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In a victory for the little guy, the La Brea Willoughby Coalition has succeeded in forcing a developer to change plans for the redevelopment of the former KCOP studios, located at the corner of La Brea and Willoughby Avenues.
The La Brea Willoughby Coalition has dropped a lawsuit filed in 2009 against the property owner, Bomel Companies, which sought to limit the height and density of the project. The developer had originally received approval for a project that would have been eight-stories tall, or 81-feet, and would have included 219 residential units and 35,000 square feet of retail space. Lucille Saunders, president of the La Brea Willoughby Coalition, said the settlement includes a stipulation that the project will only be 48-feet tall on the segment facing La Brea Avenue, and 35-feet tall on a portion of the property between an alley that runs behind the former studios and residences on Formosa Avenue. Numerous calls to Bomel were not returned, so it is unclear exactly how many levels and how many housing units will now be included.
Saunders said the project’s original design would have been out of character with the two-story height of buildings and houses located in the area, and it would have brought 1,000 additional cars each day on to Willoughby Avenue. She said the residents’ group was not opposed to a development at the site, only the scale of the project.
“We never said ‘no project’, we just wanted a lower project,” Saunders said. “Another part of the problem was its impact on the street. We were very concerned about the infrastructure. Willoughby is already clogged.”
The original project was approved in 2009, when former City Councilmember Jack Weiss represented the area. Los Angeles City Councilmember Paul Koretz, 5th District, who currently represents the neighborhood, said his office worked with both the residents and the developer to reach a compromise.
“We were hoping it would be a smaller project, and at the end of the day, that’s what the developer and the residents agreed upon,” Koretz said. “We didn’t want something that was out of scale for the community. It appears to be a win-win for everyone.”
The former KCOP studios have largely been vacant since 2003, when the network moved to the Fox Television Center in West Los Angeles. The building was used in 2005 and 2006 for the reality show “Hell’s Kitchen”. In 2007, transients began living in the vacant building until they were forcibly removed by police. Bomel then sealed all the entrances to the building and put up fencing that prevented the transients from entering. Paul Lerner, co-founder of the Melrose Action Neighborhood Watch and the public safety chair for the Mid City West Community Council, said he was not aware of any other problems occurring at the site after the transients were cleared out, and added that it is encouraging that a settlement was reached.
“It sounds like a good compromise to me. It would be great to see something happen at that site,” Lerner added. “It’s been a derelict building for years and it’s an eyesore. We would like to see something go there.”
Koretz said although the previous project had been approved, the new design will have to get approval from the city council at a future date to be determined.
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