The Planning Commission will be asked Thursday to approve Melrose Triangle, a development on the city’s border with Beverly Hills that some are hailing as a western “gateway” for West Hollywood.
The development is proposed for the three-acre triangle of land bordered on the west by North Almont Drive and on the north and south by Santa Monica Boulevard and Melrose Avenue, which intersect at Doheny Drive facing Beverly Hills.
The commission will be asked by city planners Thursday to affirm that the project’s benefits outweigh two concerns:
— A significant increase in traffic at intersections along Doheny Drive with Elevado Street and Santa Monica and Beverly boulevards and at Santa Monica Boulevard and Foothill Road during the construction. The West Hollywood West Residents Association has also expressed concern about traffic being diverted during the projected 33-month construction period onto nearby residential streets such as nearby streets such as Rangely, Dorrington, Ashcroft and Rosewood.
— The demolition of the building at 9080 Santa Monica Blvd., now empty, which was constructed in 1928 in the “Streamline Moderne” style that became famous in the 1930s and 1940s. That building was renovated in 1938 by Wurdeman and Becket, an architectural firm known for its design of the Bullock’s Department Store building in Pasadena (1944) and the Pan-Pacific Auditorium in Los Angeles (built in 1935 and destroyed by fire in 1989). A report commissioned by the city from LSA Associates, an environmental impact consultant, recommends that the 9080 Santa Monica building be moved if it cannot be kept at the existing location. The other buildings on the site house small offices and shops such as hair salons, a computer repair shop and a Pilates studio along with a two-story parking garage on Almont.
The West Hollywood Preservation Alliance and a number of its members have expressed their opposition to the demolition of the 9080 Santa Monica Blvd. building as has the Art Deco Society of Los Angeles. The WHWRA also has expressed concerns about the project’s proximity to the Santa Monica Hollywood Fault, its potential impact on groundwater levels during construction and the impact of the project’s lighting on nearby residential areas
The project has been under development since 2004. The latest iteration of it, presented to the commission’s Design Review Subcommittee in February, drew praise from committee members, who had expressed concerns about the mass of the building previously proposed and about plans to build six levels of underground parking. Commissioner John Altschul was concerned that a parking garage that deep would have intruded on the city’s underground water table. The project as presented in February called for only four underground parking levels and for breaking up the development into three buildings with a wide public passageway connecting Santa Monica Boulevard with Melrose Avenue.
The 303,000 square foot project would house offices, restaurants and shops and 76 residential units, 15 of which would be reserved for low- and moderate-income renters. It would include 884 parking spaces, 94 more than are required by city codes.
Melrose Triangle is a project of the Charles Company, a real estate development and leasing firm owned by Arman and Mark Gabay of Beverly Hills. Charles Company also owns Excel Property Management and has other wholly or partially owned affiliates such as Broadway Square LLC, System LLC, Sancam, Oppidan LLC. The architect is Studio One Eleven.
If the Planning Commission approves the project, it goes to the West Hollywood City Council for final approval. The commission will hold the public hearing on the project at 6:30 p.m. at the City Council Chamber at 625 N. San Vicente Blvd., south of Santa Monica.
Arman Gabay and his family members and his businesses have been major donors to several West Hollywood City Council members. They donated $2,000 to Mayor John D’Amico and $500 to Councilmember Abbe Land and $500 to Councilmember John Heilman in 2011. Excel Property Management donated $5,000 to a committee supporting the re-election of Councilmember John Duran in 2013.
CORRECTION: An earlier version of this story said the Petco store is on the Melrose Triangle site. In fact it is not and the story has been corrected.