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.
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.