‘Inviting a casino to town’: Robertson Lane projects move forward under heavy scrutiny

City Council narrowly approved changes to two long-in-the-making projects — the Robertson Lane Hotel Project and the adjacent Treehouse Project — which have grown more and more unwieldy for the city even as they were merged into one Monday night. 

A litany of alterations to the project forced its developers to return before City Council, who found many problems with what they were presented this week.

The staff report listed the following alterations:

“The project proposes to amend an existing entitlement and approve a new adjacent commercial project as part of the overall Robertson Lane Specific Plan. Changes to the approved project include a change from one hotel building to a building with two volumes connected at the fourth level, a reduction of 114 hotel rooms (from 237 to 123), an addition of 34,869 square feet of office space, reconfiguration of other approved uses, a reduction of 224 parking spaces (from 750 to 526), and an overall reduction in the FAR (from 258,042 square feet to 239,128 square feet, including the Treehouse Project). The Treehouse Project consists of a two-story volume above grade with restaurant and outdoor dining uses, and two levels below grade that include a nightclub and associated storage space. The parking and loading for both portions of the project are located within the subterranean parking garage below the Robertson Lane Hotel Project component. The project parking is entirely valet operated with operations occurring in the B2 subterranean parking level as well as in the designated valet and rideshare spaces in the public rights-of-way. “

Chief among the points of contention was parking, or lack thereof. Councilmember John D’Amico, who with Mayor Lauren Meister voted no on the project, likened the situation to “inviting a casino to town.” 

Both feared that drivers would instead use city parking spaces instead of paying the developers’ higher prices. D’Amico also worried that excess heat and light reflected off the development’s glass facade would be troublesome for future visitors of the just-completed West Hollywood Park.

In an 11th-hour turn of events, the developer agreed to provide 100 spaces during evenings for employees at a reduced rate.

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About Brandon Garcia
Brandon Garcia is editor of WEHOville. He oversees the website's editorial direction and creates original content such as news reports, photo and video features, digital art work and advertisements. A native of the Rio Grande Valley in Texas, he now lives in WeHo and is a proud member of the LGBTQIA+ community. @brandoninthebubble on Instagram

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Io capisco!
Io capisco!
1 month ago

Actually, “Casino” comes from the Italian word for Casa-house. A casino can be a little house. In modern-day Italian, a casino is a brothel (also called casa chiusa, literally “closed house”), a mess (confusing situation), or a noisy environment; a gaming house is spelt casinò, with an accent.

We will now refer to him as John DeCasino for we know he is nobody’s amico (friend.)

WeHo Resident
WeHo Resident
1 month ago

What’s up with all the running water going into the sewer drain at the corner of Almont and Melrose? This is the Treehouse development. Is there well water being drained? Is it possible the water isn’t worth capturing and thus discarded? Seriously! Does anyone know? Lot of water running constantly.

Todd
Todd
1 month ago
Reply to  WeHo Resident

That’s the Melrose Triangle project – another long-delayed project that keeps morphing into something different than was promised the community. When it gestates for 20 years, economic conditions tend to change and “guessing” what will be “in demand” whenever it’s finished (10 more years?) is nearly impossible. That developer, like the one for Robertson Lane, don’t seem to have the financial backing to get their projects built. The ground water has been flowing at a prestigious rate into the sewer system for years. It would have been enough to water every square inch of landscaped land many times over. I’ve… Read more »

Underwater
Underwater
1 month ago
Reply to  Todd

Inappropriate comparison to Robertson Lane re financing. These two projects emanate from entirely different philosophies. Also years ago I believe the water situation appeared at NW corner of Melrose & San Vicente during library construction.

David
David
1 month ago

Wasn’t this the project that was supposed to retain some elements of the old Factory? Is this correct and is this still part of the plan?

Factory
Factory
1 month ago
Reply to  David

Yes they are incorporating approximately 55% of the Factory Building

Steven
Steven
1 month ago

The city council declared war on hotels that pay the occupancy tax that pays for city services, and now everyone is removing hotel rooms. I’m shocked.

Steve Martin
Steve Martin
1 month ago
Reply to  Steven

Actually Jake Stevens, the project’s spokesperson, made it clear that there was no market for the larger hotel. We are pushing the number of new hotel rooms close to a point where we will start to see an inundation that causes the room rates to fall and our TOT tax fall with it. That was in a report a few years back from a consultant hired by the City to look at this issue.

Stuart Foxx
Stuart Foxx
1 month ago
Reply to  Steven

Monocultures tend to die or destroy the land. Sometimes both.

Last edited 1 month ago by Stuart Foxx
John D’Amico
John D’Amico
1 month ago

In modern Italian, “casino” is a slang word for “mess”.

Steve Martin
Steve Martin
1 month ago
Reply to  John D’Amico

Couldn’t you just say “missagosh”?

Randy
Randy
1 month ago
Reply to  Steve Martin

Ha ha, Steve.

Stuart Foxx
Stuart Foxx
1 month ago
Reply to  Steve Martin

Mishegoss, Steve.

UCSBGRAD
UCSBGRAD
1 month ago

Can they just start building the damn thing. At this point I won’t live to see the completion and I am only 43.

Critical Thinking
Critical Thinking
1 month ago

Where was the critical thinking about much needed parking from Mayor Meister, the “parking expert” when possibly she and other Council Members were free handing their policies.

meister4weho
meister4weho
1 month ago

Excuse me Critical Thinking but I advocated for keeping the parking as is (700+ vs. 525). That’s why I voted no on the project. This is a Specific Plan and the City deserves more than it got.

Randy
Randy
1 month ago
Reply to  meister4weho

It certainly did, Lauren.

Todd
Todd
1 month ago
Reply to  meister4weho

I agree with Lauren. Once again – and this keeps happening again and again and again in West Hollywood – the promised developments that get the backing of the community inevitably morph into a bland mess (witness the mediocrity up on Sunset and the mixed-use projects on the City’s east side). How long will we have to wait for this, the Melrose Triangle and the French Market projects to be actually built?

:dpb
:dpb
1 month ago

Can only imagine the traffic and noise that this Goliath will add to already backed up Santa Monica Blvd. and my neighbor. This entire project appears to be a disjointed disaster.

JF1
JF1
1 month ago

Finally. Get. It. Built.

Jason
Jason
1 month ago

“Both feared that drivers would instead use city parking spaces instead of paying the developers’ higher prices.”

Oh, now they are worried about parking spaces? That’s rich considering they had no problem voting to allow the OutZones to take away street parking permanently or spend the tens of millions on the park expansion without adding a single parking space.

JF1
JF1
1 month ago
Reply to  Jason

I know…right?! The stupidity of it all.

Wing Nut
Wing Nut
1 month ago
Reply to  Jason

Leave to a qualified “Wing Nut” to make this determination as “A Casino” . Apparently the talents of Project Manager are arbitrary dependent upon the occasion or political connection.

Randy
Randy
1 month ago
Reply to  Jason

Parking spaces lost to Outzones was negligible. What, 2 or 3 spaces per Outzone? To help a local business survive? Most of these were bars, and I would hope people weren’t driving to them, anyways, and being responsible with not drinking and driving. I’m a huge scooter advocate, and I’ll use one to go out to the bars, then Uber home. I never have to worry about parking. Driving, I do not even consider an option.

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