International School of Los Angeles Closes Escrow on West Half of Pickwick Property

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(Photo by Ross A Benson)

The International School of Los Angeles (Lycée International de Los Angeles – LILA) has announced that they have closed escrow on the purchase of the west half portion of the Pickwick property, known as Parcel 2.

Map supplied by LILA showing the Parcel of land that they just closed escrow on

Parcel 2 includes the Pickwick Gardens banquet area, the ice rink, and the attached parking lot. Overall, the area is 3.8 acres in size, and they say will increase the school’s campus footprint by 80%.

In a press release, LILA Board Chair Taline Grigorian said, “As the governing body of the School, the Board of Trustees acts in a fiduciary capacity to advance our mission, and steadfastly move our School towards its vision of becoming the premier international school in Los Angeles. As such, it made sense for the School to seize the opportunity to expand its grounds, eventually opening up options our current space could not have accommodated.”

Presently, the east area of the property, or Parcel 1, has been the subject of contention between the developer and the City of Burbank after Rancho residents complained about the development, which skirted local zoning by evoking SB35, where they can use the City’s General Plan to override the zoning. The current plan by MW Investments calls for plans for constructing 98 townhomes on the site, with housing that will consist of for-sale units rather than a rental property. 10 of the 98 units will be cost-effective for low-income residents in compliance with California State guidelines. The City Council has put a hold on the project.

LILA has nothing to do with the housing development, and their purchase of Parcel 2 is completely separate.

Currently, the entire Pickwick property is zoned Commercial Recreation, and the school next door is currently zoned Garden Office.

If they wish to develop the property for school expansion in the future, the City of Burbank’s Community Development Department would not address the question of what process the school would have to do to change the zoning or if the zoning would have to be changed b before they could submit future plans. All they would say in an email was, “The City of Burbank’s Community Development Department has not received a proposal for the referenced property.  Additionally, planning and land use analysis of any given project is fact intensive and specific to the given proposed project, such that the City cannot speculate on the applicable rules or entitlement procedures”.

According to Leslie Galerne, Director of Advancement for the International School of Los Angeles, they are happy to acquire the land and as yet to decide what their future expansion plans are. “The acquisition is still so fresh that our school leadership team and Board of Trustees have not finalized a usage or development plan just yet.

As you can imagine, this will take some time as we consider our options. Zoning will also depend on how we choose to develop/use the space; but school zoning is permitted, subject to approval,” said Galerne.

Back in 2019, Pickwick Ice was officially changed to Los Angeles Kings Ice At Pickwick Gardens (Photo by Ross A. Benson)

Currently, the ice rink, which was renamed Los Angeles Kings Ice At Pickwick Gardens in 2019, has 16 years left on their lease that will be honored, as well as any other leases that will be revenue generating, which precludes the School from developing the newly-acquired facilities for school usage in the foreseeable future.

“Their (the ice rink’s) lease has just over 16 years remaining, so that will not factor in any immediate plans,” said Galerne. “Once we are ready to make our plans public, we’ll be sure to share them.”

LILA, which was founded in 1978 expanded into its location in Burbank in 2012 after buying the property and has been good neighbors to the Ranch community since. The School has welcomed neighbors on campus for numerous community events, joined the Burbank Chamber of Commerce, and sponsored local events.

“Typically, schools expand by purchasing small parcels as they become available, a process that can take decades. This acquisition helps us expand our campus in a way that will help us better plan for the future of our students,” said Head of School, Michael Maniska in the release. “We could not be more thrilled to further deepen our roots in this lovely community and look forward to welcoming our neighbors to LILA events for years to come.”