The Melrose Triangle project, which has been ten years in the making, got the unanimous support tonight of the West Hollywood Planning Commission’s Design Review subcommittee.
The proposed development would consist of three buildings that would house offices, restaurants and shops and 76 residential units, 15 of which would be reserved for low- and moderate-income renters. It would sit at the western gateway to West Hollywood, facing Beverly Hills at Doheny Drive. The prominence of its site, a triangle of land bounded by Santa Monica Boulevard on the north, Melrose Avenue on the south and Almont Drive on the east, has brought the project under especially intense scrutiny.
Design Review subcommittee members were unanimous tonight in praising the evolution of the project’s design. “I was more than pleasantly surprised when I saw this iteration,” subcommittee member Roy Huebner said. “I think it is an amazing, exceptional design.”
The latest design plan, by the architectural firm Studio One Eleven, breaks the 303,000-square-foot project into three buildings. One, dubbed the “Gateway building,” would face both Santa Monica Boulevard and Melrose Avenue at the western tip of the triangle. Four stories high, it would be set back 20 feet from the street and have retail space on the first floor and three floors of offices above. It would face Beverly Hills with glass panels that would glow at night. “It becomes a beacon of entry into the city,” said Alan Pullman, founder of Studio One Eleven.
The “Boulevard building,” five stories high along Santa Monica Boulevard east toward Almont, would have a double row of trees and be set back about 30 feet from the street. Retail shops would be on the ground floor.
The “Avenue building,” a U-shaped structure, would face Almont and Melrose and a “paseo,” or walkway, through the project that would allow pedestrians to move from Santa Monica Boulevard to Melrose Avenue. Its first two stories would be designed to house showrooms and art galleries. Above would be 74 residential units. The overall development would have four levels of underground parking.
An earlier version of the Melrose Triangle project called for six underground levels that would have been used for parking and for more than 300 storage units for such things as art and wine. It also called for six stories above ground that would have included 195 apartments. That prompted opposition from area residents. Planning Commission John Altschul, who is on the Design Review subcommittee, expressed concern that the six underground levels would cause problems with the area’s relatively high water table. Other opposition was raised to the mass of the proposed building, an issue the architect addressed by breaking it up into three distinct buildings.
The project still must be approved by the Planning Commission and then the City Council
The Melrose Triangle development is a project of the Charles Company, a real estate development and leasing firm owned by Arman and Mark Gabay of Beverly Hills. Charles Company also owns Excel Property Management and has other wholly or partially owned affiliates such as Broadway Square LLC, System LLC, Sancam, Oppidan LLC.
Arman Gabay and his family members and his businesses have been major donors to several West Hollywood City Council members. They donated $2,000 to Councilmember John D’Amico, $500 to Mayor Abbe Land and $500 to Councilmember John Heilman in 2011. Excel Property Management donated $5,000 to a committee supporting the re-election of Councilmember John Duran in 2013.