A handful of vocal WeHo-area residents attending a community meeting at the West Hollywood Library last night expressed their opposition to the “West Hollywood Cancer Center” project developers want to erect on the southwest corner of Beverly and Robertson boulevards.
“You are experiencing a development-weary town!” one man said loudly. He added how residents are not “going to just roll over” and let the project happen. “We’ve suffered,” said the man, who lives near the intersection of Rosewood and Sherbourne avenues. “You don’t know this neighborhood.”
The project, also named “8816 Beverly Blvd.,” involves five lots stretching from 8800 to 8806 Beverly Blvd. (aka 157 N. Robertson), 8816 Beverly Blvd. and 146 N. Clark Drive. The buildings currently onsite will be demolished and replaced with a medical building 10 stories high with a roof top restaurant. Four subterranean levels will contain a parking garage with 346 spaces. The former Eames showroom once occupied by Herman Miller will be preserved for its architectural and historical significance.
Beverly Denenberg, who has lived in WeHo with her husband since 2002, said, “Codes are being broken and we are not conforming to what the vision of the city was originally intended to be.”
Denenberg was one of about 35 people who showed up for the meeting. About 20 of them were area residents. The rest were affiliated with entities involved with the project or accompanying those who were, such as Rincon Consulting, WeHo-based real estate developer Faring, architectural design firm Office Untitled and the planning department of the City of West Hollywood.
The project is currently in a “scoping period” that began Aug. 1 and will continue through Sept. 3. During this time the public can comment, express concerns and ask questions.
Darren Embry of Faring, the developer of the project, explained that a plan for a hotel on the site was scrapped in favor a “mixed-use” building that would be “spread across points of access,” a reference to the fact that there will be multiple ways to enter the site. He said the project is intended to address the demand for cancer research, thereby providing a public service.
Perhaps the biggest point of contention had to do with the project being labeled a “cancer center” project. One woman called the cancer center concept “deceptive,” wondering
Traffic was a major concern raised by those at the meeting, an issue that Greg Martin, a senior planner with Rincon Consulting, said would be addressed in the required environmental impact report (EIR). One local resident said that traffic congestion in the area is bad now, but it will be even worse once the new Melrose Triangle project nearby is done. “Property values go up,” he said, “and the quality of life goes down.”
Martin approached one of the project renderings to show how cars will access the site via the alley stretching between Robertson Boulevard and Clarke Drive. The front of the building on Beverly Boulevard will have car share, auto, taxi,
One speaker who said he lives near the site said “a 10-story building is going to impact our neighborhood in terms of sunlight, views, noise….”
Martin acknowledged that current zoning for the location allows for only four stories and that Faring’s request for a variance so that it can build 10 stories could be rejected by the city.
Architect Ben Anderson of Office Untitled noted that the development will stand 35 feet back from the street and be “pushed toward the commercial corner,” meaning Beverly and Robertson. It will be 60 to 70 feet back from Clarke Drive, the “furthest away from the residential” side.
Residents also objected to the restaurant proposed for the roof of the building, noting the noise they have experienced late into night from the Catch rooftop restaurant at the corner of Melrose Avenue and San Vicente Boulevard .
Other questions raised were whether new office suites were needed on Robertson given the number of vacancies there. Those vacancies, however, involve retail spaces not offices. One speaker asked whether Faring was considering including affordable housing unit, which Martin said is not part of the plan.
The planning commission will review the project and vote on it sometime in March and then it likely will go before the City Council for its approval in April. The public is welcome to comment upon the project at the latter meeting, Martin said.
During the current scoping period continuing through Sept. 3 residents with concerns about the project can contact associate city planner Adrian Gallo at firstname.lastname@example.org or (323) 848-6304.