PDC’s Cohen Plans Meetings to Pitch MTA Project to WeHo Residents

A “preliminary conceptual development view” of the proposed project on the MTA grounds on Santa Monica Boulevard.
A “preliminary conceptual development view” of the proposed project on the MTA grounds on Santa Monica Boulevard.
Charles Cohen, owner of West Hollywood’s Pacific Design Center, is planning a series of community meetings in an effort to sell residents and city leaders on his proposal to redevelop the land now occupied by a Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority depot on Santa Monica Boulevard at San Vicente.

A story by WEHOville in February revealed that Cohen had signed an agreement that gave him the exclusive right for two years to negotiate with the MTA a plan to build a massive complex that would include two high-rise towers, 600,000 square feet of residential/hotel space, 120,000 square feet of retail shops, a 2,500-seat movie theater complex and an 800-seat open amphitheater, plus a 50,000-square-foot sheriff’s station. The 10.4 acre site — equivalent to ten football fields — includes the current location of the West Hollywood Sheriff’s station, and its sale to Cohen would have to be approved by the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors.

The deal with the MTA sparked outrage among West Hollywood residents and City Council members, who hadn’t been notified in advance of the Cohen agreement.

The effort by Cohen Brothers Realty Corp. of California (CBRCC) to reach out to residents and community leaders will be led by Steve Afriat and James Arnone and is expected to start soon. Afriat is a major lobbyist in Los Angeles County who has been the subject of controversy because he has managed the campaigns of all West Hollywood City Council members except for John D’Amico and also represents major companies that do business with the city. Arnone is a partner in the real estate practice of Latham & Watkins, which represents developers interested in real estate projects in West Hollywood. He and his law partners also are major contributors to the campaigns of council incumbents.

The City of West Hollywood has decided not to actively participate in the CBRCC outreach effort. According to a communication with members of the city’s Planning Commission, CBRCC wants to begin the process quickly and hasn’t been clear about what it intends to do.

  1. All I can say is “NO”! Cohen is trying to ruin our community with his obviously well placed bribes! We must stop this.

  2. They should be arrested and a Federal probe into a conflict of interest in these scumbags being the architect of campaigns for people who make the decisions to give these guys permits to destroy our city. So many backdoor deals and special treatments. They are scum.

  3. Hideous overdevelopment coming from the same guys who brought us those twin ugly red monstrosities as part of the PDC. Out of scale building is out of control in this city and soon there won’t be any site lines left to the Hills which makes this city so special. Let’s try some low density development for a change and require these developers to stop overbuilding, require green space and proper landscaping and demand appropriate setbacks instead of covering everything up in this city with stucco and concrete. Ugh!

  4. century city in boys town? looks like a red herring to me. what they really want to build is a civic center but the public need to be riled up first. can’t wait to see the outreach effort.

  5. One can’t help but think that since Charles Cohen is backing WeHo Councilmember John Duran’s run for LA County Supervisor and “Cohen would have to be approved by the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors” that this would be a extremely cozy situation for Cohen and Duran, now wouldn’t it? Is Afriat in on this deal, too? It is a tangled web. Doesn’t smell right, somehow. Cool project though.

  6. As much as replacing the MTA depot with something else would be great we have to be careful what goes in there…putting a giant movie theatre and hotel would change they dynamic of that intersection. As well as bring in more chain type restaurants and shops that would be drawn to the foot traffic of the new complex. While this may be good for tax revenue it will be horrible for the LGBT community that lives their.

  7. What a monumental opportunity for a city-changing project. Will it get done right?
    Either way, this is going to make for some FUN reading over the next few years.

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