WeHo Planning Commission Will Consider Melrose Triangle ‘Gateway’ Project This Week

The Melrose Triangle Gateway building (architect Studio One Eleven)
Illustration of the proposed Melrose Triangle Gateway building (architect Studio One Eleven)

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.

Melrose Triangle project site plan
Melrose Triangle project site plan

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.

  1. @JJ….as a clarification…..If by the “neighborhood mailing list” you mean WHWRA…..that neighborhood association only heard about this “open house” through the grapevine. The Melrose Triangle Project did not formally reach out to the entire community through the WHWRA….It should have….I think that was the point “Meister4weho” was making.

    But the good news is, thanks to WHWRA you did hear about it and you attended. That’s what matters in the end.

  2. @JJ, no need for hostility – it’s not a attack. I did attend the event – but like I said, the WHWRA neighborhood association members did not receive an invite until a few days before the event. And, FYI, as former President of WHWRA, I’ve met with this developer’s team for over 10 years, along with about 5-6 others from the neighborhood. The reason the project has evolved into what you see today is because of that positive interaction. The neighborhood group wants the project to be the best it can be — for both the developer and the neighborhood — we’d like to see a win-win. The primary concern at this point is mitigating traffic impacts and dealing with traffic circulation. Hopefully the developer, City and neighborhood can provide some solutions to make that happen.

    1. @ Meister – no hostility here. Just correcting a statement you made that was not true and it gave the wrong impression to everyone reading. All the best.

  3. @ Meister – everyone that was on our neighborhood email list was notified (that’s how I found out). I knew nothing of the project before I was invited to the open house – so you’re misinformed when you say it was just for “supporters.’ Please don’t spread falsehoods.

  4. @JJ – the reason neighbors didn’t show up at the open house is that they weren’t necessarily invited. I heard it was an event for “supporters.” An invite was apparently sent out last minute by the neighborhood association and so there were a few residents who attended. @Jonathan – you make some good points. If developers and city staff would work with residents and existing businesses to address neighborhood concerns, to mitigate some of the potential impacts, to keep our neighborhood-serving businesses local, we would have better projects and a constituency that feels like someone is listening. It’s not NIMBY to want solutions (mitigations) in advance of a project’s approval – it’s called, being proactive.

    1. @ Meister – everyone that was on our neighborhood email list was notified (that’s how I found out). I knew nothing of the project before I was invited to the open house – so you’re misinformed when you say it was for “supporters.” Please don’t spread statements that are not true.

    2. And if attended the open house you you would have heard the developer’s rep describe how they already have addressed some of the same issues that come up over every development project.

  5. Why do people who live in weho need free parking? It is a very walkable city. I walk almost everywhere when I am home. Given my location, I can walk from Doheny to Fairfax, and I do. The only places I ever have to take my car are the grocery stores, and that is only if I am doing a heavy shopping — and they have free parking. Gyms, restaurants, bars, yoga, banks, parks, Beverly Center, cleaners, hardware stores are all walking distance.

    You can’t complain about traffic and complain about lack of free parking. There is a cause and effect. Make all the parking free, and people will have an incentive to drive.

    If you are actually a weho resident, I could only see the need to drive if your activities take you on our long east-west corridor, and if that is the case, take the bus. The 704 and 4 are quite frequent, and there are even apps to help you so that you do not have to wait more than 5 minutes.

    Additionally, most of the traffic in weho is pass-through traffic. What we do in the city will have a marginal impact on that. it would be as if the residents of Laurel Canyon were complaining about development in the Hills causing traffic problems.

  6. thanks goodness they are tearing down that ugly eyesore that sits on that lot now. YUCK!

    now tear down the hamburger joint and the strip of shops west of that and put something attractive up

  7. I sometimes just feel like giving up. Who is Commissioner John Altschul? How is he an expert on our water table? No doubt he’ll cite the Target parking garage water issue years ago. But you know who is to blame? The developers who built Target. With proper building code (which might mean more money) then they can go as deep as they’d like. And you are correct Jonathan (from above)..if the water table was so high in Weho there is no way they could have built the PDC. It’s all an excuse. City Council people are puppets to the developers because they either get some kind of kickback or further funding for their political campaigns. We do continually ask for FREE PUBLIC PARKING. We ask for a village feel. But they don’t listen. They want Weho to be a mini NYC. Thus all the glass and everything being 4+ stories. Honestly..they don’t need this on that corner. If they want to develop it…fine. But in return they need to concede on some of our requests. If it were me? I would say…go build whatever you want…just make all the parking structures free, eliminate the street meters or go back to longer time periods and free Sundays. With so much development…they are sure to bring in the lost revenue from parking. This City Council is so unqualified for their positions it’s ridiculous.

  8. This project is beautifully designed and will create a exciting and proper west gateway to our City. This area is currently home to an empty lot, a dated and not historically significant building. The building does have period specific interest but nothing else. This end of town has been a dead zone for years. I am a homeowner in the area (have been for many years) and fully support this development. I attended the open house the developer held for the public and was impressed by their presentation. The model, floor plans and general material selections were on display and was presented by the developer. Unfortunately not too many neighbors showed enough interest to attend, which is a shame. I was impressed with the connection the design created between Melrose and Santa Monica Blvd, the 400+ parking spaces that will be provided in the evening hours for the public (something we desperately need down at this end of town), and the average size of the retail spaces (less than 2,000 sq. ft). It should bring new life to the west end of town and revenue to the City!

  9. First let me start off by saying there is nothing wrong with big development, developers that have a desire to invest in our community and create positive change where it is needed can be a really good thing.
    Projects can be well designed, stepped, placed, and with all the concerns met if the creative designers are challanged by our board to follow the city mission statement.
    What I dont understand is that anytime someone has a constructive thought for a change it is looked at as NIMBYS or balked at by our own planning dept.
    Do some of these people that balk even know how to read a plan ? Gosh do the board members know how something is designed built or planned or even how to read plans themselves ?
    One of the project architects made a statement at one of his own meetings describing one of his own buildings to be built that he could not or did not want to explain just how construction would be staged …. what ? …I knew and Im not even an architect.
    I dont understand why we cant work with developers for positive results and to meet critical needs for the areas being changed.
    I dont understand why it always seems that our own staff is always giving concessions to the developers rather than us hearing them say “we have asked them to add free public parking” “We have asked that the project have a village feel” “we have asked for something other than stucco, wood and glass” “we have asked them to cover certain traffic mitigation costs”
    I dont understand why we cant ask for a small percentage of commercial space to be allocated to businesses that cant afford $10-$20 psf like the shoe shiners or cleaners so that we dont have to drive or one day pay NY prices to launder a shirt.
    And can someone clarify the “water table” our own board is giving up two floors of parking ?
    They are mad seriously mad …
    Water can be protected by liners, pumped out, and if its structural they still have to build deeper footings to make a building safe so why do we keep giving away parking ?
    Why do we design new buildings with tandem parking stalls ?
    We need a new planning body and staff they clearly do not have the interests of the community at heart and are clueless to getting the most out of change that benifits all.
    And as I have said many times If we have as a city a mission statement why dont they follow it. Other citys all over the world make these things happen and developers work with them to give a neighborhood more than what was there before.
    I call for a project moratorium for one year if planning cant get its act together or until proper guidelines are in place and designed to meet the different needs for each area. A balanced approach to traffic, balance density, needs for every economic level of new business or residential tenant not “just deal with it”
    There are enough projects happening already that will forever change the city in a very negative way.

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