The Great Indoors site at the Empire Center in Burbank is still vacant and probably will be that way for a while. That doesn’t mean the world’s largest retailer, Walmart, has lost interest in constructing a proposed 143,000 square foot supercenter at 1301 North Victory Place. Not hardly.
On November 5, 2013, the Burbank City Council voted 3-2 not to appeal a judge’s ruling, which put the brakes on the project. Council members Gary Bric and Jess Talamantes supported the appeal. Mayor Emily Gabel-Luddy, Councilmen Dr. David Gordon, and Bob Frutos were opposed.
Several weeks earlier, Los Angeles County Superior Court Judge, Allan J. Goodman, handed down a decision ordering the city to rescind building permits issued to Walmart. Goodman said the city needed to complete an environmental study and street improvements before approving those permits. The judge sided with three Burbank residents, Katherine Olson, Shanna Ingalsbee, and Yvette Ziraldo, who filed a lawsuit back in 2012 to block the Walmart store.
Despite the lack of support from the city, Walmart vowed to appeal the ruling and continue the fight. A few days after the Burbank City Council vote, Walmart quietly filed an appeal with the 2nd District Court of Appeal, according to Rachel Wall, Walmart spokesperson.
Wall sent me this company statement:
“We are committed to the Burbank store and to bringing business back to the long-vacant, former retail space. Our customers in Burbank are looking for a choice for affordable goods closer to where they live and work, and the community has been eagerly awaiting the hundreds of construction and permanent good jobs the store will create. As a result, last year we appealed the trial court decision and look forward to a ruling from the appellate court later this year. We strongly believe that our permits were granted properly, and should be treated no differently than the 1,300 similar permits granted for other Empire Center businesses since 2000.”
So the Burbank Walmart store project has taken some serious hits — but it’s not quite dead yet.