Burbank wrangles Whole Foods out of town

first_imgBURBANK – A split City Council on Tuesday night shot down the controversial Whole Foods Market proposed in the Rancho equestrian district, a victory for neighborhood residents who feared a traffic nightmare, but killing a chance for the popular natural foods grocer to locate a store in the city. The council voted 3-2 to deny the market proposed at 901 W. Alameda Avenue, which was appealing its case. The rejection came despite several attempts by the developer to reduce the store size to 52,340 square-feet from 59,500 square-feet proposed, and to create a fund to address traffic, equestrian safety and other concerns in a community where houses come with backyard stables. “I would hope that Whole Foods wouldn’t fold its tent,” said Mayor Todd Campbell, who supported the store. “We desperately want a Whole Foods in Burbank. “What people are worried about (is) they don’t want their identity to change. I still support it. I think it’s better than a lot of projects. Maybe we need to do more to support the equestrian life, regardless of the Whole Foods.” But Councilman David Gordon said store proposal defied earlier zoning for the lot – a smaller “specialty food store” – which was amended in 1998. “It seems to be a run-around of our existing zoning, or at least the intent of it.” Gordon said. “It’s the right store and the right time,” said Councilwoman Marsha Ramos. “The problem is it’s not the right place.” But Councilman Jef Vander Bought said the city should not pass up on what could be a boon for the neighborhood. “It is an opportunity for us to do something for the city,” he said. “There will be impacts for some that live close to the area, but these are impacts we all face.” Councilman David Golonski, who suggested previously the store be reduced to about 40,000 square-feet, said he still believed the proposal before him was too big. “I do have concerns about the size and the intensity driven by the size,” he said. “I’m still looking considerably smaller.” Based in Austin, Texas, Whole Foods is known for its progressive environmentalism and organic produce and is a much-sought-after business for cities. The nearest outlets are in Glendale and Sherman Oaks. [email protected] (818) 546-3304160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set! Michael Hastings, a consultant and former City Council member working with developer Tom Davies, declined to comment on the decision, but Rancho resident Roman Gora, who helped organize the opposition, relished the victory. “I’m mainly appreciative that the council understand uniqueness of the Rancho and concerns of the neighborhood,” Gora said. “We wish Whole Foods well in finding a new location.” The market was proposed for Alameda Avenue – a busy four-lane road – and Main Street, a narrow two-lane road that empties into the Los Angeles Equestrian Center. The store, which was to include two levels of underground parking, was slated for a 76,000-square-foot lot. The projected car trips to the proposed store were cut to about 4,170 per day, down from 4,854 according to the most recent estimates. The number of car trips from the office building now on the site totals about 1,700 trips per day, city studies said. “The Whole Foods Market fits this site,” said Davies, the project’s Westlake Village-based developer. last_img read more