A revised design for a building including apartments and shops that would dominate the corner of Santa Monica Boulevard and West Knoll Drive goes before the city’s Design Review Subcommittee next week.
The five-story building, at 8555 Santa Monica Blvd., would cover three lots totaling 1.04 acres. It would face another large project to the south at 8550 Santa Monica Blvd. It would stretch from the eastern edge of the Ramada Inn to West Knoll, replacing the building that now houses the Collar & Leash pet store and its adjacent parking lot and a collection of small businesses including West Knoll Pharmacy, a restaurant, a shoe repair shop and skin care salons. It also would replace a single-family home on West Knoll. It is a project of Soto Capital LP, one of several companies owned by Behnam Soroudi, who also has extensive real estate interests through his Ruby Group, Harper Enterprises and other companies.
When the project was first reviewed by the Design Review Subcommittee in 2012, it included 40,168 square feet of commercial space, 102 residential units, 17,853 square feet of private open space and 318 parking spaces. The latest iteration is smaller, with 34,116 square feet of commercial space and 95 residential units with 19,033 square feet of private open space 264 parking spaces.
An assessment by Stephanie Reich, West Hollywood’s urban designer, notes several changes. For example, parking proposed for the second level has been removed, with residential parking access now limited to one entryway on West Knoll rather than the two originally proposed. Reich also says the new design reduces the visual impact of the building’s mass and scale.
“The project appears as several ‘trays’ for each floor, characterized by a white plaster edge, stepping back at the upper floors,” she notes. “The previous project appeared to have three breaks in the façade, and was designed up to the property line on the west shared with the Ramada. As proposed, there are two major breaks in the facade, each a substantial courtyard, with a 15-foot stepback from the western property line. … The building steps back at the fourth and fifth levels, as did the previous proposal, which also reduced the perceived building mass.
“The proposed project has an additional open space/courtyard in the center of the building, parallel to Santa Monica Boulevard. This will increase the light and air into the units and substantially improve the quality of life for the residents.
“The building configuration along West Knoll is also similar, but here too there have been revisions that help assist in breaking down the massing and improving the design in a way that responds to comments from the previous meeting. ”
The Design Review Subcommittee will review the project at its meeting at 5:30 p.m. next Thursday at the Plummer Park Community Center. If it approves the project, it will go the Planning Commission for review.
The Soroudi family is a major donor to the campaigns of West Hollywood City Council members, with four of its members donating $2,000 to the 2011 election campaigns of Lindsey Horvath, John Heilman and Abbe Land and $1,500 to John D’Amico. In the 2013 council race, they donated $2,500 to John Duran, enlisting a fifth family member, Rachel Soroudi, a student at USC’s Marshall School of Business, and $1,000 to Jeffrey Prang.