West Hollywood City Council Endorses Melrose Triangle Project

The Melrose Triangle project's "paseo" linking Santa Monica Boulevard to Melrose Avenue. (architect Studio One Eleven)
The Melrose Triangle project’s “paseo” linking Santa Monica Boulevard to Melrose Avenue. (architect Studio One Eleven)

The West Hollywood City Council endorsed the Melrose Triangle development tonight, in effect rejecting the arguments of those who objected that it would require the demolition of an architecturally significant building.

The Council did not give the project its final approval. Instead, acting on a motion by Mayor John D’Amico, it asked that city staffers first investigate ways to reduce the impact of various problems such as traffic congestion that the new development is likely to cause. The Council will consider recommendations for reducing those problems at its first meeting in October.

The development will sit on a plot of land bounded by Santa Monica Boulevard, Melrose Avenue and Almont Drive at the city’s border with Beverly Hills. It will consist of three buildings with a total of 300,000 square feet 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.

The project has been in the planning stages for more than a decade. The latest iteration of its design, by the Studio One Eleven architectural design firm, positions it as a dramatic gateway into West Hollywood for those traveling east from Beverly Hills.

Several dozen people spoke about the project at tonight’s Council meeting, with most of the opponents objecting to the demolition of a 1928 building at 9080 Santa Monica Blvd. That building, a dog and cat hospital, was renovated in the Streamline Moderne style in 1938 by Wurdeman & Becket, one of whose principals, Welton Becket, designed the Capitol Records building and the Cinerama Dome. Becket’s son, Bruce, himself an architect, spoke in favor of preserving the building, which he described as the home of the country’s first animal hospital.

Others opposing the demolition of the Streamline Moderne building included Jen Dunbar of the West Hollywood Preservation Alliance, Jeffrey Bissiri of the Art Deco Society of Los Angeles and Adrian Scott Fine of the L.A. Conservancy.

Many of those who objected to the demolition said they weren’t opposed to the idea of a new development in the Melrose Triangle area if the 9080 Santa Monica building could be integrated into the design. Representatives of Charles Company, the developer, said that it wouldn’t be possible to include the entire building in the project’s design. Charles Company had proposed to preserve the door to the 9080 building and use it as an entry to one of its buildings. Jeff Seymour, a lobbyist for Charles Company, responded to requests tonight for further preservation by saying Charles Company would try to integrate more elements of the building into the project.

Some residents objected to the impact the project would have on traffic in the area. Lauren Meister, a resident of West Hollywood West and a candidate in the 2015 election for a seat on the City Council, raised some of those concerns.

“For years, the neighborhood was promised by the developer that the Almont cul-de-sac would be beautified, they were told that significant money would go towards traffic mitigation and traffic calming in the neighborhood, and they were told extending the Melrose streetscape to Doheny would be considered,” Meister said. “It’s nice that the applicant says they plan to work with West Hollywood West. However, a real dollar amount needs to be identified and included in the conditions tonight.”

“We need to study removing two-hour parking in the surrounding residential neighborhoods,” she said. “Between the Melrose Triangle, the city garage, the PDC (Pacific Design Center) and Restoration Hardware, there should be plenty of parking spaces for visitors to the commercial area. Let’s encourage their use and discourage commercial parking in the residential neighborhood. ”

Those were issues that appeared to most concern Council members. D’Amico supported the project, but said he wanted city staffers to study ways to deal with the possible impact of increased traffic on the Almont Drive cul-de-sac and on an alley that connects Melrose and Rangely avenues. He also asked that options be presented for reducing the likelihood of increased traffic congestion on Santa Monica Boulevard and the impact of a proposal by the City of Beverly Hills to bar left-hand turns from Doheny onto Santa Monica Boulevard. D’Amico and other Council members asked also asked city staffers to consider the feasibility of eliminating the use of commercial parking passes in the adjacent West Hollywood West residential area and eliminating the existing two-hour parking limit in the area.

Councilmember Abbe Land said she didn’t believe the 9080 Santa Monica building as that impressive as an example of Streamline Moderne design. Speaking of the new project, she said, “This iconic design will become the next wave of preservation in a hundred years.”

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Roger Sherlock
Roger Sherlock
5 years ago

Hi, I’m from Manchester in England and earlier this week I have just visited Hollywood walk of fame and was very disappointed. It’s so tacky, too many rubbish superheroes, guys giving away CDs then asking for money, others banging plastic drums, hustlers etc, and as a tourist I thought it’d be magical, lots of history, cleaner, historical etc but no. You really need to clean the place up, get rid of the rubbish, tourists want history and an experience, not all at tat that presently occupies the pavement. Also all the shops need cleaning up, nicer fronts, to be more… Read more »

JJ
JJ
5 years ago
Reply to  Roger Sherlock

Roger – the Hollywood Walk of Fame is in Hollywood. This is the City of West Hollywood. While I agree with your comments, the residents of West Hollywood have no control over the things that go on in the Hollywood area. Oh, and by the way, I was in London recently, and I visted The Loading Bay Gallery on Brick Lane and while I find most of London delightful, this area was a dump and needs a good scrubbing. Just sayin’.

mike dunn
mike dunn
5 years ago

That so called Streamline Building is only the fake facade on it’s front facing wall. History of the building tells us that this is but a remodel not the original design. And said Streamline facade is a poor representation. This building is nothing more than a old stucco covered building that has seen better days.

Rusty Updegraff
5 years ago

why tear down history? There are 50 empty store fronts on Melrose, explain why we need this. That is hardly an Ugly old building. Should we kill off old people, their old and not as attractive. No regard for historical architecture.

John
John
6 years ago

I’m thrilled to see that we will finally have a decent looking building on our western edge. As things are now, who would ever bring guests from out of town into the city along SMB? After driving through parkwayed Beverly Hills, The first building on either side in an abandoned wreck! it’s “Welcome to WeHo! Abandoned building with billboard on the left, abandoned stucco box on the right…” Oh, but wait! That used to be “streamline moderne” before it was stuccoed over! Yes, it’s still abandoned, but… streamline moderne… under stucco! If people are willing to lie down in front… Read more »

skywatcher888
skywatcher888
6 years ago

Is there no way to stem this tidal wave of development? The current city council of West Hollywood has DESTROYED the city — no if ands or buts about it, all except for the wealthy few who have nothing better to do than throw their money around. Live in WH on a moderate income??? Ha! When the price of food and other services rise because there are people who will pay the exorbitant prices, where will you shop? I care far less about “character” than affordability. We are developing ourselves out of our own homes. Even if you’re a homeowner,… Read more »

JJ
JJ
6 years ago
Reply to  skywatcher888

@ Skywatcher888 – no you can’t stop development – otherwise we’d all still be living in mud huts and driving on dirt roads. A lot of the development going on right now is due to a economy in recovery. The developments create jobs, bring in new tax revenue and new life to otherwise dead, outdated areas of the City. West Hollywood has thrived in the 30 years that it has been a City. We are one of the few cities in the county that had money in the bank during one of the worst economic down turns in a generation.… Read more »

mike dunn
mike dunn
6 years ago

I really never paid much attention to the 9080 building until today while driving by twice. What I observed is an ordinary looking stucco building with a Modern facade that appears to have been modified in several places. While I don’t think the entire building should be saved perhaps the front only could be incorporated into the design even if it meant moving it several feet in either direction. While some may say that’s impossible I can only point out a historic brick building in Downtown L. A. I believe along Third Street is jacked up for either moving or… Read more »

Lynn Russell
Lynn Russell
6 years ago

John D’Amico was on Planning Commission for nearly 10 years and remarked that he had been having weekly conversations with John Altschul over coffee once a week for that time…… 52 times a year times for about 10 years. They never noticed the Art Deco building or contemplated its possibilities as inspiration for a project? What ever could they have been talking about since 2003?

Woody McBreairty
6 years ago

John D’Amico said this was the first project that came to the Planning Commission after his appointment in 2003. Yet no one on the Council seems to know it was there, much less it’s history. And according to D’Amico, August 18, 2014 was was “too late in the game” to consider the building’s historical value. Curious doublespeak I say, at best. BTW, the restaurant near the corner of Santa Monica & La Cienega is more than a place where 3 of the 4 “Doors” had a drink. It was once their recording studio. That is why “The Doors” stayed at… Read more »

SaveWeho
SaveWeho
6 years ago

@Mike Dunn I agree with you. Light rail, monorail…whatever it takes. It was bad planning when they ripped out the tracks in ’98. Agree about the PDC buildings, especially the red one. I think the overall feeling here is all the developments are oversized with this same boxed-glass design. I honestly don’t think as many people would complain if things were scaled down with different designs. The Red Building is a huge eyesore we’ll have to live with forever. And if it were up to me…I think the new Sheriff’s Dept should move into the red building leaving that whole… Read more »

mike dunn
mike dunn
6 years ago

SaveWeHo There is no consistent style in West Hollywood like Santa Barbara or Old Town Pasadena. I don’t believe these new buildings look that bad. The two most horrid looking buildings are the over sized library and across the street the PDC Red Building. A monorail only between the cities boundaries will not solve the traffic problem. What we need is Light Rail and should be demanding it extending from west L. A. to at least Silverlake. But why stop there? The Light Rail could go south on open land along Sepulvada and connect with the Expo Line and continue… Read more »

SaveWeho
SaveWeho
6 years ago

As for the Melrose Triangle…we can’t stop development. All we can do is require things like more than enough parking, sufficient entry’s and exits and appropriate right of ways. Lets work with what we can control. But that will only happen if City Council enforces these kinds of requirements. As for the architectural style. I don’t think its particularly attractive. It will add a big box store dynamic to the west end. It will get old and dated just like La Brea/Target Gateway already is. But if Weho City Council won’t put in any type of architectural requirements, like Santa… Read more »

Manny
Manny
6 years ago

In the 1970s when I was a kid in elementary school we were taught about “Over-Population” and “Pollution”.

We seemed to have moved forward with the pollution issue but everyone stopped talking about over-popuation. The fact that there are so many more people today is at the core of many of our problems.

I don’t know if anything can help traffic, over crowded schools, water shortages, housing, energy consumption and getting a reservation at a NY restaurant other than…..less people.

But less people looks like an impossibility….so for now let’s just NOT prohibit a left turn onto Beverly Hills.