A preliminary version of a report on a controversial proposed redevelopment of the 8899 Beverly Blvd. building finds no significant or long term negative impact on the environment from the project.
The environmental impact report does predict an increase in morning rush hour traffic congestion at the intersection of Beverly and Robertson boulevards during construction and in noise while the project is being built. But it says that conversion of much of the building’s commercial space to residential space will mean an overall reduction in rush hour traffic after it is completed.
The report, prepared by EcoTierra Consulting Inc. of Westlake Village, was commissioned by Beverly Blvd. LP, a partnership of Beverly Hills developer Tyler Siegel’s Townscape Partners and Angelo Gordon & Co., a New York City investment fund. Beverly Blvd. LP bought the building for $38.5 million last year
The project prompted complaints last spring from nearby residents who said it would dramatically alter the character of the residential neighborhood that lays behind the building along Rosewood Avenue. Residents also objected at an August meeting that the project would create noise, dust and more traffic.
The developers propose to expand by 53,401 square feet the existing 10-story commercial building, known by many as the ICM Building because it once was home to that talent agency. That will allow it to accommodate 56 condominiums and eight apartments that would be rented to low- and moderate-income people. The rest of the building will be used for offices and shops and the restaurant Madeo, which currently is located in the building.
They also propose to construct four two-unit and one three-unit townhouse buildings and a four-unit apartment building on what now is a parking lot fronting Rosewood Avenue. The plan also calls for a two-story pool house with an indoor swimming pool, fitness area, lockers, sauna, steam room and restroom that would be available to all but the low- and moderate-income tenants.
The West Hollywood West Residents Association has objected to the project, with members raising concerns that the affordable housing will bring crime and will lower property values (homes there typically fetch prices in the high six figures, sometimes more than $1 million). The group also has said that construction will create noise and health problems and that the project will remove the strip of green lawn that buffers the existing ICM building from their homes on Rosewood. WHWRA argues that the city will set a bad precedent if it changes the zoning to accommodate the development. As proposed, the development would require that the city grant a special exception to existing zoning rules, which don’t permit what Beverly Blvd. LP is proposing.
The project got a generally positive response at a June meeting of the Design Review Subcommittee of the city’s Planning Commission, although there were objections to the prominence of the single-car garages proposed for the townhouses on Rosewood.
The report contains an evaluation of a number of possible issues, including the project’s aesthetic impact, its effect on air quality, the land on which it sits, traffic and noise that might affect residents nearby. It is extensive, running to 587 pages, not including various attachments.
The report, noting that an environmental impact report is required to consider alternatives to a proposed project, suggested one that would result in less of an impact without significantly affecting the project. That alternative would alter the construction on Rosewood by reducing the proposed number of townhouse units from 13 to 12, eliminating the proposed low- or moderate-income units and eliminating the pool house building.
The project eventually will come before the West Hollywood City Council, which must decide whether to grant a special exception to the zoning rules to permit its construction. Beverly Blvd. LP has begun promoting it, recently mailing a flyer touting its advantages to West Hollywood residents. Beverly Blvd. also has hired lobbyist Jeffrey Haber of Paul Hastings, the law firm, to represent the project. Hastings lobbies the West Hollywood City Council for a number of major business interests.
Townscape Partners also was a major donor to incumbents in the March City Council election. Townscape donated $1,500 to a committee formed to fight a proposal to establish term limits for council members that was opposed by all but Councilmember John D’Amico. Townscape’s Tyler Siegel made the maximum individual donation of $500 to the campaign of incumbent John Duran, as did his mother, Georgianne Siegel of Dallas. Siegel’s business partner, John Irwin, donated $500 to Duran and incumbent Jeffrey Prang.
Residents have 45 days from Dec. 20 to comment on the report. It is available for review at West Hollywood City Hall, which is located at the southwest intersection of Santa Monica Boulevard and Sweetzer, and at the West Hollywood Public Library, 625 N. San Vicente Blvd. south of Santa Monica. A copy of it also can be found online.
Comments must be submitted in writing to Emily Stadnicki, the city’s senior planner, at this address: Attn: Emily Stadnicki, Senior Planner City of West Hollywood, Community Development Department, 8300 Santa Monica Blvd., West Hollywood, CA 90069.