The West Hollywood City Council will be asked on Monday to approve various measures that will allow the Robertson Lane project to move forward.
Robertson Lane, as proposed, would extend from the site on Robertson currently occupied by the Factory building and its adjacent parking lot all the way west to La Peer Drive. The project would include a 241-room hotel and retail shops. A pedestrian paseo would extend from Robertson to La Peer and be lined by shops and outdoor dining. Its height would range from three to nine stories, or 38 to 114 feet high. It would include 750 underground parking spaces.
The project also would include a major and repositioned portion of the Factory building, which has been designated as eligible for listing on the National Register of Historic Places. Jason Illoulian, whose Faring is partnering with Nathan Goler in developing the project, responded to complaints about initial plans to level the building by agreeing to restore and preserve most of it on the site.
The Factory Building, which stretches between 661-665 Robertson Blvd. and 648 La Peer Drive, is a prefabricated steel building that was assembled in 1929 to house the Mitchell Camera Factory. George Mitchell, the founder of Mitchell Camera, is credited with technological advances in the film and entertainment industry. In 1974, Scott Forbes opened Studio One, the largest and most visible gay discotheque in Southern California, in the Factory building. That has led LGBT history advocates to lobby for preservation of the building.
This paseo (or “Lane”) would be lined with retail and design-oriented businesses as well as outdoor dining and would be capped by plazas accessing the hotel’s main entrance on La Peer, and the repositioned Factory Building along Robertson.
The project would include four restaurants, two of which are associated with the hotel. There would also be a 2,500-square-foot nightclub under the Factory. It would include the existing 10,325-square-foot wholesale design showroom space on the south side of the site.
Illoulian has made numerous changes to the project since it was first presented to the city in 2014. In addition to preserving, renovating and relocating most of the Factory building (at a cost of about $10 million), the plans no longer call for creating a subterranean parking structure across Robertson in West Hollywood Park. There also have been minor changes in the proposed scale of the building to make it fit better with the Factory building and other buildings on Robertson Boulevard.
Required evaluations of the project’s possible environmental impact have found no serious issues. Those using the hotels will enter from La Peer Drive while those visiting Robertson Lane to shop or dine are likely to enter from Robertson, meaning the hotel will not have a significant impact on Robertson traffic. The possibility of traffic problems at the intersection of Robertson with Santa Monica Boulevard will be addressed by reconfiguring the intersection to include a lane for both through traffic and left turns onto Santa Monica from Robertson as well as an exclusive right turn lane.
An analysis of the project shows it will provide benefits worth $9.17 million to the city and nearby businesses.
The benefits that Faring has proposed include:
— $4 million that it would pay to the city up front to be allocated toward community priorities such as the build-out of the Design District streetscape for Robertson Boulevard and La Peer Drive, the AIDS Monument in West Hollywood Park, installation of security cameras and of retractable bollards on Robertson.
— $2.75 million that would come from a 0.75% increase in the hotel occupancy tax over and above the amount that is typically collected for a period of 25 years.
— $2.42 million to subsidize the monthly rate for parking in 100 parking spaces over 60 years. While this is not a direct payment of funds to the city, it will benefit businesses nearby. A City Hall memo on the project says “the requirement for these spaces to be provided at subsidized rates will continue for the life of the project.”
The project has received the endorsement of preservation groups such as the Los Angeles Conservancy and the West Hollywood Preservation Alliance along with many local residents and business owners. However, it is likely to face some objections from Unite Here Local 11 a union that represents hotel workers, which has argued that Faring isn’t doing enough to memorialize the bigotry at the Factory’s Studio One. That is a matter of dispute, with Faring having gotten support for the project from Charles Stewart, the first co-chair of the National Association of Black & White Men Together (BWMT), and Wes Joe, a gay activist with the Asian-American Pacific Islanders group,
The City Council will consider the Robertson Lane project at its Monday meeting, which begins at 6:39 p.m. at the City Council Chambers, 625 N. San Vicente Blvd., south of Santa Monica. Parking is free in the five-story structure behind the Council Chambers with a ticket validated in the lobby.