International School Buys Pickwick Parcel

First published in the Sept. 10 print issue of the Burbank Leader.

The International School of Los Angeles, or LILA, announced on Wednesday the purchase of a 3.8-acre portion of the Pickwick property adjacent to the school’s campus.
The parcel — which includes the ice rink currently home to the L.A. Kings hockey team, the attached parking lot and a section of Pickwick Gardens — is the western half of the Pickwick property.
“A portion of the facilities located on the newly acquired Pickwick site is encumbered with rental income-generating leases including the ice-skating rink, which precludes the school from developing the newly acquired facilities for school usage in the foreseeable future,” the school stated in a statement.
LILA, which closed escrow on the neighboring parcel last week, has been in the Rancho community since opening its doors in 2012. The land purchase will increase the school’s footprint by 80%.
“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. “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.”
LILA has not solidified its future plans for the lot. The school has made clear its intentions to expand in the long term, potentially after existing leases expire, though it is unclear if the lot’s commercial zoning will get in the way of efforts.
“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,” said LILA Board Chair Taline Grigorian.
The eastern portion of the Pickwick lot is separate from LILA’s recent land purchase. That’s the current site of the Pickwick Bowl. A controversial project that would have replaced the Pickwick Bowl with nearly 100 condominium units was denied its SB 35 approval. SB 35 is a program that allows developers who intend to build low-income housing to receive an expidited approval from Califronia municipalities. The Burbank City Council did not issue accelerated approval to the developer of the Pickwick Bowl site on the basis of incompatible zoning after Rancho residents brought up concerns.
The city is currently undergoing litigation for multiple lawsuits related to the denial.
Both parcels are zoned for commercial recreation use.
Founded in 1978, LILA purchased the property for its current campus in the Rancho neighborhood of Burbank 10 years ago. Since joining the Rancho and wider Burbank community, the school has welcomed neighbors on campus for numerous community events, joined the Burbank Chamber of Commerce and sponsored local events such as the Griffith Park Run.
The school celebrated the acquisition. Grigorian said the milestone will “move [the] school towards its vision of becoming the premier international school in Los Angeles.”