[dropcap]T[/dropcap]he city Planning Commission’s Design Review Subcommittee will evaluate next week the building proposed for the empty lot at 8550 Santa Monica Blvd. and West Knoll Drive that once was the location of the Athletic Club and Palms bar buildings.
The three-story, 42,193-square-foot structure will be adjacent to the building now housing 24-hour Fitness, Capitol Drugs, LASC and other smaller businesses. The developer, Michael Talla, who owns the entire block. plans to lease part of the combined retail and commercial space to Sprouts, a grocery store chain that offers organic and natural foods. Plans are for Sprouts to occupy 20,000- square feet of the space with 5,000-square-feet of storage. The project also includes a 8,000-square-foot fitness center/gym and a 1,100-square-foot café with outdoor dining. There also will be rooftop parking.
The project gets an overall positive review from Stephanie Reich, the city’s urban designer, who especially praised the plantings and greenery that are proposed. In a report to the Design Review Subcommittee, Reich says “while the building occupies a substantial portion of the lot, there is landscaping proposed at every opportunity. There is a planting border at the front façade to provide low planting and opportunity for green wall / green screen. ..
“The design is simple yet sophisticated and a great addition to the heart of West Hollywood’s Main Street,” Reich concludes.
At a neighborhood meeting in November, local residents praised the project overall, although some raised concerns about additional traffic in the busy area. While the parking deck currently above 24 Hour Fitness has 259 spaces, Talla proposes to add 157 more. There will continue to be only one entrance to the parking deck, where cars exiting sometimes have to wait because of foot traffic on the sidewalk.
Residents saw Talla’s proposed project as a major improvement on plans approved for the site in 2007 that called for a four-story, 44,000 retail-residential project. 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.
If the project is approved by the Design Review Subcommittee, it will go to the city Planning Commission for review and construction could begin as early as May or June 2014. A 15-month construction period is expected.
The Design Review Subcommittee will meet next Thursday at 5:30 p.m. at Plummer Park Community Center, Room 5, at 7377 Santa Monica Blvd. at Martel.