An upscale Sprouts Market will be a tenant in the three-story building planned for the vacant lot at 8550 Santa Monica Blvd. at West Knoll Drive, adding a third supermarket to the west end of Santa Monica Boulevard.
About 35 people turned out for a neighborhood meeting Thursday night at which Sprouts, often described as a cross between Trader Joes and Whole Foods, was announced as the anchor tenant for the 42,000 square-foot building to be erected on the site that once housed the Athletic Club and Palms bar buildings, across from the Ramada Inn hotel. A Trader Joe’s sits almost across the street from the Sprouts location, and a Pavillion’s supermarket is on Santa Monica Boulevard a few blocks west.
Based in Phoenix, Sprouts is an 11-year-old grocery chain with 150 stores in the Southwestern United States. The closest Sprouts to West Hollywood are in Westwood, Culver City and Burbank. Sprouts describes itself as an organic and natural foods store.
In addition to Sprouts, the ground floor of the project will have a 1,100 square foot café with outdoor dining. The second level will have parking and two 2,000-square-foot offices, while the third level will have two fitness-oriented businesses, possibly a yoga studio, spin cycling studio or boxing studio. There will also be rooftop parking.
“The neighborhood is anchored by 24 Hour Fitness [gym],” said Todd Elliot, the attorney representing the project. “So we want to continue on that theme with businesses that promote health, fitness and well being.”
The project is being developed by Michael Talla, who owns the entire block. Talla plans to expand the existing parking deck in the block and connect it to the new building. That parking deck currently has 259 spaces, and 157 more spaces will be added via the expansion.
“From an urban design perspective, it’s magical [Talla] got the property,” said Santa Monica-based architect Aleks Istanbullu, who designed the project.
Overall, residents were pleased with the project, calling it a vast improvement on the previously announced four-story, 44,000 retail-residential project approved for the site in 2007. When the recession hit, Talla bought the property from owner Richard Killstock and opted to eliminate the proposed 20 luxury condominiums, thus making it entirely commercial.
Traffic was a major concern of residents who wondered how many extra cars a supermarket would attract to the area, which is gridlocked for much of the day. Instanbulla said Sprouts hoped people would go the gym and the supermarket on the same trip, thus reducing some of the extra traffic. Elliot said a traffic impact study is underway.
The only entrance to the parking deck will be the existing one. The ticket booth will be moved further into the structure to alleviate problems with cars queuing up to get into the structure. Sprouts will receive its deliveries at the back of the parking structure using 35-foot-long trucks because larger ones can’t get into the deck, Instabulla said.
Residents also expressed concerned about foot traffic in the area, noting that cars trying to get out of the parking deck often have long waits for the sidewalk traffic to clear enough for them to exit.
“The problem with traffic in that block is feet, not cars,” said resident Jonathan Sidy.
The project is expected to go before the city Planning Commission’s design review subcommittee early in 2014 and before the full Planning Commission shortly after that. If it gets approved, construction could begin as early as May or June 2014. A 15-month construction period is expected.