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City working to lure artful companies

Officials are worried the amount of red tape will force prospective businesses elsewhere.

September 10, 2010|By Melanie Hicken, melanie.hicken@latimes.com
(File photo )

CITY HALL — The notoriously lengthy process for opening a business in Glendale will need to be significantly shortened if the city hopes to attract creative arts and media companies to the drab San Fernando industrial corridor, officials said.

The City Council last year directed city officials to continue researching the possibility of designating a media and design district within the San Fernando Road corridor, which is already designated a redevelopment area, to encourage economic growth.

On Tuesday, City Council members voiced continued support for the "creative corridor" and voted to create assistance programs to help creative businesses wanting to move to the area.

Changes such as a fast-tracked entitlement process and a point person at City Hall could help keep companies from becoming "mired in this endless bureaucratic process," said Councilwoman Laura Friedman, who has advocated for the media arts corridor.

The district, officials said, could be anchored by media giants KABC7, the Walt Disney Co. and DreamWorks Animation, which are already within the development zone. Several hundred other creative-media businesses, including those for graphic design, home furnishings and textile companies, also already call the San Fernando corridor home.

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"We found there is a concentration of entertainment, creative industries," said Community Redevelopment & Housing Director Philip Lanzafame. "It is not so much a creation, but rather marketing to that cluster."

Hollywood and downtown Los Angeles are viewed as the most desirable locations for companies in the media and arts industries, officials said.

In a survey of real estate professionals and target businesses, the lengthy process was mentioned as the single biggest deterrent to pursuing Glendale locations, officials said.

"They suggested complex entitlement projects are not where the creative mind wanted to go," Friedman said.

Mayor Ara Najarian agreed that streamlining was needed, citing a television production company already located in the corridor that has spent more than two years trying to secure the necessary permits for a proposed expansion.

"What is more important than branding efforts is a liaison to shepherd these projects through," he said.

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