8550 Santa Monica Blvd. Project Gets Planning Commission Approval

Proposed design for 8550 Santa Monica Blvd. (Aleks Istanbullu Architects)
Proposed design for 8550 Santa Monica Blvd. at West Knoll (Aleks Istanbullu Architects)

EDITOR’S NOTE: An earlier version of this story erred in saying that the 8550 Santa Monica Blvd. project must go before the City Council for final approval. Final approval by the Council is not required. The story has been updated to reflect that.

The West Hollywood Planning Commission last night approved plans for a project on the long-vacant lot at 8550 Santa Monica Blvd. The sole vote against the project came from Commissioner Heidi Shink.

The lot is a little more than half an acre in size. The building planned for it would be three stories high and include a grocery store, a gym/fitness studio, a restaurant/cafe and office space with rooftop parking. The 20,000-square-foot grocery store space would be occupied by Sprouts Farmers Market, a Phoenix-based chain that sells natural and organic food. In addition to the roof, parking would be provided in the existing garage at the building on the site’s west side. The project developer, Michael Talla, owns that building. which houses Capitol Drugs Pharmacy, the LASC clothing store and the 24 Hour Fitness gym.

Empty lot on Santa Monica Blvd. west of West Knoll where the "Sprouts" building will be built
Empty lot on Santa Monica Blvd. west of West Knoll where the “Sprouts” building will be built

The lot has been largely empty since 2010, when a gym located there was demolished. In 2013, the Palms Bar, West Hollywood’s only lesbian-bar, closed and its building was demolished.

In a report to the Planning Commission, the city’s Department of Community Development noted that the project will likely increase traffic on nearby residential streets such as West Knoll Drive, Rugby Drive and Westbourne Drive. It recommended that the developer be required to install traffic bumps on Rugby Drive, a residential street that runs behind the site, to reduce the likelihood that drivers will use Rugby to avoid congestion on Santa Monica Boulevard.

Newly elected City Councilmember Lauren Meister, in a letter to the Community Development Department,  said she was “generally supportive of the project. However I am concerned about traffic circulation, as there will be significant and unavoidable impacts, and the project as proposed would generate traffic that would use nearby residential streets.” Meister suggested the size of the project be reduced by 5,000 square feet and replacing the the gym / fitness space, which would be open until 10 p.m., with office space, which would generate less traffic.

In response, Laurie Yelton of the Community Development Department said the 5,000 square-foot reduction might not provide enough space for the Sprouts store. She also said there would continue to be significant and unavoidable traffic on nearby streets.

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BlueEyedBoy
BlueEyedBoy
5 years ago

I asked only because it has been announced that a new gym has been a part of the plan for this project from the very beginning. This article repeats it in the second paragraph above. I also wondered why they would have two gyms in the same block. But since they are, I am curious for more information on this new place and how it is going to be different from 24 Hour. And while we’re on the subject, I was told by one of the staff at 24 Hour that they have been bought out by some other company… Read more »

kab1200
kab1200
5 years ago
Reply to  BlueEyedBoy

I hope that isn’t true, since I am a 24 Hour member for life.

BlueEyedBoy
BlueEyedBoy
5 years ago

Does anybody know when construction begins, and what gym is going in there? 24 Hour Fitness is just not cuttin’ it anymore, and it’s getting worse. A new upscale gym would be very welcome there.

kab1200
kab1200
5 years ago
Reply to  BlueEyedBoy

BlueEyedBoy, why would you want another overpriced gym to go in there? There are plenty around already. I hope they just expand the 24 Hour Fitness, since it is too small and does not have enough equipment. It was remodeled very nicely a few years ago, but the guys who go there seem to think they do not have to clean up after themselves. Why don’t you just join Equinox if you want to pay a lot for your gym.

butnotrose
5 years ago

@kab1200 I get your point. I live (for 20 years) behind the Ramada. I am just saying “the palms” bar was an landmark and a part of the pre weho gay movement. However it was/is one of the uglestn old storefronts. However, for it’s legacy, that was part of weho. Coming to an unincorporated (run down) part of LA in the years when in was illegal to be gay in la. (my uncle in the 50’s was arrested countless times for being gay. However – my point was with ALL the massive new constructions all over the city of weho,… Read more »

kab1200
kab1200
5 years ago
Reply to  butnotrose

I understand where you are coming from, but, again, this is just an extention to an already existing building. It would not make sense to use a different architectural style. Have you seen the Pali House? That was a newer build and has lots of character. Very nice inside too. The new building will not have any housing, so your point there is moot, and the Hancock building was a timing probelm. The recession was hitting when those were ready to sell. I, for one, would to see the 24 Hour gym expanded, as the current one is too small.… Read more »

kab1200
kab1200
5 years ago

butnotrose- This is not a shopping center, for pity sake. Did you even look at the pictures? They are going to add on to an already existing structure. It will just be an extension of the 24 Hour Fitness building. While I understand your frustration will the design aesthetics, this building is very appropriate for where it is. The Ramada is right across the street, and it is somewhat funky architecture, as well as, the other buildings in that vicinity. There are no classic style buildings right there.

butnotrose
5 years ago

THIS IS JUST PLAIN UGLY! I like modern architecture. But this is not acceptable. HOW ABOUT: reluctantly, the project will be built JUST CHANGE THE FACADE! LOOK AT THE GROVE LOOK AT 1 RODEO LOOK AT NEW YORK, NEW YORK in LAS VEGAS One superstructure, but designed with a facade to appear to be a series of various classic example of store front architecture. It’s not mod. It won’t get modern architecture awards. BUT like the grove et al ….. that turn what could be a massively ugly supersturcture into a street like walking experience that some people may say… Read more »

skywatcher888
skywatcher888
5 years ago

Please DO NOT put traffic bumps on Westbourne (or any other street)!!! They only make driving horrendous! I use that street to get home every day and traffic bumps are only requested by people who DON’T DRIVE or don’t have to drive on the streets they want them on.

Some day, when we’re all grown up, people will stop trying to make other people’s lives miserable so they can stew in the juices of making other people miserable to fit their ideology.

Guy Privaton (@guyprivaton)

Can we assume theyre providing parking in the structure to accommodate expected customers?

kab1200
kab1200
5 years ago

Yes Guy, they are.

Rick Watts
Rick Watts
5 years ago

I totally agree on synching the lights. Re the crosswalks, the city needs to stop doing everything it can to AVOID doing what it SHOULD do (and has agreed to do in at least 3 location), namely take out the yellow flashing lights that can be triggered incessantly with a resultant non-stop parade of pedestrians that slows blvd traffic to a crawl during rush-hour. They need to be upgraded to full red/green traffic lights that are sync he’d to the rest of the street, and thus hold pedestrians curbside until the light changes Re the city buying property for a… Read more »

kab1200
kab1200
5 years ago
Reply to  Rick Watts

Rick Watts, they could not use Eminent Domain to make a dog park, for pity sake. My point was, the have nots always want to tell the haves, what to do. I am glad you agree with me on the Blvd issues.

kab1200
kab1200
5 years ago

I love all the dreamy thoughts of folks on here, and how they think the city can just buy any piece of land they want. This is real life people, do you really think a developer who owns a piece of land is going to sell to the city to make a mini dog park? haha Yeah, not so much. The real traffic issue is not the development, but rather the poorly thought out crosswalks all over Santa Monica Blvd. It would also be nice if the traffic lights were synced better. I just find it so interesting how so… Read more »

Don Azars
Don Azars
5 years ago

To ALL: The concern is not ONLY about the 8550 SMB Building and the traffic problems caused by deliveries and customers, let alone employees. The concern is that there is ANOTHER building being developed to be located across the street replacing the one where Petco is located. It will be a multi-use building and I believe has inadequete parking for residents, employees, customers in the works. AND WAIT THERE’S MORE – another building in the same mode is being planned for SMB near Doheny. Is the Planning Commission dealing with impact on traffic and current residents when considering the plans,… Read more »

Weston
Weston
5 years ago

So, why hasn’t the city government/city council considered buying this property as mini-park on the Boulevard? It would be perfect.

Rick Watts
Rick Watts
5 years ago

PS: We also didn’t move here to live in a city where a 5-minute mistake results in an $80 parking ticket that costs a minimum-wage worker a day and a half of his/her after-tax earnings; or the hours of parking meter enforcement are suddenly increased from 6pm to midnite, seven days a week; or where high-end restauranteurs can buy their way out of parking requirements by “providing” valet parking that takes up an ever-increasing share of on-street parking PUBLIC TAX-PAYER FUNDED parking spaces for exclusive PRIVATE USE. [Are you listening, new City Council and wannabes?] Ya know, while we’re at… Read more »