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$400M Residential, Office Project Pitched To Replace Burbank Fry's Electronics

A rendering of the Burbank Aero Crossing project.

LaTerra Development is moving forward on a project that would replace an existing Fry’s Electronics store near the Hollywood-Burbank Airport with a residential and office development. 

The project, called Burbank Aero Crossings, would create 862 residential units, 151K SF of office space and parking for 1,613 cars on the more-than-10-acre site at Hollywood Way and Empire Avenue, according to environmental review documents published Friday by the city of Burbank.

Urban Architecture Lab is designing the project, which LaTerra Managing Director Chris Tourtellotte estimated would cost more than $400M. The Burbank Fry’s Electronics opened in 1995, according to The chain closed all its stores in February of this year.

Replacing it will be much-needed affordable housing. Burbank has approximately 45,000 housing units but an estimated daytime employment of over 130,000, according to the city's draft housing element published this year. The city set a goal of adding 12,000 more units by 2035.

“Burbank is a great market, but it’s in a severe housing crisis,” Tourtellotte said in a phone call Monday.

The 862 residential units range from studios to three-bedrooms and include standard apartments and live/work units. Eighty of the units would be available to very-low-income households and deed-restricted as such for 55 years. A four-person household would have to make $59,100 a year or less to qualify for the units.

The average one-bedroom in Burbank rented for $1,780 in May, according to apartment rental site Zumper. Rents in Burbank were down 8.7% year-over-year, but have started to rise again, increasing 1.7% from April, Zumper found.

A rendering of the project seen from Valhalla Drive looking north.

The housing in the project would be spread across two buildings, each of which would have residential units, lobbies and restaurants on their first floors. The four-building development would reach seven stories at its tallest. 

The office portion of the project would be contained in one five-story building connected to a five-story parking structure, both topped by solar panels. The office building would have patios on every floor.

Tourtellotte described the project as transit-oriented. It's walkable to the Burbank Airport-South Metrolink station, which is about a tenth of a mile away. The development is also close to jobs, which makes walking or biking to work more feasible for residents, Tourtellotte said.

But the development also includes over 1,600 parking spaces, which is more than it is required to provide due, in part, to its transit-close location. Tourtellotte said parking was very important to the existing community members during planning meetings for the project.

“LaTerra wants to encourage residents to use public transportation, to bike, to walk, and to keep cars off the road, so we’re always trying to strike the right balance," Tourtellotte said. 

Burbank Aero Crossings is seeking approvals from Burbank including a density bonus and conditional use permit to build residential on a property zoned for business uses. The project could begin construction as early as July 2022, the documents note, with the development fully complete as early as the end of 2025. 

LaTerra has another development in Burbank at 777 Front St., a $375M project that will contain apartments and a hotel and is under construction.