The City of West Hollywood, which over the years has snapped up a number of pieces of local property, is asking the City Council to approve its acquisition of the lot across from City Hall that is occupied by Joey’s Café, Peter’s Magnolia Cleaners, and Crossroads Trading Company.
The City Council will be asked on Monday night to authorize the spending of $11,410,750 (plus closing costs) to purchase the 22,000-square-foot lot at 8301-8315 Santa Monica Blvd. The city already owns the adjacent Coast Playhouse at 83225 Santa Monica Blvd., which it bought in 2016 for $2.5 million. The only other property on that section of the north side of Santa Monica Boulevard between Sweetzer Avenue and Flores Street is Basix restaurant.
A memo to the Council from City Hall says the city has no current plans to use the property. “The existing commercial tenants on the property will remain for the foreseeable future, and any changes in use to the property are too speculative to analyze at this time,” says the memo from the city’s Facilities and Recreation Department and Finance and Technology Services. “Once the sale is complete, the city will conduct a study of best uses and feasibility for potential redevelopment and use of the property and gather public input regarding the same.”
The property is owned by Broudy Axelrood LLC, a company associated with Norma Broudy and the late Leonard Broudy. Given that it is the site of a dry cleaner, the soil is contaminated with the dry-cleaning solvent perchloroethylene. The memo says that contamination can be reduced to a less than significant level.
The City Council, in a closed session, last year considered making a bid for the property adjacent to City Hall that houses the Gelson’s grocery store. Gelson’s sold the 1.25-acre lot to Safco Capital Corporation. The grocery store intends to remain on the site.
The City of West Hollywood has a number of other properties that it has yet to decide how to use. In 2015, the city paid $7 million for the one-acre lot once occupied by Walgreens on the southwest corner of Santa Monica and Crescent Heights boulevard. It is still working on plans to construct a temporary parking lot on the property and has yet to begin the process of figuring out its eventual use.
The city still hasn’t found a tenant to occupy the first floor of the four-floor parking structure that it owns at 8383 Santa Monica Blvd. at Kings Road. Aaron Brothers, the framing retailer, last year moved out of the first-floor retail space that it had occupied for more than 20 years. A local realtor has a “for rent” sign on the retail space’s front window.
And the city still hasn’t developed a plan for the use of the 7,177-square-foot Laurel House, popularly known as “Tara,” that was donated to the city in 1997 by its owner, Elsie Weisman. After Weisman died in 2000, the city announced plans to convert the house, which is at 1343 N. Laurel Ave., into apartments and build other apartments on the property, all to house low-income senior citizens for whom there is a shortage of affordable housing. However, local residents protested that plan and the city this year hired a consultant to study possible uses of it.
Besides City Hall, the city’s other properties include the Werle Building, 7,533-square-foot, two-story office building at 626 N. Robertson Blvd. that was built in 1940. West Hollywood purchased the building in 1987 and in 2003 the city entered into agreements with various nonprofit organizations for the use of the property on a temporary basis. In late 2011, the City Council approved a plan to develop long-term relationships with tenants and to make necessary property improvements. Those non-profits include the Alcoholics Anonymous Recovery Center, the ONE Archives, part of the ONE National Gay & Lesbian Archives, and the June L. Mazer Lesbian Archives, which is dedicated to preserving and promoting lesbian and feminist history and culture.
The city also has contemplated making a bid for the property at 621 N. Robertson Blvd. just north of Melrose that is the location of the West Hollywood Lion’s Club. That building is a small log cabin that was erected in 1936 as a Boy Scouts of America clubhouse in celebration of BSA’s 26th anniversary. The building got a makeover decades later and eventually became a meeting place for recovering addicts. It is owned by the City of Beverly Hills.
The city also has effectively expanded City Hall by renting space in the Koontz Hardware building on Santa Monica Boulevard to house some employees such as Public Safety Director Kristin Cook, who has been separated from her staffers in City Hall in an effort to resolve a city employees union complaint about her alleged abusive behavior. The city has moved its arts staff from City Hall to the Werle Building on Robertson Boulevard.
The City Council will meet at 6:30 p.m. on Monday at the City Council Chambers, 625 N. San Vicente Blvd. south of Santa Monica. Parking is available for free in the adjacent five-story structure with a ticket validated at the Council meeting.