Revised Design for WeHo’s Proposed 8555 Santa Monica Blvd. Project

An illustration of the south-facing facade of 8555 Santa Monica Blvd.
An illustration of the south-facing facade of 8555 Santa Monica Blvd. (Kappa Associates)

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.

An illustration of the West Knoll facade of 8555 Santa Monica Blvd. (Kappa Associates
An illustration of the West Knoll facade of 8555 Santa Monica Blvd. (Kappa Associates
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jonathan
jonathan
7 years ago

JJ Thank you for your comments. You miss my points I like living in the city. I do not live in NY and Weho should not become NY. Why does one city have to become like another why can’t we be unique like we were and still allow for new development even projects this big ? Again Im not against it. Why can’t development here be truly different than anywhere else ? My ADA concern is about other ill planned areas of the city where the sidewalk has dwindled to 5-10′ wide because of revenue generating patios leased by the… Read more »

Rudolf Martin
Rudolf Martin
7 years ago

The way things are going I wouldn’t be too concerned about any ‘hipsters’ moving into WeHo. With all the sterile and generic new developments attracting more chain stores, we are much more prone to see an influx of civil servants, real estate agents and insurance adjusters.

Jonathan for City Council!

SaveWeho
SaveWeho
7 years ago

I think what most people are getting at is we entice more and more people to move into our city with these new projects, but City Council does nothing to improve parking for all these added individuals. It’s clear we need more parking. And I’m fine with tearing down this building or eve the Car Wash as one person claimed above in place of a parking structure. But if that structure is gonna cost $20 to park it useless. No one is going to pay that until its a last resort. So you have people wanting to visit our city,… Read more »

Alison
Alison
7 years ago

Whatever gave you the impression we are the most creative city in the world? You bought into the City’s marketing.

This building is much more pleasant to look at than the two new behemoths on La Brea. This is just one building. We on the east side and getting slammed with 4 or 5 massive developments.

This isn’t bad at all. I would take this over any of the ones going up on the east side.

Lynn
Lynn
7 years ago

Fast moving positive revenue streams often obscure tipping points. Sensitive alignment and coordination is what far sighted folks are advocating. Unfortunately many if the decision makers are easily charmed by bright and shiny new projects that quickly designed without resonance to quickly update the community w trendy architecture. Surely these creations pass plan check, that us not the issue. With this new project we have brigh apple green planes complimenting bright apple green trees sprouting like decorative objects. It all looks great on paper to the relatively uneducated or evolved eye. What folks fail to see is how easily and… Read more »

jonathan
jonathan
7 years ago

This should not be about NO DEVELOPMENT but it should be about WELL DRAWN AND WELL PLANNED DEVELOPMENT ! It will be a clean slate to work from so there should be very few questions if the architects and builders that build them think. How are double and triple tandem parking spaces in a new building a good thing ? Why is the traffic flow in the garage blocked by added spaces ? Why are spaces added at the back of single and tandem spaces blocking other cars ? Why is taking away a whole level of parking a good… Read more »

JJ
JJ
7 years ago
Reply to  jonathan

@ Jonathan – NO development can be built without passing through plan check and building and safety. All ADA requirements must be met or the project would not get approved. I don’t know how you know the parking layout will be on the interior of the building – have you seen the plans? This building is well designed and goes above and beyond what is required by the City in an effort to appeal to more people. As far as privacy – you love in a city. In New York you can look across the street and see into other… Read more »

JJ
JJ
7 years ago
Reply to  jonathan

Jonathan – and while you’re raging against this City (like so many do every time the word development comes up), let me remind you that this City was one of the few that remained in the black during one of the worst economic downturns and that’s because we have a good revenue stream thanks in part to all the good, smart development in our City. And that revenue pays for all the services the City offers its residents. They’ve done an outstanding job of taking an unincorporated area of Los Angeles and within 25 years turning it into a world… Read more »

JJ
JJ
7 years ago
Reply to  jonathan

@ Jonathan – please pass the link to the plans. I’d love to review the
rhem.

Scott
7 years ago

Good development is positive to any city. This building looks great and it will be replacing a really bad existing structure. The solution to high traffic IS NOT to stop development, but investing in better public transportation, subways, etc.
Not to mention that there are many other projects in WeHo that are much larger than this and already approved by the city.
That being said, I am in favor of this and other developments in our city. It will bring better residences, businesses and will make our community even prettier.

JJ
JJ
7 years ago
Reply to  Scott

@ Scott…to support your statement that good development is positive to any city, here is a quote from a recent Wehoville news article..
“West Hollywood City Manager Paul Arevalo is proposing a budget for the upcoming fiscal year that projects increases in revenue associated with new commercial and residential development in the city and continued growth in its hotel business.”

JJ
JJ
7 years ago

@ Lester: right on!

Lester
Lester
7 years ago

I couldn’t disagree more with the majority of commentators. I think this building looks great from both an aesthetics and massing level. A huge improvement over what is there now. Why doe people treat West Hollywood as if it were an obstacle that one has to traverse on their way to something else? Is there no such things as a destination, place or community in Los Angeles County? Everybody just treats this city as 45mph speed bump on their way to something else. I love that my neighborhood and city are becoming more and more walkable, and if traffic is… Read more »

Manny
Manny
7 years ago

@JJ…I don’t think most people object to replacing eyesores, dilapidated or unused properties. But what replaces them must be appropriate, well designed and an enhancement to the area. In some people’s eyes some new projects might not show that promise.

Yes it seems like many people complain about new developments. What they are really getting at is that sometimes new developments aren’t as good as they can and should be.

JJ
JJ
7 years ago
Reply to  Manny

@ Manny. I agree, there are a few that might be opposing along those lines but I believe the majority are not given the typical type of comments made and the frequency in which they are made. I studied architecture and interior design and this design does not deserve some of the comments thrown at it (which are pretty much cut and pasted from any other article about a WEHO development project over the course of the last ten years).

JJ
JJ
7 years ago

Erik & Mel…I couldn’t agree more! People, we live in a city! I don’t think New Yorkers bitch and moan like the same bunch that always cries over every single new project here in West Hollywood. I’ve been a homeowner in this city for past 15 years and I couldn’t be more excited to see this coming, the new development across the street from it (which was the old, closed-for-10 years-gym) and the Melrose Triangle Project (our west gateway is currently an empty parking lot on one corner and a building that’s been empty for 15-20 years on the other).… Read more »

John McCormick
John McCormick
7 years ago

Oh good…more construction on SMB, but they still can’t build pedestrian bridges to keep all these “walking” people they talk about safe and traffic moving. Also, I was told that “fast food” isn’t allowed in West Hollywood…so much for that McDonalds at Koo Koo Roo, which would be brilliant, since at $5000 a month rent in the new apts, who can afford to eat! Guess the Burrito Box got in on the DL….

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