Walgreens Offers 8120 Santa Monica Blvd. Lot to WeHo for $7 Million

Walgreens has agreed to sell the lot on the corner of Santa Monica Boulevard and Crescent Heights Boulevard to the City of West Hollywood for $7 million.

Illustration of the proposed 8120 Santa Monica Blvd. project (Architects Lorcan O'Herlihy)
Illustration of the proposed 8120 Santa Monica Blvd. project (Architects Lorcan O’Herlihy)

The City Council will be asked at its meeting on Monday to approve the purchase. To date city officials have said they are not sure how the property will be used. It is nearly one acre in size, and its location on the south side of Santa Monica Boulevard makes it a very prominent site.

If it purchases the site, the city will be responsible for reducing the impact of dry cleaning solvent in the ground and of soil vapor that might be able to enter two housing units on Crescent Heights Boulevard.

While it is unclear how the property will be used, residents have repeatedly asked for more parking in the city and more park space, both of which could be provided on that lot. The purchase would bring to an end a 10-year effort by the drugstore chain to develop the property, where Walgreens had planned to build a shopping plaza with a drug store and other shops and 20 apartments.

After Walgreens acquired the property it upset neighbors by forcing out a number of local shops and restaurants and a church. Among the more popular, which moved to new locations nearby, were Marco’s and Tasty Donuts. Neighbors also pressed the city to demand that Walgreens and its developer, Pacific Development Partners, conduct an expensive and lengthy review of the potential environmental impact of the project. Some City Council members also expressed concern about the impact of the project and its design, given that it occupies a prominent place on Santa Monica Boulevard, which is West Hollywood’s “Main Street.”

The decision by Walgreen’s to try to negotiate a sale follows an announcement by the drugstore chain this spring that it was closing 200 of its 8,232 drugstores in the United States and the U.S. Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico.

The Council will consider whether to approve the purchase at its meeting on Monday night, which takes place at 6:30 p.m. at the City Council Chambers, 625 N. San Vicente Blvd. south of Santa Monica.

    1. I believe there are zoning restrictions that would negate most ‘new idea’ suggestions for the lot.

  1. Thanks Josh, for an outlook based on possibilities rather than prohibitions. The Crescent Heights / SMB intersection is a special place for many reasons already highlighted in the two Northside pocket parks including Matthew Shepard Triangle, The Transgender Memorial, a tribute to early AIDS crisis fasters who encamped there for several months, and commemorative trees planted in memory of beloved community heroes. The environmental concerns are real, but if they could “fix” the Faith Plating lot for housing, doing the right thing here to provide for a community use will be its own reward.

  2. it is not that difficult to figure out the cost of the clean up. The city locks the property up with a deal contingent upon remediation of the toxicity issue. A soils engineering report will solve this. Probable cost for a thorough site survey is possibly around 50K at the most. Not a bad expense for a piece of property on SM and Crescent Heights. Almost all properties like this over the years have had some sort of toxins leaching into the soil. The question i have is why does Walgreens feel so generous to sell the property to the city at below market?

  3. Wow! A billion gold coins could fall from the sky (floating softly to the ground atop little soft pillows – so there are no injuries or property damage of course) the same morning a cure for cancer was announce and many of the commenters here would predict John Heilman and John Duran would likely increase the cost to purchase the cure so high that even a resident of weho with a bunch of gold coins couldn’t afford. What is with these people?!?

    I have no idea what the actual value of that lot is compared to the $7million “deal” they’re offering the City, but if Dani Shaker’s estimate is even close AND we get the answer to Rudolf Martin’s question about the actual clean up costs then we know whether its a deal or not and if it is a good investment, then the city should move forward with the purchase, period.

    To suggest the City has plans for developing that specific property already lined up and ready to go is pure cockamamy – has a city councilmember ever thought during a meeting with the developer about what he or she would like to go in that location, very likely, that’s what they should be thinking in those meetings. Has a planning commission provided feedback to the developer about what they’d like to see at that location, very likely, that’s what they should be providing the developer if we are to expect the developer to adjust their plans to meet the communities needs and project acceptance. But all of those comments and flow of ideas were constrained to the context of what the developer was proposing – if the City owns the property, that all changes and ideas never discussed can now be put on the table – further down the road.

    Once the City Manager learned of the offer to purchase the property, I’m sure he has ideas in the back of his mind of what would meet the needs of the City and have a positive impact on the city’s economic sustainability into the future – that is his job to be thinking about these types of things and he’s been witness to enough public outreach campaigns to know what the residents value. Because he’s smart, and already proven he’s an excellent steward of our city, his recommendation to Council (assuming this turns out to be a good deal) will be to purchase the property and begin the cleanup, in the meantime organize meetings to discuss what the city would like to do with this new land.

    The idea the City only should buy property if they have plans for it is ridiculous as well. Forget about the word “development” for a second and think about the word “investment”. As a good steward of the City’s finances, you have to also make good investments. Whether those investments are being made on a foreign soil on an innovative technology that more efficiently desalinates water or here in our own backyard on the purchase of an empty lot, at the end of the day, I’m most concerned about what those two investments yield. As stated before, i don’t know much about real estate, but I hear it can be a fairly good long term investment (Hell! Good short term investment too if the City gets a great deal even with cleaning it up!)

    We’ll definitely have to set some ground rules if you nay-sayers are gong to play this game, but if the purchase happens, lets use this as an opportunity for us to come together as a community for a rare moment, not to oppose a project, not to find ways to mitigate its impact on traffic, not to try and keep from losing a bit of our WeHo identity…..let’s come together to brainstorm about what we want to see, what we can do to maybe event reduce traffic, something we all support as a community. As I said before, we are always discussing things in the context of what the property owner wants, this is different than those talks, and it’s different than even our discussions about WeHo & Plummer park where we consider which buildings to keep and what trees to move — this is a clean slate and I think we can do something great with it.

    If the City does purchase & clean up and I had my way: I’d first and foremost figure out the world’s best practice for improving the Crescent Heights/Santa Monica Blvd intersection. Only after that would I then think long and hard how I could use it in a way to entice Metro to commit building a subway line through WeHo, possibly selling to them for use as a subway station with some sort of stipulation that some sort of mixed-use development that was heavy on low and moderate income housing and public open space similar (in size) to the two northern corners of the intersection – tenants would be provided Metro transit passes at no charge, business would be required to purchase Metro passes, carpool services or comparable plan for their employees and prohibited from purchasing or reimbursing employees for parking so there would be no need for new parking spaces except for a few car share vehicles that tenants would be allowed to use for free for a limited amount of time each month and free bike share for the tenants.

    What would you like to see? (let’s be creative and say something that hasn’t already been said, i.e. parking garage) 😉

  4. Here comes, once again, the thoroughly disproved idea that WeHo’s population is increasing. Where does this zombie lie come from? It has remained within a narrow range, up and down slightly, over the 30+ years of our cityhood. When I see this repeated in someone’s arguments, I immediately doubt anything else being claimed.

  5. Do we know what the approximate costs for a thorough cleanup would be? Surely we wouldn’t purchase a property without having calculated that?

    If we do decide to buy this lot we have another opportunity to have the discussion how we want to grow as a city. Do we continue to expand the car-centric infrastructure? Then we surely need more parking. Or are we going towards urban by increasing density? Then we need bike lanes, wider sidewalks, more adequate public transportation. We can’t continue to have it both ways.

    Correction on Robo parking: the current cost is $18 million, so far just a 50% increase in price since it was approved as a $12 million project. It will go higher. Operation and maintenance (easily another half million per year!) are not included.

    Also: the absurd assumption that we don’t have to pay for borrowed money (bond financing) is a popular talking point circulated by those who like to do the borrowing. It is also a falsity. The fact is that we who finance this city (residents, businesses and patrons of businesses) will have to pay every penny plus interest over time.

  6. @jonathan simmons. Sometimes when I read the comments on Wehoville I think all of you guys are members of the Republican party because cearly you know nothing about basic economics or the facts behind what you’re talking about. For example, the robo garage will cost the residents of West Hollywood next to nothing. Why? That’s because the city issued bonds to pay for it. What are bonds? That means the city borrowed the money, and it is going to pay what it borrowed back from the money it charges people who park their cars in the garage. Can’t get a better deal than that.

    There in fact are requirements for developers to provide parking. You really should read the city’s development codes before writing this sort of nonsense. And developers have to meet those requirements.

    There has been an infintesimal population increase in West Hollywood since it was founded 30 years ago. The city’s community survey found that WeHo’s population in 2010 actually was down five percent from its population in 1990. A state study showed a slight increase –1,400 or so people, or 4 percent — in 2015 from 2010.

    The city’s traffic issues mostly involve thoroughfares such as Sunset and Santa Monica Boulevard. Not much we can do about that, unless we want to set up a border patrol on LaBrea to bar people who aren’t West Hollywood home owners from driving through the city to communities on the Westside.

    The city no longer is proposing an underground parking garage at Plummer Park.

    I could go on and on, but I guess I’ve learned that NIMBY’s who don’t want low income people living near them — most of the commenters on Wehoville — aren’t interested in reading facts.

    “Building a parking structure between Fairfax and crescent heights is unlikely. Would require that some structures be demolished. Don’t seeing anyone asking us to tear down the Silver Spoon or French Market sites to build parking.”

    Now Silver Spoon is gone, French Market is likely to be demolished—–and that parking structure will probably be built. Funny.

    1. @Tom

      Good observation, but:
      1. The $16 million robo garage (and the proposed under ground lot at plummer park) are for the purpose of creating “NEW PARKING SPACES WITHINp THE CITY AND FOR THE ABILITY TO TRANSFER THOSE NEW ‘parking credits’ TO NEAR BY BUSINESSES …. SO AS TO RELIEVE THEM OF HAVING TO DO IT.

      2. Well the transferable parking credits was written right before John Heilman sneaked through a big 25 year plan for weho, that would give him the ability to get the zoning restrictions lightened to allow for all the new mega mixed use complexes we see.

      3. So on city owned property, using $16 million of city money, the credits allow the new La Brea BOX apts to have more units, be taller, have less set back, and all in all, be as big as they have become.

      4. The developer is supposed to be creating (and paying for the land and construction) of these new parking spots, to get the zoning increase benefits, (a trade of the State allows to encourage developers to invest in the city, not the city to invest to increase the developers profits with more units to sell/rent)

      5. After the first 25 years of weho city hood, there has been a population increase, and an intentional decrease in street parking ON PURPOSE …. so residents and no-nothing visitors, all get very expensive parking tickets by either no where else to park to get home, or too confusing street signs to understand.

      6. Thus the revenue from all us schmos living in weho and getting parking tickets, are funding the $16 million robo garage (parking inside only for cityhall use … not residents) which in turn profits the mega developers by being able to build more retail and living space to rent or sell without the paying the legal agreement for them to create new parking spaces.

      Sorry …. it is complicated and not ever discussed …. so we live our lives, while the city council and city manager rob from the avg locals with parking tickets, and give city assets, land wealth to developers. With zero benefit to the residents, or the city and definitly NO easment of daily parking nightmares for people living in weho.

      Thus there was recent ticket fine increases, increased parking patrols, and extending parking meter times (not for the coins, but for the tickets from expired meters after normal business hours, like the rest of the civilized world expects).

      Sorry for the bad news. (btw – never pay attention to Duran’s words, he is not fully “there’ and says whatever …. whenever …. and nothing com3s of it.)

  8. As a property owner in WeHo, $7mm for nearly an acre of land on SMB is the buy of the century. In today’s market that property is worth close to $30-$40 million. Great buy City of WeHo! With the current City management, I am confident the City of WeHo will be the most desired city to live, play and work in.

  9. Dig up the contaminated soil and put in a parking structure.There are clubs,bars,restaurants and many other businesses which would benefit and would draw more customers with its easy accessibility.Parking is a problem everywhere and with the construction of all these mega apartment blogs popping up,it is becoming overpopulated with vehicles and parking is getting worse and worse

    1. Logical first thought. But you know, that intersection has those two ‘Islands’ of park like space and is used only lightly. There is always Plummer Park down the street.

  10. THE CITY should not go around buying “property” without “knowing” what their plans for the enormous purchase price.

    The City Council and City Manager are not the owners of the City nor it assets for which it can choose to spend on buying property without any “known” plans for it use. They are elected custodians of the Management and Running of the City with Fiduciary Duties to the residents, and a whole set of applicable California Codes they must comply with.

    Personally, I think “The City” has very specific plans for the purchase of the lot. If they really don’t, it seems a case of possible dereliction of their elected and employed positions.

    If there are ‘secret plans’ for the use of the proposed purchase of the lot, on the surface, it is disrespectful to the residents.

    Further, we just implemented and 25 year plan for the future of the city. Dropping a bomb …. that is not part of the Plan is unbelievable,

    PROFESSIONALLY (retired now) the city should RUN from buying that lot (any sane person should) because of the unknown amount of ground contamination that will have an enormous (at best) cost to remediate, and has been known to lead buyers to bankruptcy with the unbelievable strict liability of the of the Federal Laws.

    I am sure that was a big part of Walgreens changing their minds about the purchase (nothing shady there… it’s business.

    But to buy that lot, while the Council spent years saying they had no way to fund the necessary costs to make “TARA” suitable for public use (as it was donated to the city for that very purpose) seems hypocritical.

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