A development project at the forefront of a citywide debate over land use received initial approval this week. The Los Angeles Planning and Land Use Management Committee on Tuesday voted to recommend the Palladium Residences project and deny appeals from AIDS Healthcare Foundation (AHF), as well as the group’s request to delay the decision. The proposed project to construct two residential towers in Hollywood will now go to the full city council for consideration, which could be as early as next week.
Developers for Crescent Heights real estate firm plan to construct two 30-story mixed-use buildings at approximately 350 feet with 731 market-rate residential units and 24,000 square feet of retail space on the parking lots around the music venue on Sunset Boulevard. Five percent of the units will be set aside for “workforce housing,” meaning residents who make 50-120 percent of the area’s median income. The developers estimate that rent for those units will be between $400-$1,000 per month.
PLUM Committee members applauded the project on Tuesday for adding residential stock during the city’s housing crisis.
“We need 100,000 units at all levels,” said Councilman Gil Cedillo, 1st District.
According to the developers, the project will create more than 4,000 construction jobs and approximately 460 permanent jobs. Construction will generate approximately $25 million in tax revenues, with more than $10 million in annual tax revenues once it opens.
The Palladium will remain open and operational while construction is completed around it.
AHF, whose world headquarters are located next to the Palladium in Hollywood appealed the Planning Commission’s approval of General Plan amendments and zone and height changes that are required for the project. The group claimed that approving General Plan amendments on a case-by-case basis violates the City Charter.
“[The project] will have significant negative impacts on AHF … and the greater Hollywood and Los Angeles communities,” AHF’s representative, Daniel Wright, said in a letter sent to the PLUM committee this week.
Planning commissioners in December commended the “beautiful” project and said it will be a great investment in the community.
AHF also claimed that the community redevelopment agency was excluded from the planning process. But Luciralia Ibarra, senior city planner, said that is false, and said the fact the agency did not submit objections is indicative of approval. She added that the General Plan amendments are appropriate and necessary to bring the entire project into one consistent zone, and that the approval does not violate the city charter.
“The city is acting within its rights,” she said. “The development would permit the surface parking lot to continue the evolution of Hollywood.”
Chris Robertson, planning director for Councilman Mitch O’Farrell, 13th District, said the councilman supports the project as well.
The PLUM Committee also recommended the full council approve O’Farrell’s motion to begin the process to designate the Palladium as a historic-cultural monument (HCM).
The Palladium is not currently listed on the National Register, California Register or designated as a Los Angeles HCM.
In exchange for the entitlements, valued by AHF at $50 million, Crescent Heights will not apply for construction permits until after the existing music venue is nominated for HCM status. The firm also will provide a Palladium Preservation and Enhancement Plan and a historic exhibit on site, details of which will be determined later. AHF believes that is not enough.
“That city officials would make such a poor bargain in relation to one of Hollywood’s most iconic venues was shocking,” said Michael Weinstein, president of AHF and founding member of the Coalition to Preserve L.A., a ballot initiative campaign seeking a moratorium on “mega” development throughout Los Angeles.
Last summer, AHF filed a HCM nomination for the music venue as well, months before O’Farrell submitted his nomination in November.
Citing “denial of due process of law,” AHF requested the hearing on Tuesday be delayed until after their nomination can be acted on. AHF believes the council “deliberately” delayed a hearing on their nomination until after the council acts on the proposed project.
“We firmly believe a denial of AHF’s hearing on its nomination prior to a city council vote would deny AHF its civil rights,” Weinstein said.
AHF said the Planning Commission should have conducted the initial hearing on whether or not to take up the nomination in December. Staff felt it was important to consider both nominations together to reconcile any differences, and then present one nomination initiated by two parties. He added that the delay in the nomination process will in no way alter the full review of the Palladium Residences. A single nomination will be considered on May 19.
AHF raised concerns that Crescent Heights is not required to preserve the Palladium music venue, just required to wait for the nomination of HCM status.
“We don’t have the guarantees we need,” said AHF appellant Miki Jackson.
“This project is about the preservation of the Palladium and the creation of housing in Los Angeles,” said Bruce Menin, principal at Crescent Heights. “This whole request is about preserving the Palladium where it is.” Crescent Heights agreed not to demolish the venue.
The developers stated as early as 2013 that the project would protect and enhance the Palladium. Ibarra said the Palladium structure has always been described in the project’s analysis as being preserved and maintained.
“The Palladium is under no threat of demolition,” said Heather Crossner, representative for Crescent Heights.
The Palladium is leased to Live Nation which will continue to operate the venue.
The firm said they look forward to working with the city on the final details of the Preservation and Enhancement Plan.
The Hollywood Chamber of Commerce, Hollywood Studio District Neighborhood Council and the Central Hollywood Neighborhood Council support the project. The design was determined by the city’s Office of Historic Resources and Historic Resources Group to be compatible with the Palladium.
“This is the type of project that we need,” said Hollywood Chamber of Commerce president and CEO, Leron Gubler. “This is where density should occur.”
Jamarah Harris, spokeswoman for the project, said developers hope to begin construction in early 2017.
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