The West Hollywood City Council on Monday certified an environmental impact report (EIR) for the Melrose Triangle Project, but stopped short of granting full approval for the project at the corner of Santa Monica Boulevard, Melrose Avenue and Doheny Drive.
The council requested that city staff and the developer work on ways to reduce the impact the new project would have on traffic in the area. The nearby intersections and streets are already heavily congested, as was outlined in the EIR. Members of the council hope measures can be identified to mitigate congestion, and have tentatively scheduled the project to come back before the council on Oct. 6.
West Hollywood Mayor John D’Amico said the certification of the EIR is a step toward final approval, but more examination is necessary. He said he is uncertain whether anything can be done to reduce traffic congestion, but it is worth an examination.
“We hope to have, by the first meeting in October, a much clearer set of alternatives,” D’Amico said. “Personally, I think none of us on the council were happy with the recommendations from staff in terms of the effects of the impacts on traffic. [According to the EIR] basically no matter what remedies we try, it wouldn’t necessarily make them better. But there are other things we can do. We need to add those in, and once we do that, we will have a full plate of remedies for fixing the traffic impacts.”
D’Amico said he expects the city staff and the developer to examine ways to limit pass-though traffic, commercial parking needs and other factors that may improve traffic circulation in the area. The council also directed the developer and staff to address parking and the project’s compatibility with the existing streetscape elements in the area.
“As a commuter and a resident who drives and sees the effect traffic has, it is really important to look at how to manage traffic,” he said. “I think a big project like this does have an impact.”
The Melrose Triangle Project is proposed by the Charles Company, and would serve as a gateway to the city’s westside. It would be located on a 2.7-acre triangular parcel of land at 9040-9098 Melrose Ave. and 601-633 Almont Drive. The project would replace multiple existing buildings and with a five-story, mixed-use project. Plans calls for 76 apartments, with 16 affordable housing units and retail, office, restaurant, gallery and design showroom space. It would also have 884 parking spaces located in a four-level subterranean garage, according to information provided by the city.
Jeff Seymour, a consultant for the developer, said the certification of the EIR on Monday was a positive step forward for the project, which has been in the works for more than decade. He said the developer is committed to working with the city to mitigate traffic impacts and any other impacts that may arise.
“It gives the city and us some time to talk about some of the needs in the neighborhood in regards to traffic circulation,” Seymour said. “We are more than willing to do that.”
The council’s decision on Monday essentially signals a final blow to an effort to preserve a two-story building at the site that was built in 1928 and designed by the architectural firm, Wurdeman & Becket. The building, which once housed a veterinary hospital, is now vacant. Preservationists contended that is an important example of the architecture firm’s early work, and the streamline moderne-style of architecture common during the period it was constructed. If the council gives final approval in October, the building would be demolished. However, Seymour said some of the streamline moderne elements of the building would be preserved at the entrance to office space in the new project.
D’Amico said it is appropriate for elements of the existing streamline moderne building to be incorporated, although he does not believe the building is significant enough to prevent the new project from going forward. He added that he generally supports the Melrose Triangle Project.
“We have to address the cumulative impacts. However, the benefits far outweigh the impacts in my mind,” D’Amico said. “We are taking a step forward in identifying the western gateway on Santa Monica Boulevard.”
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