What Should West Hollywood Do with the Walgreens Lot on Santa Monica Boulevard?

8120 Santa Monica Blvd., the site of the proposed Walgreens project
8120 Santa Monica Blvd., the site of the proposed Walgreens project

It’s hard to imagine anything more valuable in West Hollywood than a lot almost one acre in size on Santa Monica Boulevard at the intersection with Crescent Heights Boulevard in the heart of the city. The City of West Hollywood has negotiated with Walgreens to purchase that lot, on which Walgreens once had planned to build a drugstore and other shops and 20 apartments. The City Council is likely to decide next month whether to proceed with the $7 million purchase.

If the city buys the lot, what should it do with it? There are some obvious choices: Build a parking structure. Build apartments for low-income and moderate-income residents. As we all know, there is a need for both.

But WEHOville would like to hear more creative suggestions from the local residents who are our readers. Some examples to stimulate your thinking:

Should the city, whose economy is heavily dependent on tourism, build an “incubator” office building to house digital startups, which now call places such as Venice or Santa Monica home? An incubator could offer a subsidized rent to startups that meet certain qualifications (number of employees, size of investment) and offer accounting, legal and other business services at a discount. There are several digital startups launched by West Hollywood residents that have had to locate elsewhere for lack of office space and services. Should the Creative City take steps to foster the sort of “creative economy” that Richard Florida, the urban theorist, says is essential for a city’s long term growth and success?

What about using the Walgreen’s property as an athletic park? The city is spending more than $10 million an acre to redevelop West Hollywood Park into a beautiful monument. But while the park will have tennis courts and a swimming pool (and a reduced number of basketball courts) and continue to offer athletic activities for children, it wasn’t designed to accommodate the half dozen or more softball, soccer, kickball and other gay sports leagues, many of whose adult members are West Hollywood residents and must travel to other cities to play. In fact, the first annual WeHo Sports Festival, which the City Council recently allocated $25,000 to launch in September, will take place at UCLA because there is no place to host it in West Hollywood.

While West Hollywood needs housing for the elderly and the disabled, it also needs housing for young people who find our city increasingly unaffordable, in part because of strong resistance to those who already own homes here to building more housing, which is necessary to drive down rents. One solution raised by some residents is construction of so-called “micro-units,” apartments of as little as 200 square feet. Such units are being built in other cities around the country to house single young people. Their small size means a developer can build two to three times as many units as would normally be the case on a single lot, which means the units can rent for less.

And then there’s the possible combination of uses — a parking structure with a park on its roof, for example. Or an underground parking structure with micro units or an incubator building above it. Other residents such as Josh Kurpies already have offered creative ideas in comments to a story published on July 16.

WEHOville invites you to offer your suggestions here for consideration by your fellow¬†residents and City Council members in the form of comments on this article. We’ll post all suggestions. But because our goal is to stimulate creative thinking, we won’t publish criticism of the suggestions of others. Feel free to applaud someone’s suggestion. But if you don’t like an idea someone else has offered, come up with a better one on your own and let us hear it!


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Rover123
Guest
Rover123

Okay everyone, There are some great creative ideas that readers have published comments to the redevelopment regarding the “almost one acre lot” at santa monica b/vd and crescent heights. I live on Laurel Ave just below fountain and have for over 19 years at this apartment. I have seen buildings come and go in my neck of the woods. The last thing West Hollywood needs on this overly exaggerated one acre is any structured housing, business, or a non-profit youth center. This would exponentially add more people, more cars, more pollution to an area that would lessen the quality of… Read more »

Creative
Guest
Creative

There’s plenty of space at this location for a few things:

What others have mentioned…
(1) Slightly modified traffic (mostly safety improvements at intersection)
(2) Multiple layers of underground parking
(3) Rooftop community activity space
(4) Satellite USPS office

+ New suggestions…
Land swap with incentives — move Gelson’s to a new store (ground level) at this location. City acquires Gelson’s existing location for expanded city hall/community center complex.

James Francis
Guest
James Francis

We need affordable housing. With rise in rents and landlords opting out of rent control and section 8 all together this is problematic. Units are being replaced with condos! West Hollywood is only now using it’s affordable trust that went unused for so long with not being used for 20 years! Horvath and Duran admitted this in council which I admire when AirBnB is causing landlords to sublease and drive up e cost of rents. I’ve seen rents go up 100 dollars a year on the east end alone, and from 1100-1150 to 1600-1700 now is a big jump after… Read more »

skywatcher888
Guest
skywatcher888

I agree with a lot of the other statements here. A surface parking lot to replace actual businesses that had to shut down so developers could make a buck is a shame. What I’d like to see West Hollywood build (and build against a lot of crying by some well-healed invested interests) is anything that would also include a Movie Theatre. An entertainment complex that would serve the city’s needs would be well-worth having. Not only could it specialize in community-based films in addition to main popular fare, but it could also showcase local talent and older “classic” films. The… Read more »

WeHoVaudivillian
Guest
WeHoVaudivillian

This area (if purchased by the city) should me made to build low income housing, a public park, or some other kind of civic amenity for the benefit of residents. Surface parking, or a parking structure (and the tens of millions that would cost), would be the most retrograde possible step at this point. The intersection is already one of the busiest in the city and adding parking there will exacerbate the already heavy traffic and make the city even more hostile to pedestrians and other non automobile using residents. And the idea to convert it into a turn lane… Read more »

Simon
Guest
Simon

Oh yeah, surface parking. Way to beautify WeHo. Go back to 1950.

Flores St.
Guest
Flores St.

I would like to see it become a park permanently, but in the meantime, I agree with the suggestion to make it a surface parking lot. Might as well have it go to good use while we wait for final decisions. I would suggest that might be a good idea for all our vacant lots! It can’t be that expensive to implement and would do a world of good, even if just temporarily.

Mike
Guest
Mike

What I think is sad is the fact that those businesses that were there had to move for nothing.

BC
Guest
BC

I’m ok with a parking structure (Center City needs the additional parking), but let’s add a cool rooftop park with a movie screen and have a summer screening series, and put a rock climbing wall along one side.

Eric Wlasak
Guest
Eric Wlasak

With the increase of development and gentrification that is happening in Weho, I would like to see a nod to the gay significance of this city. I stood at the corner of Havenhurst and SMB for the Pride Parade, and I kept thinking about how all of the gay nonprofit organizations that help our community are struggling for funding all the while trying to provide services to everyone along the parade route. Such a prominent intersection would be a great place to house some gay nonprofits that have been displaced over the years or that may be struggling to continue.… Read more »

Ulrik Neumann
Guest

I think West Hollywood needs a nice community garden east of LA Cienega . For years and years it had been a struggle to update the facades and over look of the neighborhood. For some odd reason all the money and beauty ended up West of LaCienega Blvd . The tocation would be great to serve as a reminder to the gay community. Maybe a Farmers Market like on Fairfax would be great . Anything that would get people out of their homes and mingle again.

we'Ho
Guest
we'Ho

We need a modern bathhouse at the end of a meandering, dimly lit maze.

Ulrik Neumann
Guest

Since there is so much building going on in West Hollywood , my suggestion would be, that the lot should be turned into a big community park .