Owners of Pickwick Properties Call for Rezoning, Redevelopment


Last night, September 14, those campaigning for a change to the Pickwick Gardens held a special meeting to discuss plans for redevelopment. The land in question consists of two parcels, and is roughly 8.5 acres.

Those in attendance of the meeting were notified of its existence through mail or word-of-mouth. The meeting was not announced on any city website, or even the website dedicated to the Pickwick Gardens Redevelopment. Still, the room was packed and chairs quickly ran out. It was clear before the meeting began that this was an important issue for our community.

The Pickwick properties have been a staple of the Burbank community for decades. The ice rink, which opened in 1960, and the bowling alley, which opened in 1958, are set to close along with the other Pickwick properties and the Viva Catina restaurant located across Riverside Drive. The site is center stage for a battle between the community members and those behind the redevelopment plans over the issue of rezoning the area.

Reason for Closure

The meeting began with Ron Stavert, current President and Chief Executive Officer, explaining the burdens and pitfalls of maintaining both the Pickwick Ice Rink and Pickwick Bowling Alley. Stavert continued by stating that there has been a lack of interest in both ice skating and bowling over the years.


Shortly after coming to the conclusion that the land should be redeveloped, owners of the land decided to partner with Shea Properties. Shea Properties is heavily into the construction business, having been involved in major projects such as the Hoover Dam, The Bay Area Rapid Transit System, and the Purple Line Extension in Los Angeles. However, as clearly stated in the redevelopment website, “Shea Homes will build its 100,000 single-family home this year.”

New Concepts

The meeting continued with a couple of representatives from the Shea Properties company. They began their portion of the meeting by stating that there are no solid concepts, ideas, or plans for the redevelopment project. They also stated that there are many possibilities that can come out of this redevelopment.

However, the remaining portion of their presentation, which consisted of Powerpoint-like slides, zeroed in on housing opportunities. As it stands right now, this property is the “only private property in Burbank that is zoned Commercial Recreation.” It’s also important to note that the property “is not currently zoned for any type of residential usage.” This is a detail that Stavert and Shea Properties hope to change. In order for that to happen, an amendment would have to be approved by the Planning Board and the decision must be ratified by the City Council. No members of the Planning Board, nor the City Council spoke during the presentation.

The presentation also included slides depicting what the property would look like with housing units. Talk of town homes and apartments were met with loud boos and general dismay from the community members in attendance. It seemed that the community does not want commercial business or large housing projects replace the current structures.

The apartment buildings would theoretically be four stories high, with open spaces between buildings. Garages for the housing would be located under the apartments/town homes.


    1. The streets are already a menace due to overcrowding, Burbank needs another community recreational site…not more apartments! It will destroy the whole Burbank vibe. NO TO RESIDENTIAL building!!

      • “it will destroy the whole Burbank vibe”? Classic. Too funny.

        Just wait till the new neighbors that move in start complaining about all the horse flies!

        Progress at it’s finest.

    2. Why these idiots destroying families, a place where the family could spend quality time together!
      I have been to Viva’s since early 2000 and it is where family and friends spend great memorable times together while listening to great music.

      If I had the money I would buy the whole property.

      Let’s get every musician together and save these historic pieces of property. Don’t kill the families!


    3. Why not just pave over McCambridge Park while you’re at it? This City Council won’t be happy till every square inch of Burbank has a five story mixed use building on it.

    4. Doesn’t anyone remember when the Stavert’s announced they were eliminating the skating rink and bowling ally 27 years ago??? Does anyone remember the group who rallied to save the rink? If you would like to see old newspaper articles from 26 years ago when a dedicated group fought to save the rink, let me know.

    5. The traffic on Riverside Drive and surrounding areas is already congested since the Disney studios moved in and going East on Riverside is packed with cars rushing, trying to get home and present a real danger to existing horse properties. This small area of Burbank is zoned for horses and that is why people moved here in the first place. To have large apartment – like residential structures built there will only increase the congestion in Burbank. Think of the lack of city planning on Victory and Burbank Blvd. You cannot keep building just because you think it will bring more revenue to the city and/or make it seem more current. It’s this kind of ignorant myopic thinking that takes away the quality of life we all moved here for. We’re all sick of huge cities that promise nothing but more stress in our lives. We need places and services that serve the community that is already here.

      • This is happening all one Los Angeles. Garcetti had approved an additional 100,000 units and we are suffering immensely om the West side as well. I perform at the Viva and spend an hour Friday evening getting there; 19 miles.

    6. I’m not at all surprised. The Stavert’s have stubbornly refused to do any real effective updating to this establishment for decades upon decades out of stingy-ness… Severe penny pinching is an appropriate observation. Employees and patrons both (past and present) would very likely confirm this assessment. Outright indifference for even the most basic renovations (come on – you guys couldn’t even clean up those decrepit bathrooms??), and zero effort toward marketing/community outreach have been exactly what lead to the complete loss of community interest in this facility (particularly the ice rink and bowling alley)… they’re “surprised” that they are losing business?! PLEASE. It’s as if the total disregard for their own property betterment has been shamelessly deliberate, like they were expecting/hoping for this exact result eventuality so they could all ultimately retire rich at bare minimum operating cost in the process, and not have to worry about any kind community responsibility once that moment came to pass. Immediately upon that Pasadena Ice rink being built, they should have been way more proactive about taking a least a little more pride in their own establishment to, at the very least, save the last bit of loyal business they had left on that front. They’re about to do whatever makes them the most money (i.e. of course that would equate to housing in Southern California)- and technically it’s their right to do whatever the h*ll they want with their property… even if it is at the expense of long-standing patrons who grew up skating/bowling here; as one of those individuals I can affirm that they also, in effect, treat us with the same passive disrespect and disregard that they do their facility – which is why I say again, i’m none too surprised.

      • You are absolutely correct. The properties are in dismal shape, they have obviously had zero interest in maintaining them. It’s truly sad they have failed to invest in their properties and now want the city to essentially bail them out of their predicament. Phooey on them!!

    7. There is a huge shortage of housing in Burbank. Why must all these people who remember the “heyday” of Burbank dismiss any improvement to this city. Pickwick is gross and outdated. It’s their property and if they want to sell, then they should. The only other thing that there is a shortage of is proper office space for businesses to move into. Just drive up Olive or Alameda and tell me that there isn’t a need for serious updating of this city.

    8. The best course would likely be a private/public partnership, to benefit both the Staverts and the residents of the city of Burbank (and L.A.). It’s both in a perfect location and the timing is perfect, for example, to redevelop the site as the 2028 Olympic Village. Keep the entertaining amenities with an upgrade! After the Olympics you’ll have apartments or townhomes.

      • Interesting thinking, but the plan for LA Olympics 2028 is to use UCLA as the Olympic Vilage, to keep costs down. I also am concerned that hundreds of new apartments on Riverside would create gridlock in the Rancho area. There must be some better ideas or combinations of ideas.

    9. I would support a zoning change for single family residences. There is more than enough room there to do it; but town homes and apartment buildings? Hell No!! God help any city council member who votes to rezone to forward this project as is

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