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With some concerns voiced, the Melrose Gathering Space, which has been long discussed within West Hollywood, was approved by the City Council on May 1. A previous version was met with pushbacks on the design from the community. This time around, however, public input was utilized to determine a “reimagining” of the design, according to urban design and architecture studio manager Ric Abramson.
The project dates back to 2014, when the City Council unanimously approved a plan to transSeveral public commenters representing neighboring businesses expressed potential concerns with the project.
“Building a park in front of a retail space – [my] one retail space in the retail street – [is] little bit hard to take for that one retail space,” said Ben Soleimani, who owns a luxury home design space adjacent to the gathering area. “That’s my home. That’s how people see me. That’s how we get clients. That’s how we get our bread. That’s how we survive.”
“Hopefully [the city] can engage us, [the business community], more on what we can do to be solution oriented … not only for that wonderful space out in front of the building, but for the backdrop that we’ve created,” said Jay Reynolds, the architect behind neighboring 8650 Melrose Ave.
Some residents, though, were supportive of the design.
“After all these years, we now have a design that provides a pretty space that really does serve everyone in the community, and it’s time to move forward on this project as recommended by staff,” resident Leslie Karliss said.
Approval was given with a stipulation put forth by Councilman John Heilman to continue to work with community members.
The 2014 plan included several other public spaces in West Hollywood’s Design District, including the northeastern corner of Beverly and Robertson boulevards and Robertson Boulevard north of Melrose Avenue. The gathering space on Melrose was designated as the first part of the plan. Community studies determined the area would best be used as a space for community meetings and relaxation. A new design was commissioned in September 2022, dubbed “Weaver’s Walk,” and was designed by landscape architect Pamela Burton & Company and artist Karon Davis. The approved concept will include large specimen oak trees, a strolling garden, pollinator-friendly landscaping, a water bottle refilling station, as well as a new public artwork courtesy of Davis titled “Before Picasso.”
“The city is investing in our highly trafficked areas to improve the overall residential and visitor experience by ensuring both our sidewalks, streets and infrastructure are up to date,” Mayor Pro Tempore John Erickson said. “The Melrose Gathering Space is a longtime commitment of the city to our community about further greening our city but also making it a beautiful area for all, residents and businesses alike, to enjoy.”
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