Proposed Mixed-Use Project Would Replace Car Wash

Image courtesy Stuere A potential housing development would build nearly 50 condo units, as well as space for retail or restaurants, at the current site of the Lakeside Car Wash.

First published in the Dec. 4, 2021, print issue of the Burbank Leader.

Burbank officials are seeking community input regarding a development that would replace a decades-old car wash with 49 condo units and business space.

Located at 3700 Riverside Drive, the mixed-use project would feature a six-story building with a mezzanine, a partially open floor between two main levels. Four of the housing units would be priced for very-low income households. The building would include a community room and gym, according to city planning documents, and the ground floor would have space for retail or restaurants. The roughly 82,800-square-foot development would also feature subterranean parking and a small, publicly accessible park on the corner of Riverside and Screenland drives.

The Burbank Planning Board will hold a public meeting at 6 p.m. Dec. 13 to solicit comments from the public regarding the project and its draft environmental impact report. The report is available at burbankca.gov/web/community-development/3700rd; interested parties can submit comments to the city now through Jan. 12.

The draft EIR is a lengthy document detailing the proposed project’s potential impacts on the community. While the report noted that the additional housing units would likely have little impact on Burbank’s services, traffic and job market, it warned that the development would require the demolition of the Lakeside Car Wash building. That structure, according to the report, is likely eligible for designation as a historical resource because of its age and association with the post-World War II period.

City records show the property was vacant prior to 1946, when a gas station was built there, according to the EIR. Burbank issued the owner a permit in 1956 to construct a car wash, which remains to this day. The EIR lists the potential project applicant as 3700 W. Riverside Investments, LLC. The company’s CEO, Mike Balian, also leads Pasadena-based developer Toledo Homes. That business lists the Riverside property as a planned “Burbank Media Center.”

The developer did not provide the Leader with a comment regarding the project.

While the city would require the developer to build a display in the small park detailing the history of the Lakeside Car Wash, and move the wash’s longtime sign to the same location, the EIR pointed out that the demolition of the building itself would go against Burbank’s land use principles — specifically the components intended to protect historical resources.

“The demolition of the Lakeside Car Wash building, one of few remaining car wash facilities from the post-war era in the Burbank area, would contribute to a cumulative loss of historic resources in Burbank when past, current, and probable future projects are considered,” the EIR noted.

Los Angeles Conservancy, a nonprofit that advocates for the preservation of historic buildings, has indicated opposition to the car wash’s demolition.

Burbank must show California’s housing agency that it can accommodate its share of the regional housing goal, which between 2021 and 2029 is a projected 8,722 units, including 2,553 for very low-income households. The city listed the Riverside Drive proposal as one of several that could contribute toward addressing those requirements, highlighting the Media District as a promising location for future developments.

The developer agreed to provide four affordable housing units in return for receiving the city’s permission to build 13 additional units than the zone’s density limit would ordinarily allow, according to the EIR.

Information regarding how to join the Dec. 13 public input meeting will be available on the proposed project’s web page on Monday. The application is estimated to go before the Planning Board around the end of 2022’s first quarter.