W. Alan Schwarz in Burbank

W. Alan Schwarz, 79 of Burbank, outside his apartment on the 100 block of Avon, in Burbank on Thursday, Sept. 5, 2013. Schwarz and other residents of the present apartments may have to move out if a Whole Foods and residential project is approved by the city. (Raul Roa / Staff Photographer / September 4, 2013)

Burbank resident Allison Riccardi would love to find a bigger place to live.

Her 17-year-old daughter sleeps on a mattress in the dining room behind a black sheet pinned to the ceiling, while her 2-year-old son shares a room with her and her husband in their one-bedroom apartment.

But right now, her family can’t afford to move. Soon, though, she might have to.

Riccardi is one of the dozens of tenants who live in the nearly 40 apartments on Avon Street and Olive Avenue, where a 241-unit luxury residential complex, along with a Whole Foods Market, has been proposed.

If the project gets the green light, all existing buildings on the 3.8-acre lot will be demolished.

“We literally live week to week and still barely make it,” Riccardi, 43, said Wednesday, as her son Bradley waddled around her living room carrying a bright yellow stuffed cat. Riccardi’s husband works in construction, but if she worked, she’d only make enough to cover the cost of day care.

“So going to another place, it would really be hard for us,” she said.

She’s not the only one.

For Miura Green, 40, the location — less than a mile from Providence Saint Joseph Medical Center — is crucial. Green, who suffers with fibromyalgia and lupus, often makes three or more doctor visits a week. Since Green’s boyfriend was laid off two years ago, the pair has lived off his unemployment benefits — which have expired — and her disability income.

“It’s very scary to think you’d have to reconfigure your entire life because they’re going to tear down what you consider now your home,” said Green, who has lived in her apartment for three years.

While any sort of tenant relocation is at least nine months away, Michael Cusumano of the Cusumano Real Estate Group, which has proposed the project, said he expects to work with existing tenants to move them to other properties owned and managed by the company.

“We’re uniquely qualified to be able to work with these people to find them alternative places to live,” he said. “We own and manage a broad variety of housing opportunities in a wide range of prices.”

For some tenants, the prospect of splitting up from their neighbors, who over time have grown to become like family, was overwhelming.

“They call me grandma,” said 89-year-old Musseta Snow, who has lived in the complex for 43 years. Since her husband died in 1996, she’s lived alone. “I’m hoping it doesn’t work out and I’ll still be able to stay here.”

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Follow Alene Tchekmedyian on Google+ and on Twitter: @atchek.

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