The West Hollywood City Council on Monday approved a $4.8 million budget increase to redevelop West Hollywood Park into a massive urban center by 2019. Now, the price tag for the project is approximately $94.9 million.
Plans call for sports facilities, a grand staircase, a rooftop terrace, a cafe, a dog park, adult fitness equipment, a recreation center, two swimming pools and other amenities.
The most significant impact to the cost estimates come from changes in the marketplace since the last estimate, according to the staff report.
The largest source of funding for the project will come from issuing long-term bonds. The financing staff recommended the city take $63.9 million in bonds to pay for approximately 67 percent of the total project. The second largest source of funding will come from the city’s General Fund reserves assigned to capital projects. The city has approximately $57 million in General Fund reserves for projects like the park, and the financing staff recommended using $27 million of it for the park. The city currently has approximately $108 million in total budget surplus.
Mayor Pro Tempore Lauren Meister opposed the additional costs and questioned the practicality of the redevelopment. In an effort to ease some spending, she suggested that the council vote to eliminate items such as the proposed grand staircase and move one of the recreation pools to Plummer Park. The city council members considered the amenities separately, but they were all approved.
“I don’t think we need to have a pool area that’s equal to Soho house or one of the hotels,” she said. “This is a park. It’s supposed to serve the residents. That’s the primary goal and I didn’t think those things are necessary.”
Construction is expected to start this July and will be complete by April 2019. The central open space, or the heart of the park, will be the final area constructed. Work there is scheduled to start in January 2019. Multiple phases will allow for ongoing use of the park while certain areas are under construction.
Staff will return to city council when the completed plans are ready for review. The architect firm for the structures in Phase II is LPA Inc.
Unrelated to the cost increase, West Hollywood is suing the architectural firm from the first phase of the project, Johnson Favaro, for professional negligence and negligent planning. City Attorney Mike Jenkins said there were certain aspects of the project that either had defects and had to be fixed, or couldn’t be fixed. They included issues with the parking garage such as ingress and egress, loss of parking spaces, failure to include a bridge, and problems with an elevator, the tennis courts and lighting and acoustics in the council chambers. Jenkins said the lawsuit seeks $5 million. Both parties are expected to enter mediation on March 22, and a trial will be scheduled for June if they do not settle.
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