WeHo Planning Commission to Consider Liquor Permit for Rooftop Restaurant on Melrose

The West Hollywood Planning Commission will consider a proposal Thursday to allow a restaurant planned for the roof of a building at 8715 Melrose Avenue at San Vicente to serve alcoholic beverages.

8715 Melrose Ave.
8715 Melrose Ave.

The restaurant, Catch Melrose, would focus on seafood and be located on the roof terrace, or third floor, of the building. Its request for a permit to serve alcohol is opposed by area residents who say they were promised by Jason Illoulian of Faring Capital, the project’s developer, that there would be no rooftop restaurant.

The City Council in 2012 approved construction of the 23,000-square-foot building, which has two levels of underground parking. Its 9,700 square foot rooftop terrace then was designated as a showroom for outdoor furniture. But in March of last year, the city’s development staff approved permits allowing a wholesale design showroom proposed for the second floor and the roof to be converted into a restaurant. Under that permit, the restaurant can operate from 6 p.m. to 2 a.m. Mondays through Fridays and from 8 a.m. to 2 a.m. on the weekends and holidays. The city’s staff recommends that the restaurant be able to serve alcohol until 1:30 a.m. every day of the week. An acoustic consultant recommended glass barriers at least seven feet in height and restricting live music. Those measures and others, the consultant said, would keep sound from the restaurant from being audible to residents on nearby Rangely Avenue.

Mariah and Marcel Fontijn, who live nearby on Rangely, have objected to the city granting the alcohol permit and allowing the restaurant. Mariah Fontijn noted that originally the project was authorized by the Planning Commission because it was to be a wholesale showroom. In her objection to the project, she noted that the Planning Commission’s May 3, 2013, minutes specify that “there would be no extended hour activities on the rooftop.”

“Suddenly, a rooftop restaurant with extended hours has been approved by the city, and the only outstanding item to be reviewed by the planning commission is a liquor license,” Fontijn said in an email to WEHOville. “Faring Capital is a major developer in our city – and they are obviously not someone we can trust. They are sneaky (e.g. Norms on La Cienega) and out to maximize their profits.”

Fontijn’s mention of Norms is a reference to a controversy generated by Faring Capital’s acquisition of that Googie-style building on La Cienega Boulevard. Preservations have mounted a campaign to preserve the building even though Jason Illoulian has said he does not plan to demolish it.

Illoulian, who lives on Rangely Avenue, said he sympathizes with the concerns expressed by the Fontijns. “Faring Capital representatives have repeatedly attempted to reach out to the Fontijns, but they have not wanted to discuss the MCUP (minor conditional use permit) with us,” he said. “Hopefully, we can meet before the hearing and address their issues in a meaningful way.

Thankfully, several other residents on Rangely have communicated with us, and we have designed the project to be very sensitive to them. By engaging acoustical and lighting experts, the project has protections above and beyond any other neighboring restaurants. Catch has been carefully vetted and have a stellar reputation with the communities where their restaurants are located.”

The Planning Commission will meet at 6:30 p.m. at the City Council Chambers at 625 N. San Vicente Blvd. south of Santa Monica.

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Disco Dan
Disco Dan
5 years ago

It was 4 to 1.

Chris Sanger
Chris Sanger
5 years ago

DD – was the vote unanimous, or split?

Disco Dan
Disco Dan
5 years ago

The Planning Commission has approved the roof top restaurant but with conditions. The Commission also acknowledge the egregious (my word) error made by an employee at City Hall who went by the book in approving the restaurant due to its size. The Commission wants to ensure that this does not happen again.

Steve Martin
Steve Martin
5 years ago

While we have learned to be wary of the “bait & switch” when it comes to development in West Hollywood, it is really difficult to envision how anyone on Rangely would be able to hear any noise from a roof top restaurant on the northwest corner of San Vicente and Melrose. If the restaurant is open when the retail is closed I don’t see an issue with parking. If there are problems, the hours can (and should be restricted). But residents have reason to be concerned that the City may approve other roof top restaurants on some of the other… Read more »

Lynn
Lynn
5 years ago

Jim: If today it is on your neighbors doorstep, tomorrow it may be on yours.

PT
PT
5 years ago

As a residence of WeHo, and someone who has been looking at the eyesore of on-going construction on corner of Melrose and San Vicente everyday for the past 6-7 years, I must say to all of you beware of the developers and how the City (& its Councils) are bending over to accommodate them. All of us who made the choice to live in this neighborhood, did so because we loved the vibrant city life and all that WeHo has to offer. A walkable, diverse, and rich community with a wealth of choices as far as art and design, restaurants… Read more »

Jim
Jim
5 years ago

Disco, to answer your questions, I most definitely voted in every weho election the past 5 years. I provide volunteer legal work (not necessarily in weho, where I’m a home owner, but nearby). I’ve monitored the city council fairly closely and have observed some recent meetings. As for the perpetual opponents of development and/or commerce (as I’d call them), it’s certainly their right to wish I go away (as I suspect they might). I suppose that’s why we have elections.

Disco Dan
Disco Dan
5 years ago

Jim – Maybe it’s their right to wish you would go away. And many concerned citizens have full time jobs and yet make the effort to attend meetings because of their concern about the future of the city. What have you done lately to better WeHo and did you vote in the last two municipal elections? Just curious.

Mariah Fontijn
5 years ago

My husband spoke on the phone with Mr. Illoulian’s representative, Darren Embry, on June 11th, 15th, and 17th for an hour to hear his proposals and to voice our concerns. We also spoke with other residents who met with Mr. Embry and Illoulian on the phone and in person. We asked if they would meet us half-way and reduce the hours of operation or consider renting to a different tenant. Their response was to promise more noise mitigation. The applicant received an over-the-counter change of use from a design showroom to a rooftop restaurant with extended hours without the knowledge… Read more »

Jim
Jim
5 years ago

Actually, Disco Dan, Lester is right. There is obviously a real contingency of folks who will reflexively oppose any new entertainment venture, regardless of the details, logistics, or demand, because (1) they’re philosophically opposed to such things and (2) they have plenty of time to go to every city council and planning commission meeting. Although that’s their right, it’s also my right to wish that they’d go away.

Disco Dan
Disco Dan
5 years ago

Lester – “People need to chill out or move to the suburbs…” reminds me of the mantra, that if you don’t like the United States (as in the McCarthy era of the 50s, opposition to the Vietnam conflict, etc.) then get out of the US. I suggest you move as close to this building as possible and IF the restaurant is approved, then post your experiences here. Peace out !

Lester
Lester
5 years ago

The nearest residence to this building are a block awa and hardly within earshot of any noise a lovely rooftop restaurant and bar could generate. People need to chill out or move to the suburbs, lour c