Developer Charles Cohen Promises to Work with the Community on Proposed MTA Project

Charles Cohen, owner of the Pacific Design Center, assured the West Hollywood City Council tonight that he is committed to engaging the community in developing plans for possible construction of a residential and commercial project on the site now occupied by the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) bus maintenance and operation facility.

Charles S. Cohen
Charles S. Cohen

Cohen, whose Cohen Bros. company is based in New York City but who himself also maintains an apartment in West Hollywood, said he sees the project he hopes to construct on the MTA site as becoming a “center of civic life” for West Hollywood. Cohen said it will add to the city’s pedestrian-friendly atmosphere by including restaurants and paseos, or pedestrian walkways.

As conceived, the project would include two high-rise towers and an 800-seat open air amphitheatre. The project would have 600,000 square feet of residential/hotel space, 400,000 square feet of office space 120,000 square feet of retail shops, a 2,500-seat movie theater complex, the amphitheatre and parking for 3,000 cars. It would be built on 10.4 acres — equivalent to ten football fields — on the southeast corner Santa Monica and San Vicente boulevards.

Current plans also propose an underground facility for the MTA buses, an expanded West Hollywood Sheriff’s Station and potentially a 50,000- to 70,000-square foot replacement for the current West Hollywood City Hall.

Last year Cohen Brothers Realty Corp. of California signed an agreement with the MTA and with Los Angeles County that gave it the exclusive right for two years (with a possible 12-month extension) to negotiate deals to build the massive complex.

Cohen’s comments came as the city’s Community Development Project released to the Council a memo raising several concerns about the proposed project. Concerns raised in that memo include:

• Its impact on traffic flow,
• The size of its proposed buildings, which would include more than one million square feet of space for a hotel, apartments, offices, stores, a movie theatre and an open-air amphitheatre.
• Its lack of any pedestrian walkways,
• The possibility that it would, by its size, overwhelm the small nearby businesses catering in the gay community in the area known as Boystown, and
• The possibility that it might inhibit the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) from ever installing a rail station on the property or running a rail line from Santa Monica Boulevard south to Cedars-Sinai Medical Center.

Lauren Meister, a resident of the nearby West Hollywood West neighborhood, urged the Council to seek more proposals for use of the site. “My hope is that West Hollywood and the county do not settle on ‘bigger, faster, louder’,” she said.  Steve Martin, a former City Council member, said the project would have a negative impact on traffic and on the small businesses in the nearby Boystown gay nightlife district.

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Guy Privaton (@guyprivaton)

This MTA thing is a bad idea. WeHo is a “homey” community. It needs to stay that way. On a side note, I have to politely disagree with any positive comments about those ugly buildings ruining the skyline… From Runyon canyon, I look back at WeHo to have a “spiritual view” and that eyesore design center completely ruins it. I would say a 100 ft phallus tower in the smack center of the city would be less shocking or out of place than the color and shape of those hideous buildings! Sorry to be crude but the designer of those… Read more »

ambiguousbodywork
5 years ago

I enjoy the view from Runyon canyon also! WH is on it’s way to becoming the next new gay Las Vegas.

Chris Sanger
Chris Sanger
6 years ago

The City Hall parking lot was built mainly to add needed parking for the whole neighborhood, not just for the day time needs in the building.

Again, this project is not going anywhere. It is oversize and there won’t be much or any support for what is proposed among the present or future members. People here way overestimate the influence campaign funding has on members. It just gets their foot in the door, but anyone following proposed ventures in the city knows many get rejected or are severely modified.

Steve Martin
Steve Martin
6 years ago

Sure this is an ugly, dead area along Santa Monica Blvd. But be careful what ask for. The project being proposed is huge and will not only create gridlock on Santa Monica, it will totally change the nature of Boys’ Town. Does no one find it odd that Cohen’s lobbyist, Steve Afriat, is talking about putting up a new City Hall in one of the two 12 story towers? Has there been any public discussion about relocating City Hall? Interesting that Afriat also runs the re-election campaigns of John Duran and Jeff Prang and is currently raising money for Prang’s… Read more »

R Crane
R Crane
6 years ago

The PDC is a gigantic multi-story ghost town, and the city wants its owner’s input on important new development? Good luck…

B Gates
B Gates
6 years ago

The transportation corridor along SMB and through Hollywood requires a presence in the area that won’t force the MTA to transport equipment (usually empty) to the revenue service area. Division 7 was designed and for the most part actually succeeds as a mostly invisible entity that does employ so many people. Most other divisions around the LA basin are big and industrial complexes, while Div 7 masks most of it from the public in a very efficient way. Building a underground complex to house all the buses and service facilities might be a serious undertaking but it definitely should not… Read more »

TimF
TimF
6 years ago

No amphitheater, no multiplex cinema. No more office space while the red building sits empty. Too many hotels already going up near by. Just some apartments, condos, retail, city hall, and sherifs station. Oh and plan for a subway station at that intersection.

Paul
Paul
6 years ago
Reply to  TimF

Didn’t the present area West Hollywood city hall is located just build a million dollar parking structure? What a huge waste of money if they move to the purposed architecture at the MTA bus station. City hall need to stay where they are now. They gutted out that building years ago and moved city hall from the location Trader Joe’s market is now across the street from 24 hour fitness.

Paul
Paul
6 years ago

The green emerald building kind of goes with the emerald city where Dorothy went to meet Oz.

JMH
JMH
6 years ago

All I ask is that the new development not be Yellow. Mr. Cohen must have taken a class on primary colors and wants to develop this whole block into an elementary school.

Paul
Paul
6 years ago

How about the yellow brick road? Could be complete with a beautiful landscaping tree’s civic auditorium, classy recyclable water fountains or streams like what Santa Monica did with the open land next to Santa Monica city hall. They build a beautiful park filled with drout friendly plants etc…… We don’t need large ugly sky scrapers in West Hollywood.

joetheplummber
joetheplummber
6 years ago

Mr. Cohen has impeccable taste in suits. If he can bring a project to the City that is as stylish as he is is tasteful in his dress, then we would have a 4th gem to complement the red the green and the blue.

r79
r79
6 years ago

Hey Cohen,

Learn something from Frank Gehry and do it right. http://curbed.com/archives/2014/10/07/foster-gehry-battersea-new-interior-renderings.php

r79
r79
6 years ago

Green space needed with walking areas for visitors, not just tenants. Character buildings, not boxes. Match it with Sunset/La Cienega James Hotel Project or a village style project )maybe some old Spanish architecture would be nice. However, modern is more likely due to PDC. The city needs something that looks like a lot of thought was put into it, not just a mega complex mini mall project. It’s amazing how the “creative city” is so not creative when it comes to development. Why can’t this city attract some true architects that know how to uplift a city and create a… Read more »