The West Hollywood Planning Commission is scheduled to consider a project at 8899 Beverly Blvd. this evening that would convert a 10-story office building into a residential and retail complex.
The project, which is proposed by Beverly Blvd. Associates, LP, calls for 56 condominiums to be built in the existing tower, along with eight affordable housing units. Additionally, plans call for 13 townhomes and four units of affordable housing to be constructed on an adjacent parking lot that borders Rosewood Avenue. Approximately 39,700 square feet of ground floor retail space would also be incorporated into the project, and plans call for Madeo restaurant, which is currently located in the building, to remain in the new location.
A consultant for the project who provided information on background said the building opened in 1962 and formerly served as a precursor to the Pacific Design Center, with interior design-related business and showrooms occupying the structure. It was later converted into an office building and is currently occupied by entertainment-related businesses that lease on a month-to-month basis. The current owners purchased the building in 2012, and issued a statement regarding the development plans.
“In addition to generating less traffic than the current office building by converting it to residences, 8899 Beverly will enhance the street-level retail frontage, upgrade the building to current structural standards, place the surface parking underground, and add single-family homes along Rosewood Avenue,” Tyler Siegel, one of the principals of Beverly Blvd. Associates, said in the statement. “By creating an array of housing opportunities, including much-needed affordable units, and de-intensifying the current use of the property, our project will be an energy-efficient and architecturally significant asset for the community.”
Planners for the city of West Hollywood are recommending that the planning commission deny its recommendation for the project because it does not conform with the city’s general plan, and would create impacts to the residents on Rosewood Avenue. The building was constructed more than two decades before West Hollywood became a city, but would not be allowed today under the city’s general plan because of its height. The planning staff decided to recommend that the project be denied because it would expand upon a building that already does not conform with the city’s regulations. The general plan calls for low-rise buildings in the area that are approximately three or four stories tall, according to Emily Stadnicki, a senior planner for the city.
“They are asking for an expansion of a building that is already out of compliance,” Stadnicki said. “The basic reason is it is an existing non-conforming building that is already much larger than what would be allowed on the site now.”
Siegel said in a statement that an alteration to the general plan was requested because of the improvements that the project would bring to the area.
“We are seeking a general plan amendment because the project creates numerous and extraordinary public benefits without creating any adverse impacts,” the statement read.
Donald DeLuccio, chair of the planning commission, said he is keeping an open mind about the project, but has concerns with the plans for buildings on the rear portion of the property. He said he could not remember a situation in which the commission recommended a project that had been opposed by city staff.
“I’m sure it has happened. It’s more likely that staff will recommend something and we won’t go for it,” DeLuccio said. “They are asking for a lot of things that they would have to do to make a project like that permissible. We are always open to seeing a building improved, and that building needs renovation.”
In addition to seeking a general plan amendment for the property, the developer is seeking a zoning change to allow for the construction on Rosewood Avenue. Seth Meier, who has lived on Rosewood Avenue since 2009, said he is concerned about the project’s impact.
“I live across the street from the project, and I do have concerns. I am trying to remain somewhat objective, but the general feeling is it’s a very big development for a building that is already non-conforming,” Meier said. “Townhomes would be completely non-compatible with the single-family homes in that neighborhood.”
He added that the developers have been working with neighbors, and city staff has been patient in listening to their complaints. However, he said he is concerned that granting an exemption for the project would set a precedent for other developers seeking zoning changes or exemptions to the general plan.
The planning commission has the option of recommending the project’s approval or denial, or it could request that the developer conduct more work with the community and bring the project back for reconsideration at a later date, DeLuccio said. The West Hollywood City Council would have the final decision on the project.
The planning commission is scheduled to meet at 6:30 p.m. today in the city council chambers at the West Hollywood Library, 625 N. San Vicente Blvd. For information, visit www.weho.org.
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