Robertson Lane Project Goes Before WeHo City Council Monday for Final Approval

An illustration of the Robertson Lane project with the Factory building in the foreground (Hodgetts + Fung Architects)

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.

faring, jason illoulian, the factory
An illustration of the entrance from La Peer to the proposed Robertson Lane project.

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.


24 Comments
  1. Why hasn’t anyone mentioned the fact that Robertson is too narrow to accommodate that big of a development. I know that on a busy night you can’t pass through there. They need to widen the street, make pick up and drop off areas available, and allow for emergency vehicles. Remember, right now, there aren’t any tall structures on Robertson, add a six or nine story building and you have a nightmare. I like the development but the road needs to be wider and SMB (particularly at Doheny) and Melrose should be tweaked for greater vehicle traffic as well. Pedestrians usurp their right of way in the crosswalk, virtually cutting off the flow of traffic. This back up will cause problems unnecessarily. I like the dedicated right light but again I think the street needs to be widen.

    1. There’s no opportunity to widen Robertson without impeding pedestrian flow in the process. This new development could have regressed drop off zone, but sidewalks couldn’t be too far back from the existing.

      What happened to the plan to bury the utilities on Robertson? That would improve pedestrian flow tremendously.

      For a more complete transformation, this new development should include a new Bossa Nova and tear down the corner burger stand.

  2. Do we really need another gay club in west Hollywood replaced with forced density mega projects who”s developers were major campaign contributors in our election cycles?

    The Weho Democracy is BROKEN

    Well tonight our city council will say yes to 9 STORY 241 ROOM HOTEL on this spot. And of course be waving the current zoning restrictions to build this dense, this high and to put a hotel here. Who needs zoning laws when you can pay to play in weho?

  3. This project will enhance the area that is currently an eyesore and under-utilized (parking lot). I’m all for it and so are the neighbors I’ve spoken to about it.
    Let’s get it done!

  4. I think that Robertson Lane is going to elevate the neighborhood to a level that is hard for the naysayers to see. I for one will make the bet that all the haters are going to be regulars drinking and eating and enjoying all the benefits the Lane will offer. You know it and I know that once its completed that everyone is going to love this project because it benefits everyone…even the ones that are so against development.

  5. This is a development that actually invites local citizens to interact and benefit by improving the area. Currently the area is a parking lot in the day and an abandoned old factory during the day…oh except for Sundays when i wouldn’t want to walk down the street with my children because there is chaos spilling out onto the street from the factory nightclub. There are lots of police and it doesn’t feel like a safe environment. I’m sure when the club is opened at night, but to be honest i don’t walk the area at night because it just isn’t my scene. Is this the ideal for this locale? Or if the alternative is a vibrant lane with cafes and variety of stores and restaurants and a hotel above why would i not want that? What would i prefer? The Robertson Lane Development! Then i would love to walk down the boulevard in the evening and experience a new and hopefully wonderful community environment.

    1. we dont want children in west hollywood . At least I don’t. That is not why I moved to a gay neighborhood 14 years ago.

      1. Unless you live in a gated 55+ community, you have no control who moves into the neighborhood…including people of color, people of religion or (gasp) people with children. Love not hate

  6. As someone who works and lives in the area, I’m glad that this area is finally getting attention. It is about time something happened to this dead zone between santa monica and melrose. Frankly, I was always worried that it would become another PDC level office building…a hotel is a huge improvement!

  7. It looks very beautiful despite the usual very linear square blocks… in rows. I think it’s actually the lighting that enhances these renderings. Exquisite detailed architecture is a dying art in West Hollywood… perhaps dead & buried already. Shame. All these new square buildings with square glass windows & facades will be around for many decades to come. Creative city indeed!

    1. Magic Hour lighting always produces dramatic results. The Robertson view is the one that most have envisioned. The La Peer view is not that attractive.

      It might be responsible for developers to present elevations showing lighting effects in real time as is done with shade and shadow studies. Few have the ability to foresee the
      true eventual effect of the multitude of buildings appearing that crowd out the unique and definitive structures of the past whether they be humble craftsman or elegant landmarks.

  8. I don’t understand. How does this extend to Melrose? There is Scott Free’s production company building as well as the Pet Hospital, Anwalt Lumber and Maxfield. Is that a misprint?

    1. Thanks for catching that error. It will extend from Robertson Boulevard west to La Peer. It will largely occupy the space now occupied by the Factory and the parking lot to the north of it.

  9. This is a well designed and respectful development. I strongly support this for approval along with my husband, Jay Fuentes.

    Honorable Mayor, Mayor Pro Tem and Councilmembers,

    To the extent of the applied revision’s and the final project that is before you, I ask for you unanimous support and approval of this creative (heart of boys town) project.

    Thank you.

    1. I’m curious how this guys comment made it past your review? Isn’t calling someone an idiot considered name calling? Maybe it’s ok if you’re speaking about a public servant. Sad!!

      1. I would never, ever insult a private individual in a public forum unless he/she said something first. Being insulted while being a public servant is part of the job. This is a democracy.

        1. Let’s try this again. Apparently the last comment I made was insulting in some way because it’s not showing up 🙄

          Your insult of a public official is not part of their job. Anyway, I was talking about Wehovilles double standard on insulting people.

          We should all try to be nicer to each other and not hurl insults. That’s why this county is in the toilet.

          I hope this one makes it past their censorship.

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