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The construction of the controversial 22-story Sunset and Gordon apartments on Sunset Boulevard is complete, with some tenants having already moved in. However, a judge’s ruling in October invalidated the construction permits obtained by its developer, CIM Group, which has appealed the ruling, according to city officials.
The attorney for the mixed-use project’s opponents said on Wednesday that they will continue to pursue all “available legal remedies” to keep the ruling in place.
The court ruling determined that the construction permits improperly allowed CIM Group to demolish the 1924 façade that once housed the Old Spaghetti Factory, effectively placing the future of the 299-unit project, and its newly moved-in tenants, in limbo.
On Tuesday, Los Angeles Department of Building and Safety spokesman Luke Zamperini said CIM Group appealed the judgment and a stay is in place.
Rob Wilcox, spokesman for Los Angeles City Attorney Mike Feuer, confirmed on Tuesday that the city did not file an appeal.
Representatives from CIM Group would not comment on the ongoing litigation, but issued the following statement.
“CIM continues to provide our residents with a quality building and premier management,” the statement read.
The La Mirada Avenue Neighborhood Association filed the lawsuit in 2008, claiming that the city improperly granted project variances. CIM Group purchased the property after 2009 from Sunset & Gordon Investors for $21 million and purchased the Old Spaghetti Factory property in 2011.
In 2012, controversy arose over the sudden demolition of the façade. CIM was reportedly told by its architect that the façade was too deteriorated to be saved and opted to build a replica.
A corruption probe involving the Los Angeles County Assessor’s Office, also clouded the issue, in which the five parcels on the property were re-assessed at a reduced value.
In Oct. 2013, an associate zoning administrator ruled the department of building and safety violated the conditions of the project’s approval by issuing the demolition permits, noting the original project approval conditions mandated that the façade would be rehabilitated.
“I can say we’re not surprised that CIM continues to subvert the law,” said Robert P. Silverstein, an attorney representing the association, in light of the appeal. “The culture of secrecy and law-breaking between big developers and L.A. City Hall continues, but we are confident that trial court’s extremely thorough ruling will be affirmed.”
Silverstein added that his office personally served the city clerk’s office on Tuesday with a writ, and if the city “disregards” the trial court’s orders, his office will consider seeking a contempt order against “various city officials.”
“Nothing was ever disclosed by the landlord to the tenants,” Silverstein said. “They rushed to move tenants in. They basically used these innocent tenants as cannon fodder to try to interfere with the trial court entering judgment on CIM.”
The interior space behind the replica façade at Sunset and Gordon remains bare without any furnishings. One tenant, who identified himself as Alexander but refused to give his full name, said he moved in on Oct. 13, and wonders what his landlord will do to the dozens of unoccupied apartments. Alexander said he and his closest neighbors on the north side of Sunset and Gordon are trying to understand the legal situation playing out.
“They told us we’ll stay here no matter what the case,” he said. “They said there is no limbo.”
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