopping options in walking distance. It could have a big impact on the area. There would be challenges, of course. Traffic is always a concern as is proximity to hotels. But a few shuttle stops could mitigate some of this. The limited size of the Marriott Convention center is driving away popular annual events like Monsterpalooza, which has moved to Pasadena for their increased floor space. I assume other events have faced the same problem. A new use for a massive space might be the smarter option and well worth investigating.