The West Hollywood Planning Commission unanimously approved the proposed Melrose Triangle project Thursday night at a meeting at which some residents objected to the demolition of the “Streamline Moderne” building at 9080 Santa Monica Blvd. that currently sits on the site.
The project site is bounded 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. Alan Pullman, founder of Studio One Eleven, the project’s architect, describes the westernmost of its three buildings as “a beacon of entry into the city.”
Members of the West Hollywood Preservation Association (WHPA) said the project should incorporate the 9080 Santa Monica building, built in 1928 and now empty, into its modern design.
“If this building was in South Beach, there would be a giant, gay riot to save this building,” said Roy Oldenkamp, WHPA’s vice president. “There is not going to be any such riot because of a lethargic community.”
A report commissioned by the city from LSA Associates, an environmental impact consultant, has recommended that the 9080 Santa Monica building be moved if it cannot be kept at the existing location.
Other objections raised by speakers included the likelihood of increased traffic in the area, parking problems and the possibility that the building’s four levels of underground parking would intrude on the water table under the site, which was raised by Jeanne Dobrin.
Commissioner Marc Yeber said that wouldn’t be an issue. “Hydrology is dealt with. They de-water, seal it up, and it’s fine,” he said.
Several residents praised the project. “If Beverly Hills can deal with their traffic, why can’t we?” said Bobbie Edrick, addressing complaints that the project would cause more traffic. “I would hope that I see this project completed in my lifetime.”
Another supporter was Jim Banks. “I’m here to show my support for the project,” he said. “Our western gateway has been an eyesore along a dead stretch of Santa Monica for as far back as I can remember.”
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 at that time to build six levels of underground parking.
As approved, the 303,000 square foot project will consist of three buildings with a wide public passageway connecting Santa Monica Boulevard with Melrose Avenue. It will house offices, restaurants and shops and 76 residential units, 15 of which would be reserved for low- and moderate-income renters. It will 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.