5 Projects That Are Transforming La Brea Avenue in West Hollywood

La Brea Avenue in West Hollywood is undergoing a transformation. Abuzz with construction, five projects are happening within a five-block stretch of La Brea between Fountain Avenue and Willoughby Avenue.

When all five projects are completed, they will add 582 residential units and 84,400 square feet of retail space to the area, plus countless numbers of cars to the already perpetually congested street. In fact, West Hollywood Patch readers in May voted the La Brea-Santa Monica Boulevard intersection the “worst intersection” in town.

Here’s a rundown of the five projects – four will be new buildings and the other a refurbishment of an existing building (with a smaller new building being added).


La Brea/Fountain


The old Jon’s supermarket, a longtime favorite of the Russian community living on West Hollywood’s eastside, closed its doors in May 2011 with demolition of the building following shortly thereafter.

The Monarch Group is building a six-story, mixed-use project with 18,000 square feet of retail space and 187 apartments, 38 of which are affordable units. According to Jeffrey Seymour, a spokesperson for the project, the estimated completion date is December 2013.

Seymour reports that the two-level underground parking is completed and construction crew members are now parking inside the structure, something that has come as a relief to residents competing for parking on nearby streets.

No retail tenants have been announced yet.


La Brea/Lexington


Courtyard at La Brea

Immediately north of the McDonalds and just a few doors south of Lexington Avenue, the West Hollywood Community Housing Corporation (WHCHC) is constructing the Courtyard at La Brea, a five-story 32-unit building of affordable housing. Each unit is one-bedroom and will be approximately 600 square-feet, reports Robin Conerly, the executive director of the Housing Corp.

The site previously housed the Discover Green showroom (specialized in flooring) in a single-story building that was demolished. The Courtyard consists of two five-story towers surrounding a courtyard open on the southern end (hence the name). Construction began in June 2012 with an estimated completion date of September 2013.

Residents of the new affordable building will be determined by a lottery. Applications for that lottery will be available starting in June 2013, available on the WHCHC website, in the Plummer Park Community Center and at Jewish Family Services. The project is being paid for through federal HUD (Housing and Urban Development) funds and the City of West Hollywood’s Affordable Housing Trust Fund.


La Brea/Santa Monica


La Brea and Santa Monica

The former Carl’s Jr. location on the northwest corner of the busy intersection was a magnet for fast-food lovers and, reportedly, drug deals. But the building came down last fall as construction started on a six-story, mixed-use project with 12,800 square-feet of retail space and 184 apartments, 36 of which will be affordable units.

The Monarch Group is developing this project, scheduled for completion in March 2014, according to Seymour. The two-level underground parking is nearly complete with construction crews scheduled to start parking there starting in late January/early February 2013.

No retail tenants have been announced yet.


La Brea/Romaine


This abandoned 44,500 square-foot industrial building on the southeast corner of the intersection (diagonally across from the Best Buy) dates back to 1933, having housed many different businesses over the years, including an auto dealership, an art gallery and a framing studio.

This building is being refurbished for 11,500 square-feet of retail space on the ground level and 33,000 square-feet of office space on the second through fifth floors.

Additionally, the adjacent single-story building immediately to the south was demolished to make way for a new building consisting of 8,600 square-feet of ground-floor retail and 134 parking spaces on three levels above the retail space.

Renovations started in December 2011 and should be completed by March 2013, said Ben Soleimani, the president of BMB Investment Corp, which is developing the project.

No tenants have been signed yet, but Soleimani hopes to rent the office space to creative and/or production companies.

BMB also owns properties on Melrose Avenue between La Cienega and San Vicente boulevards. Included in those Melrose properties is the proposed new Restoration Hardware showroom building at Westmount Drive and Melrose (across from Urth Café).


La Brea/Willoughby


La Brea at Willoughby (La Brea Gateway)The most controversial of the five developments, this project on the northwest corner of the intersection is known as the La Brea Gateway (not to be confused with the Gateway Center, home of the Target store, a block to the north).

The former home of the KCOP-Channel 13 studios, the building was abandoned in 2003 when KCOP moved to the Paramount Studios lot. In the years since then, the facility has been used occasionally by production companies, but mostly served as a unofficial “hotel” for transients and homeless.

The Martin Group plans to build a four-story, mixed-use project, consisting of 33,500 square-feet of ground floor retail and 179 residential units (10 percent which will be affordable units), plus two levels of subterranean parking.

While the existing buildings on the property were demolished over the summer, a start date for construction is not known as a spokesperson for the project declined to be interviewed.

A lawsuit over the project ended in early December according to Lucille Saunders of the La Brea-Willoughby Coalition, which fought to downsize the project. As a result, La Brea Gateway, which the Los Angeles City Council approved in 2009, was reduced in height from seven stories (75 feet height) to four stories (48 feet height) and in density from 219 units to 179 units.

Saunders reports Martin Group has also agreed to widen narrow Willoughby Street by 5 feet from La Brea to Detroit Street.

A Martin Group bulletin reports that Sprouts Farmers Market, an upscale grocery store similar to Whole Foods, will be a tenant.

  1. Vance, you’re crazy. It’s almost identical to the renderings but actually BETTER.
    Get rid of McDonalds if you want to improve things even more.

  2. Concerning the La Brea/Lexington Building. This looks NOTHING like what this architect originally proposed. A little research also reveals that this architect has a habit of lofty promises.

    The photo on this blog doesn’t do it justice. I know this is La Brea, but I thought we were trying to raise the land value not lower it. It’s a complete disaster, and the crappy white siding is already detoriating, not to mention TACKY. The building isn’t even complete yet?!

    Someone needs to do something about this architect/developer. This is utter garbage.

  3. I am the only candidate for WeHo City Council that actually has a plan to solve congestion with my proposal for a privately funded Personal Rapid Transit (PRT) network.

    These car sized pods will be built above our city streets. PRT companies will pay 5% of revenue to the right-of-way holder (WeHo) for the privilege of giving residents freedom from congestion. They will travel 30-40mph non-stop, using 1/10th energy of a car, powered by solar panels on top of the rails.

    The revenue generated from the PRT can be used to increase rent subsidies, assist our neighbors with HIV, and hire the 3 extra librarians needed to open the Library to full time hours.

    WeHo is a great place to start, and then this network will spread throughout Los Angeles, and eventually owning a car will be a option not a necessity. PRT will connect the East and West of WeHo and give residents freedom of movement. WeHo we will be the first city in the world to have a privately funded solar powered PRT network. Now that is progressive!

    I am amazed that the city leaders can green light development projects of this magnitude without realizing that the traffic near the SM and La Brea intersection is already some of the worst in all of Los Angeles.

    Can you imagine if all your cell phone calls and emails were routed by human operators? Well, that is where we still are with transportation. We need innovation in transport and we need it fast.

    I have been successful in getting WeHo City Hall to consider my plan, but consideration is not enough. They can continue to kick the responsibility of solving traffic to Metro, but how is Metro doing? Traffic is a local problem with a local solution. The solution is not more of the same. The solution is something that is 10X better. The technology is here that will save us.

    That is why in my campaign is focused on “The Legalization of Transport Innovation”.

    Please feel free to contact me at NickGarzilli.com and get involved with my campaign. I need all the help I can get to defeat the powers-that-be that don’t want to see this type of disruptive technology exist.

    1. Actually I was at the meeting for the “Lot” building – as an observer. Last year – so it is a quiet fait accompli from before the deeper madness began. Here is another fine example of mediocrity in design. And CH is all over the map trying to be civic chameleons when it comes to historic preservation and new buildings.Imagine a color changing lizard on a piece of plaid because that’s how I see them when they flip from their opposing stands on what is good to stay and what is good to go and what is esthetic. The La Brea Five are all decidedly bland. Oops – one may not be built. The pre-sold bond money – oh forget it – you know the story. Where are the risk takers who gave us the PDC?

      My overall opinion on this issue is that because the Gang of Five do not care about the East Side – then it doesn’t matter what happens to it. But it does. Because we pay the same taxes as part of the same city. And live under the same government of the same city. Yet neglect, indifference and ugly begin at The Fairfax Maginot Line and continue to the La Brea border. Suck it up and swallow it. But before you do – remember the Kool-Aid.

  4. “The best way to ensure the demise of a neighborhood is to build and build and build so much that cars are in constant gridlock all the time.”

    That must explain why Manhattan, central London, and central Paris all had such terrible “demises” eh?

    1. FYI another anonymous commentor: New York is another Disneyland and quite a bit larger than WeHo. Central London is a mess in terms of traffic and have you ever driven in Paris? Having lived and/or worked in all three cities I speak from experience not conjecture. And further to this: London is part of a Constitutional Monarchy, France is a socialist country and Manhattan is not built for cars and each city has excellent public transport. Sad little WeHo, like the cheese, stands alone.

  5. Cemex is in West Hollywood. Everything on La Brea between Romaine (north side) to Fountain (south side) is West Hollywood.

  6. @ TMS,
    I DO live and own property on the eastside, in this neighborhood and I did. Go to. Meetings about Movietown Plaza. When I asked Darren Embry why Casden would not consider lowering the 2 ten story buildings he told me, “we already have, we wanted to build them 14 stories…”
    As for west siders commenting, personally, I comment on things happening all over our city, never thinking it’s them against me…..go figure.

  7. @Todd Bianco
    Let’s also keep in mind that the fabulous….(soon to be NOT so fabulous), The LOT (Pickford-Fairbanks Movie Studios) are also in the midst of being transformed. So much for potential historic designation, but I digress…..The owner plans on building as high as 6 stories on Santa Monica Blvd. and another glass box is already in the works on the Formosa side.

  8. TMS, you’re getting what you wanted. Why are you so angry?
    You should be happy.
    I live on Hayworth. Not quite the west side.
    And, look, we agree on 960 La Brea….

  9. Unfortunately Cemex is going nowhere. It’s one of the biggest tax generators for the city so there is no pressure for them to relocate.

  10. And for the record, I think what is being done to Romaine/La Brea is a huge mistake. While no one would ever want to live there because of Cemex, the owner had an opportunity to bring back an amazing building. From these pictures it looks like a medical building in the suburbs.

    I’m hopeful that that is an old picture. Here’s a link to what was supposed to be done….not perfect, but not as bad as what’s shown here.


  11. Regarding 10 story towers, Martin states: “that this is the vision for most of Santa Monica Blvd”. Where from the approval of 2 10-story towers do you draw the conclusion that THAT is the vision for most of Santa Monica Blvd.? Movietown Plaza is the largest single piece of available property in the city. No other piece of land could every stand that much density. If we don’t take the opportunity to develop it to it’s fullest and best potential, the city permanently loses the chance.

    Everyone complaining about this lives on the west side and I am highly dubious of those who claim to be my neighbors.

    We sat through 8 years of community meetings about each of these projects where the residents were asked to chime in. The positive response at every city council meeting (including the Movietown Plaza meeting) was 95% positive with o Steve Martin and Allegra Allison being part of the 5%. Typical Westside arrogance.

    Steve Martin: Why were you so supportive about the zoning amendment that allowed Faith Plating to be 7 stories? A bit hypocritical, don’t you think?

  12. @Chole I completely agree that the old industrial building on the corner of Romaine and La Brea would have made fantastic lofts. Great windows, tall ceilings, etc. However, the major problem – whether it’s retail, commercial or residential – is the cement factory on the northeast corner of that same intersection. It grinds away all day, every weekday and diesel-powered trucks line up around the block to load up deliveries. Anyone working in that building would have to have some significant soundproofing as well as a good dust/particulate filter.

    Steve Martin, Cathy & Allegra are all correct about the Movietown Plaza development. Getting in or out of that is going to be a nightmare as the intersection with Santa Monica & Fuller is a very odd intersection (very difficult to make turns) and the intersection of SMB & Poinsettia Pl is a small street that can’t handle a large amount of traffic. Throwing in another stop light intersection will help, but left turners are still going to stack up and block the left lane of westbound traffic.

    With The Lot in full production mode (good for the economy) and the busy La Brea Gateway Center, traffic is already snarled in that area. Things will change when Best Buy goes bankrupt (only a matter of time), and that will be bad if another anchor tenant can’t be found.

    How the new Avalon Bay/Movietown Plaza project will fit into this mess is still a mystery to me.

    The only project with any imagination is the WECHC low-income housing project. I like the renderings and it doesn’t carry the density of the other projects. It also probably won’t generate much traffic given that many of the residents won’t have cars. The other projects look like uninteresting sterile modern buildings that I’m already tired of seeing for the past decade in any number of projects all over the region. Zero architectural interest.

    Don’t we deserve better architecture in the “Creative City?”

    1. @Todd: I have a funny feeling the cement site may be on its way out too. I have no inside info on this but the Romaine opposite building is going to be a pricey one to build and a hard sell to lease.

      I was employed at Trader Joe’s in the 90’s and I was in the Movietown store. One of the reasons that store was never robbed (as so many other Trader Joe’s have been and continue to be) was the configuration of the parking lot and its entrances. Frankly the parking lot was a nightmare and the scene of many nasty conflicts with shoppers, but the plusses of the stores and services outweighed the gawd-awful parking and coincidentally created a deterrent to criminals until the present (unless I have missed something – and I think I would have heard.). There were times when I wondered why shoppers even bothered to attempt it.

      West Hollywood in its aging process has become just another small city, despite its gay friendliness, that has embraced the idea of revenue streams and ugly, sterile and uncreative architecture that also leaves me cold. And it has not matured as much as it has simply aged. Added to this – I do not see these behemoth structures on the Beverly Hills/western city limits and I have often wondered why. Don’t you?

  13. I understand that the small amount of retail space, originally planned at Movietown, is even smaller in the new plan.
    That will not exactly make that block walkable.
    The new design is up in front of Planning Commission Design Review today at 5:30, in the Plummer Park Community center.
    Come and have a look.
    Public is only allowed to comment on the design. It will certainly be interesting to see.

    I‘m sorry to see that 960 La Brea will be so slicked up. That’s such an amazing building.

    1. An opportunity existed in each of these sites to build really remarkable and attractive buildings. The corner of Romaine and La Brea (SE) cried out to be lofts – in keeping with the industrial atmosphere of the neighborhood. Guess it only cried out to few.

      A list of anticipated retail tenants would be quite fascinating. I gather the City is preparing for an avalanche of new businesses to lease these spaces and make millions. I gather too that some of our city leaders are delusional.

      Whilst I am at it. People who comment anonymously AND without any context for their comments sound to me like members of some sort of tea party. I am certain we must have one even in WeHo. On a small scale, as on a national one – they are just as tiresome.

  14. The best way to ensure the demise of a neighborhood is to build and build and build so much that cars are in constant gridlock all the time. People will not want to live there and certainly not want to drive there to shop nor eat. One day, our politicians may understand that infrastructure comes before superstructure. Without widened roads, drivable alleys, synced lights, aerial transportation, subways and bicycle lanes, cars will continue to jam the streets. But the unenlightened powers-that-be, choose to refer to their expanded tax revenue with buzz words like… providing “walkable neighborhoods” and near “transportation corridors”. When public roadways and city transportation is adequate to support 150% of the current population – then and only then should this city consider building more of these RAS buildings. I guess the disastrous traffic congestion on the Wilshire Corridor has taught them nothing.

  15. @TMS
    Allegra is correct. 2 ten story buildings were exactly what Casden Properties was going to build on the Movietown Plaza site before that deal went bankrupt. The new owners, Avalon Bay Communities has decided to lower the towers to 2 seven story buildings but with the same amount of apartments. That does not in my opinion reduce the impacts to the community. I do live on this side of town, in the immediate area and I am here to tell you that not all of our neighbors are thrilled with the size of these projects. I am for development but by no means am I in favor of what is already happening to our part of town. It is being OVER developed. Why is it necessary for these projects to be so huge? Do we really need an addition of close to 1,000 units to improve our area? Is that the only way to develop?
    Regarding the new retail, if the developers do not even know what businesses might be going into their new spaces how is it that you know that they “will be very neighborhood oriented so it’s not like another Target or Best Buy will go in there”?

  16. I also live on the East Side and I am NOT thrilled with all the new development. Traffic is already a nightmare and it is already gridlocked on LaBrea with the projects going now, and with more on the way, it is going to be a nightmare. Then add the SM Blvd projects, and the East Side is paralyzed.

    I don’t want to live in a canyon of apartment buildings. There will be no sun on La Brea.

  17. Sorry, TMS, I watched the Council meeting, when the two ten story towers, at Movietown, were approved by the City Council.
    Being a member of Protect Plummer Park & precinct walking, many times, on the east side, I know a lot of people there.
    I only know of two men and two women, who like the development happening. One of the women asked how to get into the low income housing.
    There was a third woman but, she moved to a high end building in another part of the City.
    I suspect you’re against the park being saved as well. Actually, I suspect you’re one of the four people.

    If, Steve Martin is one of the kooks because he’s against a canyon, between gigantic buildings and he tells the truth,
    then he’s my kind of kook.

  18. Once again, lies from Steve Martin. There is no such vision for 10 stories building on Santa Monica Blvd. He tried to spread this fear throughout the community a few years ago resulting in an embarrassing repeat loss in his run for City Council. Fortunately people have finally figured out that he’s one of the “kooks”.

  19. If you only count the West Hollywood projects in this article and then add the 371 units in the Movietown Plaza and the additional units from the project that is going forward at Faith Plating, you get nearly 1,000 new units. While the upside is that there will be approximately 140 new affordable units for West Hollywood residents, the sheer mass of these structures will forever change the nature of the City. It should also be noted that City Staff attempted to force the Monarch Group to build two ten story buildings which the developered rejected as simply not being viable. If you participated in the General Plan process you would know that this is the vision for most of Santa Monica Blvd. With the exception of John D’Amico, our City Council members are “bigger is better” size queens.
    Steve Martin

  20. Sorry to all these posters, but those of us who live in the immediate neighborhood couldn’t be more thrilled with this activity. New shops, new neighbors….it’s all fantastic news. And as for traffic, this retail will be very neighborhood oriented so it’s not like another Target or Best Buy will go in there.

    The reason that the Weho Gateway has empty storefronts along SMB is that the owner has determined that they will ONLY rent to restaurants, creating a great little dining area for the neighborhood. They are in active negotiations for all the empty spaces.

  21. West Hollywood is becoming a city of ugly buildings.
    No style…Where do they get these 2nd rate designers from?

  22. To Concerned Citizen: You ask the question, “What has been done about CEQA and the environmental impact on our community?”

    The answer is the one used over and over and over again when the City Council approves anything… including the General Plan that guides it all. The phrase that lets them do whatever they want regardless of the consequences to the city and its residents is, “adopting a statement of overriding considerations.”

    That basically means that the Council can conclude that all these projects or plans that have negative impacts from increased traffic to destruction of historic buildings to uprooting the trees at Plummer Park to a plethora of environmental issues that can’t be mitigated are, nevertheless, necessary to meet more important city goals. Of course, what they “consider” to be goals important enough to “override” all the negative consequences is completely up to them.

    Quite a trick, huh? Now you know how the Council members’ “considerations” always “override” your nightmares. Until we wise up and vote to elect new Council members who “consider” the same things to be important that we do… all you can expect is more of the same.

  23. TERM LIMITS NOW!!! Stop the madness of development. Or maybe I should just sell my 101 year old historic Craftsman home on Hancock Avenue (with a big deep lot) to the highest bidder for a new condo…….

  24. Certainly, the city could (and should) make low interest loans to storefronts from Gardner to Fairfax. In our early days (1984), this was a founding mission of our new self-government.

  25. We are engaged in establishing retail and living space for whom???? If you build it they will come? From where and using what money? What new hell is this this? How many of these dinosaurs are green? From the River of Denial come the Revenue Streams. Here is a thought – theme parks abound in Southern California – West Hollywood does not need to add its name to the list. With each and every new project, expectations arise and I have yet to see how they can or will be fulfilled. Will La Brea become an avenue of empty storefronts, ample lounge areas for the homeless and their carts? Best Buy struggles, the Target Gateway has unrented street units.

    An expectation of common sense is on the wish lists of residents – especially those on the Blighted Lower East Side – particularly when the sitting government has been sitting in the same place for so long. We wish they had vision and taste and a sense of place. It is my impression they lack each and every one of these qualities and despite the recommendations of “staff” they forge ahead. It is so difficult to exclude the thought of revenue streams wetting their pockets.

    The storefronts from Gardner to Fairfax ( the Maginot Line) – remain crummy. Why not establish a way; a fund; a revenue stream that flows in their direction to improve their facades? Create better signage, allow incentives for better looking, more user friendly shops already in existence? Why not?

    Some civilized governments have a “no confidence” features. Perhaps our own needs to be more civilized.

  26. Thank you to James Mills for this coverage. This s so shocking. While reading this and looking at the pictures, all I could say to myself is “how dare they?” The City that once cared about its citizens is now the City that does not care if it takes their Citizens more than an hour to get to work in Century City. Urban Village, I think not.

  27. And where, pray tell, is the development of this magnitude,in mid-city and the on the west side being approved or encouraged. How about the lot next to the Palms Bar? Would 5 or 7 stories work there? How about the Trader Joe’s and the lot behind it? Would that hold 7 stories with 200 hundred units? Does the community know that the General Plan has zoned the Veterans’ Memorial for 5 stories? When is this insanity going to slow down? We have been told we are planning for the future…Who’s future? And why is there NO PLAN for the future that includes any kind of real public transportation that will help alleviate the already snarled traffic? Make no mistake the developers, most of whom live no where near here, are “running” this town. Let’s see, 582 units, for a minimum of about 500 cars for 1,000 trips a day, plus all the retail space with shoppers coming and going and businesses with employees coming and going …and THEN Avalon is going to put up two 7 story towers, (not included in this article) with another 300 plus units at Movietown Plaza, and 7 stories approved for Faith Plating. What has been done about CEQA and the environmental impact on our community? IF one more developer, city employee, or city leader tells us there will be no significant impact I think we should pitch in for some therapy for them, because it will prove they are completely delusional.

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