West Hollywood planners have raised concerns about a proposed mega-complex on Santa Monica Boulevard at San Vicente.
In a memo on the project that will be presented to the City Council on Monday, the Community Development Department says possible issues with the project include:
- Its impact on traffic flow,
- The size of its proposed buildings, which would include more than one million square feet of space for a hotel, apartments, offices, stores, a movie theatre and an open-air amphitheatre.
- Its lack of any pedestrian walkways,
- The possibility that it would, by its size, overwhelm the small nearby businesses catering in the gay community in the area known as Boystown, and
- The possibility that it might inhibit the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) from ever installing a rail station on the property or running a rail line from Santa Monica Boulevard south to Cedars-Sinai Medical Center.
Last year Cohen Brothers Realty Corp. of California signed an agreement with the MTA and with Los Angeles County that gave it the exclusive right for two years (with a possible 12-month extension) to negotiate deals to build the massive complex. Most of land where the project would be built currently is occupied by an MTA bus maintenance and operation facility, with the remainder housing the West Hollywood Station of the LA County Sheriff’s Department. Cohen Bros. owns the Pacific Design Center adjacent to the MTA facility.
As conceived, the project would include two high-rise towers and an 800-seat open air amphitheatre. All in all, the project would have 600,000 square feet of residential/hotel space, 400,000 square feet of office space 120,000 square feet of retail shops, a 2,500-seat movie theater complex, the amphitheatre and parking for 3,000 cars. It would be built on 10.4 acres — equivalent to ten football fields — on the southeast corner Santa Monica and San Vicente boulevards.
It also proposes building an underground facility for the MTA buses, an expanded West Hollywood Sheriff’s Station and potentially a 50,000- to 70,000-square foot replacement for the current West Hollywood City Hall.
If approved by the MTA board and the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors, the project would go before the West Hollywood Planning Commission and eventually the City Council for approval of various exceptions it would require to current zoning and planning requirements.
The city hasn’t taken a formal position on the proposed development. However the memo notes that the city’s General Plan has identified the property as in need of redevelopment that would include residential and commercial buildings.
It also raises about what Cohen Bros. might have to do to make the project financially feasible, noting that it would cost more than $200 million to move the bus facility to another location while the construction takes place. That facility now provides parking for 250 buses and 275 employee cars and has 18 maintenance bays, storage areas and facilities for tire repair, bus washing, and refueling.
Because of the cost, the memo says, the developer may seek to expand the size of the project, “increasing the height and density beyond either the community’s threshold for height, the roadway’s capacity to accommodate the related additional traffic, or both” to make it financially feasible.