ITS CURRENT SUCCESS CANNOT BE DUPLICATED
We are at a tipping point and we must act now with haste before Magnolia Park turns into another Melrose Boulevard. These Mom and Pop shops are successful and have a fiercely loyal clientele that travel from all over the globe just to visit them in Magnolia Park. Not just brick and mortar retail stores, they also have robust online presences and hold events that bring people into Burbank. If they are forced out due to rent increases, the only businesses that will be able to afford these properties are either chain stores or service industries - types of establishments that do not create foot traffic or cater to people who want to spend the day shopping, dining, and exploring. This will create a domino effect that will cause detrimental change to the nature of Magnolia Park.
We have a history of antiques shops, thrift stores, local restaurants, specialty bookstores, clothing shops that are popular with folks who enjoy styles from retro couture to vintage sneakers, gift shops that feature handmade creations from local artisans, an emporium devoted to Halloween, and so much more - all owned by independent proprietors. It may seem that these are all disparate establishments. However, the people who shop in Magnolia Park are actually interested in more than one genre or subculture. While it makes sense the customers who go to Dark Delicacies will also stop by Halloween Town and Bearded Lady, they also discover treasures at Mindfulnest and Bell Cottage or vintage stylings from Besame Cosmetics and Playclothes. If a family goes to dinner at Pinocchio’s Monte Carlo Deli, they also wander into Blast from the Past to check out their treasures and maybe get dessert from Yummy Cupcakes or Rocket Fizz.
If doctors’ offices or chain stores replace these unique destinations, there is no reason for people to keep exploring the neighborhood. Why spend time walking down a street, worried about a your parking meter, to visit shops available on any other main street or mall where there is loads of free public parking?
Downtown Burbank, with its newly revitalized Burbank Town Center mall, is conveniently just a mile and a half away with a multitude of nationally recognized chain stores. The Empire Center has multiple big box stores that cater to Burbank residents. Magnolia Park is different: it is a charming desintation neighborhood of Mom and Pop shops and restaurants with an ecosystem that cannot be artificially duplicated. We must invest in the preservation of this historic local treasure.
The History of Magnolia Park
Excerpts below taken from the 2009 City of Burbank Citywide Historic Context Report.
Courtesy of the Magnolia Park Merchants Association.
Page 75: As Benmar Hills shaped the northwestern portion of the city, the Magnolia Park residential development transformed the southwestern part of Burbank. The development was essentially an independent community and appears to have received no financial support from the city. The developer of Magnolia Park was Earl L. White. White arrived in Burbank in 1915 and established a dairy farm at the intersection of Verdugo and Pioneer Avenues (renamed Hollywood Way by 1926) on 400 acres of land located near the southwestern part of city which had just been annexed into the city. The development was roughly bounded by Buena Vista Street to the east, Clybourn Avenue to the west, Chandler Boulevard to the north and Clark Avenue to the south. By 1917, White was formulating plans to create a residential and commercial development on his land. His decision to create an independent community in the southwest corner of the city was likely due to the area’s isolation from downtown Burbank for it was located approximately two miles southwest of downtown Burbank. White opened a southern entrance to his development by creating Barham Road, which connected with the Cahuenga Pass running south of Burbank, prior to opening up his subdivision.
Starting on March 4, 1923, Earl White offered for sale 300 lots near Magnolia and Pioneer Avenues. The largest lot offered by White was 320 acres; it appears that most of the land that was sold was later developed by the landowners or investors. At around this time an area south of the Magnolia Park development, roughly bounded by Clark Avenue to the north and Alameda Avenue to the south, was being subdivided for the construction of residences; it is likely that the east-west boundaries were similar to that of Magnolia Park.
Page 76: By December of 1923, White began construction of a two-story bank building at the corner of Magnolia and Pioneer Avenues; the building was to house a Los Angeles based bank. The bank building, Magnolia Service Station, Magnolia Garage (auto repair), a dry goods store, barber and beauty shops formed the basis of Magnolia Park’s commercial corridor. By 1926, the Magnolia Park Methodist Church was formed and their church building was constructed at the corner of Magnolia Avenue and Catalina Street; the building still stands. White established the first radio station (KELW) in Burbank on February 12, 1927.
Page 77: On November 19, 1927, concrete paving of 2.75 miles of Magnolia Avenue, from Magnolia Park through the east side of Burbank, was completed by the Gibbons & Reed Company. In that same year Earl White became president of the newly formed Magnolia National Bank and the Magnolia Park Mortgage Company, both of which were housed in the bank building located at Magnolia Avenue and Hollywood Way. By 1929, large areas of Magnolia Park had been developed and a newspaper, the Tribune, was created specifically for the development. The homes constructed in Magnolia Park consisted of a mixture of Spanish Colonial Revival and Tudor Revival, both of which were at their height of popularity; some homes were also constructed in the Craftsman style.
Page 80: Burbank was one of the few cities where a separate development, which was disconnected from its downtown core, was created. When Earl White started the Magnolia Park development in 1923, the area primarily contained farms and ranches. The area had been essentially left untouched by developers during the boom period of the late 1880s. The Magnolia Park residences were constructed at a time when the city’s population was increasing as a result of the industrial boom that began in late 1910s and early 1920s. The pattern of construction in Magnolia Park was somewhat scattered as the homes appear to have been built mostly by individual landowners and investors and not by the developer Earl White himself; this was also true for the areas to the south of Magnolia Park. The residences were modest in size and style and were situated on rectangular lots that averaged 50’ x 135’ in size. A number of the homes situated on lots that were near the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power’s transmission line right-of-way were set back toward the very rear of their respective lots.
Page 104: The late 1930s was a period of economic recovery for Burbank and the rest of southern California. The expansion of the Lockheed manufacturing plant and airport, and the growth of the local motion picture studios and various other industries in the city led to an accelerated growth in population. The Magnolia Park development was reactivated at that time with the construction of several single-family homes by Earl L. White on undeveloped lots located south of Magnolia Boulevard and west of Buena Vista Street.
Page 106: Rationing restrictions gradually lifted by 1944 and Earl White was able to construct 598 residences on 155 acres of land at Magnolia Park; the construction of the homes filled in many of the vacant lots of the original Magnolia Park development.