WeHo Council Recommends MTA Not Extend Negotiation Contract with Charles Cohen

mta, charles cohen, pdc, pacific design center
A rendering of the City Hall/Sheriff’s Station building adjacent to the PDC Red building as seen from San Vicente Boulevard (Gruen Associates)

The West Hollywood City Council last night endorsed the recommendation of city staffers that it petition the Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) to not extend its contract to negotiate with developer Charles Cohen on the use of the MTA’s bus storage lot on Santa Monica Boulevard.

In 2013, the MTA signed an agreement with Cohen Brothers Realty Corporation of California giving it the exclusive right to negotiate a redevelopment of the 10.4-acre site. That agreement is set to expire in April.

Cohen Brothers, which also owns the adjacent Pacific Design Center on Melrose Avenue and San Vicente Boulevard, has proposed building 335 residential units plus 67 apartments for elderly or other people in need. It’s “Design Village” project also would include a 250-room hotel, a 680-seat outdoor amphitheatre and a movie theatre. Other elements include night clubs and bars, restaurants with outdoor dining and 400,000 square feet of office space. A proposed new Sheriff’s Station/City Hall would occupy 100,000 square feet. Fronting Santa Monica Boulevard would be the hotel and three tall office buildings (one housing City Hall), with helipads on their roofs. The project also would include two underground MTA bus parking levels and a floor for bus washing and maintenance. All-in-all, it would be larger than other L.A. shopping centers such as The Grove or Americana at Brand in Glendale.

“A project of this scope and magnitude needs to be led by the City and its partner agencies of Metro and the County of Los Angeles,” DeWolfe said in her memo. “The process under by which such a significant publicly owned site is envisioned should be inclusive and transparent, and led by the community rather than the private sector.”

DeWolfe also recommended that that any future project on the 10.4-acre site include rail service. “The site is a prime location for a future multi-modal and Metro transit station, including light rail, subway and /or enhanced bus service,” she said.

Her recommendations were unanimously endorsed by the Council members. Mayor John D’Amico said that while the possibility of a mass transit station in West Hollywood is not on the immediate horizon, any use of the site should envision that. Councilmember John Duran said he had told Cohen in the past that the site should include a public theatre and a civic gathering space.

In a letter to the Council, Cohen described plans for the project as a “starting point” to begin the process of an environmental and public review.

“We are still in the early stages of a process that will give you, city residents, Metro, the Sheriff and all stakeholders numerous opportunities to shape the proposed project, and of course nothing can be approved without your approval,” Cohen said.


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luca d
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luca d

i am of mixed feelings about the mta land use. i love the idea of something beautiful, architecturally striking, but i’m certain, as i think JONAS is suggesting, that ‘gay’ west hollywood, is in fade mode. the more the city develops, the more the gay community is in retreat. young people just can’t afford to live here, and the older fellas and gals won’t retire here.
this city is more brentwood-santa monica than 1990 west hollywood.

Rudolf Martin
Guest
Rudolf Martin

I agree with Todd Bianco’s assessment of our current infrastructure. I’d love to see how we would handle a fully rented PDC but I rather enjoy them as they are as an art installation.

And RIley has it right: This is not the end but the beginning of a process. The idea that the city council just “stopped the project” is absurd.

Jonas
Guest
Jonas

I want assurances that his project won’t dilute the gay population and businesses.

kayaytche
Guest
kayaytche

Agreed, Todd – particularly with your last paragraph. That the red building is intentionally being kept vacant until an entertainment company will come in and rent the whole space is a real shame. It’s a lovely building and deserves to have tenants!

Riley
Guest
Riley

How naïve are we? If I were a gambling man, I would put money on the idea that Cohen didn’t want the contract extended and that Afriat was up there at the meeting asking for the contract to be extended so it looks like the council voted against a developer/lobbyist. If Cohen WANTED that contract, he would have it. He’s already got two partially filled buildings and one big empty one, why would he want more space he can’t rent out? Just one scenario. Anyone have a better one?

Chris Sanger
Guest
Chris Sanger

Those were shameless. I’m a 2-dog caretaker, totally happy with how the city incorporates them into the life of the city. The idea that the council needs an animal advocate – that is insulting to voters. Her campaign is clearly effective – I expect she’ll win along with the two incumbents – but she is a very calculating politician, not St. Joan of Arc of the Rich New Residents as she usually portrays herself.

JJ
Guest
JJ

@ Chris…All I ever get from the Meister campaign are flyers from her dog.
=)

Todd Bianco
Guest

For some reason, the Cohen Brothers seem to think that this is their project to develop and they’ll let us know when they have some final ideas to run by the community. Maybe it’s time that the City pressures the County and MTA to enter into an exclusive relationship with THE CITY and then the City can explore more scaled and reasonable development of this site. Let the City invite other developers to bid on a project once it’s parameters are set by the community. I still don’t know how anything massive can be considered with no public transit component… Read more »

Chris Sanger
Guest
Chris Sanger

And here I get a flyer from Lauren Meister promising to stop the project. Oops. I guess the current council managed to achieve this with her help. You’d never get the impression from her that anyone else has the same issues with this that she has. Sort of undermines the whole premise of her campaign.