Several WeHo Residents Raise Concerns About Scope and Design of 8555 Santa Monica Project

8555 Santa Monica Blvd

On Thursday evening, about 25 people attended a West Hollywood Planning Commission Design Review Subcommittee meeting about the revised design for a proposed mixed-use development project at 8555 Santa Monica Blvd. at West Knoll.

Several residents—primarily people who live near the site—spoke during the designated public comments period to raise concerns about the project. As a result, it was decided to hold an additional review meeting to address some of the issues raised, particularly with regard to green credits and parking.

A previous design of the project went to the Design Review Subcommittee in September 2012, when it was not advanced to the Planning Commission. Stephanie Reich, West Hollywood’s urban designer, and representatives from developer Soto Capital LP noted several changes that had been made to the design as a result of feedback given at the 2012 meeting.

Changes from the initial plans included reducing the amount of commercial space from 41,168 square feet to 34,116 square feet; reducing the number of residential units from 102 to 95; increasing the amount of “private open space” from 17, 853 square feet to 19,033 square feet; and reducing the number of parking spaces from 318 to 264. Additionally, city’s design review memo notes that the building has been pulled back from the property line to add “breathing room” between it and the adjacent Ramada. A courtyard has also been added.

“From a design review standpoint … This is an excellent project for this site,” Reich said. “The design is very well-done.”

Although many of the people who spoke during the public comments period said they felt that the new design was an improvement over the previous version, each raised objections or concerns. Several objected to the project’s size and appearance; many said it felt too large for the neighborhood and/or incompatible with the area’s character. Concerns were also raised about the parking configuration and green credits. Reich said that the city would thoroughly review the green credits allocated to ensure they were calculated correctly.

Irene Oppenheimer said the design wouldn’t fit in the neighborhood.

“The whole street has a kind of Spanish feel,” she said. “This design is clunky, it’s boxy … and it’s far too large.”

Two representatives of the Ramada made comments, which included raising concerns about the size of the project and its effect on views from Ramada rooms. Committee member John Altschul grew annoyed, particularly when he felt comments veered outside of the scope of the meeting, and had a tense exchange with one of the Ramada representatives.

Without addressing anyone specific, Altschul also pushed back more generally to concerns about development.

“I don’t know what people expect,” he said, noting the high population of the L.A. area. “You can’t just move here and say now that I live here other people can’t … You can’t say, ‘I got mine, other people can’t get theirs.’ ”

He said that there will be more density and more residential developments on WeHo’s major streets, and that the city will look different in five years.

Before the meeting adjourned, Reich noted that the proposed Melrose Triangle project, already approved by the design subcommittee, is on the agenda for the Planning Commission meeting next Thursday.

CORRECTION: A previous version of this story included a quote from Deane Kenworthy, whose comments were inadvertantly misrepresented. WEHOville.com regrets the error.


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skywatcher888
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skywatcher888

John Altshul, ““I don’t know what people expect,” he said, noting the high population of the L.A. area. “You can’t just move here and say now that I live here other people can’t … You can’t say, ‘I got mine, other people can’t get theirs.’ ” I know and respect John. He has devoted a ton of hours to the benefit of the city. But I can’t *possibly* imagine a more thoughtless argument for all the development he has green lighted for our city. 1) Has he given any thought to the rents or prices for any of these units?… Read more »

nir zilberman
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SAD. SAD. SAD. OUR CITY OF WEHO IS A HUGE JOKE! STOP BUILDING START REBUILDING WHAT WE GOT! KEEP OUR HISTORY. OUR CITY BECOME JUST ANTHER UGLY CITY, NO HEART, NO LOVE. NO COMMUNITY…WOOPS, SORRY WE GOT LOTS OF AA AND NA MEETINGS. OUR LEADERS ARE ALL ABOUT MONEY, NO WONDER SO MANY PEOPLE GETTING OUT FROM OUR CITY TO SILVERLAKE AND TO THE CITY OF L.A. OUR LEADERS ARE FAKE 2 FACED PEOPLE AND THE WORST IS WE LET THEM DO IT. BRING A T.V. NEWS THEY WILL ALL SHOW UP. DO SOMETHING TO SUPPORT REAL PEOPLE THEY ARE… Read more »

JJ
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JJ

Great design. Will revitalize this site where a dump currently sits. Fully support this project.
So tired of hearing all the conspiracy theories that are shouted by the same bunch over every new development proposed. Let’s get this built.

Joe
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Joe

Where are all these cars supposed to go.. on a weekend you can not even east on SM BLVD from 24hr Fitness to Fairfax.. Although if they eliminate the cross walk at the gym I would vote for it in a second to get things moving.. #wehosubway it will be the next big idea…

Lynn
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Lynn

@Don Jones: With 400 plus conversations over the past 8 years is it possible that Mr. D’Amico and Mr. Altschul could share some of their presumably forward thinking concepts regarding the shape, character and goals of development in West Hollywood? The community might benefit fro
their collective wisdom if we knew about it.

Romanoff
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Romanoff

Mike: Ding ding ding…you get a gold star. You’ve proven the point that the original mix of tenants was not right for Gateway. This explains why the new mix of tenants are succeeding so much more… how stupid was it to have AAA in a mall like that!

mike dunn
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mike dunn

Romanoff, Is it that difficult to admit you are wrong. Now it’s the AAA should never have moved there. Businesses have come and gone. Gateway has a very bad parking situation. I only go there when I have to. Even when going to Target or Best Buy fighting for a parking space near the elevators and then having to wait in line to validate one’s parking ticket makes it a unpleasant experience. Hopefully the new Target in Hollywood will be much more enjoyable. But Romanoff, you just keep monitoring the businesses at Gateway and provide us the latest update when… Read more »

mike dunn
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mike dunn

Romanoff, The manager and others at the Auto stated parking was the problem. Even before the move a employee complained to me about the poor parking situation when she had to walk with me a block to inspect my new vehicle.

Romanoff
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Romanoff

Auto Club moved to a location 1/3 the size to save money. Their Gateway location was stupidly large. And I’m thankful they left to make room for a fantastic new restaurant.

mike dunn
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mike dunn

Romanoff, The reason AAA moved out was parking. They were previously on the westside and moved back there because of the parking issue. This was told to me by the office manager. Gateway was poorly designed as far as parking. It’s great for Target and Best Buy but lacks especially for those businesses on Santa Monica Bl.

Romanoff
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Romanoff

Alison: I am a long time east side resident who struggles just like everyone. However I live in West Hollywood to experience something slightly different then I would find in the suburbs (Walmart, Payless Shoes). As for Payless not being able to cut it because of parking, please explain the wild success of Mendocino Farms, Crazy Rock N Sushi, Ben Mo, etc.

My attitude is a direct result of the overwhelming NIMBY, fear based attitudes that you are espousing. Sorry you don’t like it, but I’m not here to please you.

Alison
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Alison

I’ve lived on the east side since 1978 but ok, whatever. Since you know every single tenant of the Gateway Center, my guess is you either work in the rental office, work in one of the stores or you are one of the elders who sit or walk around in malls every day. Quite frankly, I don’t care. I don’t shop there. I won’t even go to that Target.

Oh and how was the Auto Club wrong for the area? We all have cars on the east side too.

Romanoff
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Romanoff

@Mike Dunn: For those who pay attention forgive me….Mike, there are no empty spaces at the Gateway. The only tenants who have left were entirely wrong for the neighborhood (Payless Shoes??). The stores are not just for Weho residents. If we relied on our own residents for our city coffers we would be screwed. Most of our taxes are generated by people who are draw to the clean and safe streets, diverse restaurants and shops and overall positive experience they get while being here. If you choose to ignore that and consider that “selling out to developers”, then you are… Read more »

Alison
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Alison

Excuse me Romanoff, but there are many eastside residents that probably wouldn’t agree with you that Payless Shoes was wrong for the neighborhood. Remember, the east side is not made up of rich people like the more upscale west side is (at least for now, until all the rent controlled apartments aren’t torn down and replaced with high rent apartments or people move and the rents are jacked way up). The problem Payless had is the problem all the spaces that face Santa Monica have…the parking lot for the Gateway is so bad, nobody wants to use it except for… Read more »

Alison
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Alison

I meant to say until all the rent controlled apartments are torn down and replaced with high rent apartments.

mike dunn
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mike dunn

Perhaps you believe in just making excuses why businesses have come and gone at the Gateway. First you say Payless was wrong for the neighborhood but then you say the businesses there are not just for West Hollywood residents. The Auto Club came and went. The restaurant next to the Formosa Cafe has opened and closed under several different managements. These are just the ones I’m aware of since I’m not a big shopper there. Exactly how am I am selling out to developers? I’m pointing out that in my opinion with all the proposed development in West Hollywood there… Read more »

Romanoff
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Romanoff

Mickey, I respectfully disagree with you. Very fitting design. Unique and fits well with the neighborhood. The condos were unsaleable because they opened in the height of the recession AND the developer was quite greedy with what they were asking. Even when the mostly sold during auction, the developer declined all offers and wisely (at the time) quickly leased every unit within weeks.

West Hollywood is a modern city with modern design.