By Gavin J. Quinton
In 1929, local leaders put shovels to dirt in what was at the time little more than a landing field for adrenaline junkies and eccentric millionaires.
In just two years, however, that field would become the nation’s first multimillion dollar airport — a little Spanish-style terminal on the southeast side of the airfield, now called the Hollywood Burbank Airport.
Thursday, almost a century later, Glendale City Councilmembers were joined by dozens of regional and airport officials to repeat history. Following decades of planning and stalled attempts, The Hollywood Burbank airport has finally broken ground on its new 14-gate replacement passenger terminal.
“It’s been years, and now we are so excited, because voters actually chose this Hollywood-inspired design,” said City Councilwoman and Airport Authority Commissioner Paula Devine “It’s going to be safer because it’s away from the runway, and of course we still look forward to providing the familiar friendly experience people are used to.”
Dubbed a “new, safer, modern and more convenient passenger terminal at Hollywood Burbank Airport” by officials, project manager Jacobs Engineering estimates the 355,000 square foot construction will be completed by October 2026 and will cost a total of $1.25 billion over the next four years.
“From the friendly staff to the airlines, to the convenience, Hollywood Burbank Airport is the gem of this community,” said Felicia Williams, president of the Burbank-Glendale-Pasadena Airport Authority. “We have a great team of airport commissioners with backgrounds in finance, law, construction and public service, who are dedicated to moving this project forward on time and on budget.”
The terminal will be relocated from its original 232,000 square foot location to a new Northeast plot, resolving airport safety concerns that date back to the 1980s.
Following the completion of the project, Burbankers will say goodbye to the existing passenger terminal, which is set to be demolished by 2028, in its 99th year.
The new passenger terminal project is more than 40 years in the making. The current terminal opened in 1966, followed by the airport’s sale to the BGPAA from Lockheed, and by 1980 it no longer complied with federal safety standards because of its close proximity to the airport’s two runways.
Airport leaders had been searching for a solution ever since, but encountered resistance and later litigation from surrounding neighborhoods who feared its environmental impact. The community reached consensus in 2016, when voters authorized Measure B in a 70% vote, approving plans to build the new terminal.
“The safety of our passengers and employees is our priority. The design of the new facility includes added distance between airport runways and the terminal building. It also includes updates to meet current earthquake design and ADA accessibility standards,” the airport said in a statement.
The new terminal will also include a 45,900-square-foot aircraft parking area for boarding and deplaning, a new parking structure with EV charging, and a new access road to the airport, which will still intersect with Hollywood Way.
The BGPAA has set goals to reduce air emissions and improve environmental sustainability. The new terminal is designed to reduce the airport’s overall emissions and achieve a minimum of LEED Silver certification, a metric for measuring sustainability.
The project will also make use of union labor, a priority levied from Burbank and Glendale City Councils. The Building Trades Union Council also endorsed the project.
“Many Building Trades members live in these cities, and now they’ll have the chance to work on this project,” said a BTUC official at the groundbreaking event.
Residents from surrounding neighborhoods have voiced concerns that the new terminal will increase air traffic and noise to the area after flight paths were concentrated and changed to a single “waypoint,” or pattern, southwest toward Studio City in 2016.
Officials said that construction noise mitigation efforts will be put in place to reduce the impact of development to the surrounding neighborhood. As for overhead noise and emissions, local leaders are calling on the FAA to address the issue.
“Many folks don’t know that this is a regulation from the FAA. It’s not something the airport or the local jurisdictions can truly address, so we’re really going to need help from our federal partners to address that for our neighbors,” said Burbank Vice Mayor Nikki Perez.
The project has already secured a third of the necessary funding for the lofty $1.25 billion project, which will be sourced mostly from infrastructure bonds and federal grant funding. No state, county or local funds from Burbank, Glendale and Pasadena will be used to pay for the terminal project.
First published in the January 27 print issue of the Glendale News-Press.