Major Development on Santa Monica at West Knoll Goes Before Planning Commission Thursday

Illustration of proposed 8555 Santa Monica Blvd. project (DFH Architects)

One of the most prominent development projects currently proposed in West Hollywood will go before the city’s Planning Commission on Thursday for review.

The project, on the northwest corner of Santa Monica Boulevard at Knoll, is a four- and five-story mixed use building that will house as many as three restaurants with outdoor dining, 95 apartments and 15 “live/work” units, retail stores and space for salons and other service businesses. The project would include 328 parking spaces on three levels, with one of them underground. There would be 12 apartments for low- and very low-income people.

The building would stretch from the eastern edge of the Ramada Plaza hotel to West Knoll, replacing the building that now houses the Collar & Leash pet store and its adjacent parking lot and a collection of small businesses including West Knoll Pharmacy, a restaurant and skin care salons. It also would replace a single-family home on West Knoll. The developer is Soto Capital LP, one of several companies owned by Behnam (Ben) Soroudi, a Beverly Hills developer who also has extensive real estate interests through his Ruby Group, Harper Enterprises and other companies.

The city’s Planning and Development Services Department, in a memo to the Planning Commission, says “The project would be transformational to this portion of the City … The existing buildings on the subject site are in disrepair, underutilized
and do not help achieve the goals and policies of the City.”

The project has been in the works for many years and has been revised in an attempt to address concerns expressed by nearby residents and the Ramada hotel. Those concerns have included increased traffic on West Knoll and blocking natural light into the Ramada’s rooms. In response, Soto reduced the driveways into West Knoll Drive from two to one and set the building back on the third through fifth floors from five to 15 feet to allow more natural light into the Ramada. There would be another driveway into the development on Santa Monica Boulevard.

Soto also has slightly reduced the overall square footage of the project to 139,520 and reduced the density of the portion of the building that faces West Knoll and thus sits on residentially zoned lots.

The Planning Commission will consider the project at its meeting on Thursday at 6:30 p.m. in the City Council Chambers at 625 N. San Vicente Blvd. Parking is free in the five-story structure behind the chamber building with a ticket validated at the meeting.

Map showing location of proposed 8555 Santa Monica Blvd. project

  1. It was in my opinion Way Too Big … BEFORE they rezoned the 3 single family residences behind directly on Westknoll.

    1. Yes, figurative encroachment and lack of Neighborhood Compatibility. This will forever be an issue with future development along SMB. The developer must understand that the “neighborhood” residents will most likely be their target consumer so there should be an effort to be compatible and hospitable by not overtaking the residential districts regardless of their rezoning.

      1. I’m with you! Wish you had been on the City Council (was there one then?) when they tore down the Tonga native American’s huts! What got built there afterwards — all that crazy Spanish looking stuff — I’m sure made those Indians very unhappy. Let’s keep it all as it was (maybe tear down that Tri West neighborhood and rebuild some Tonga huts there?)

  2. Just curious as to why there are so few affordable on site units planned for this project. I thought the City required 20% to be set aside as affordable. Perhaps the developers aren’t asking for any density bonuses for that requirement kick in?

  3. Repetitive and unappealing but some commissioners will fall for the hip color scheme. Looks like a “Lime Hub” if they were welcome in Weho. The original structures would have suggested some imaginative courtyard spatial arrangements to a sensitive architect designing for the neighborhood which would have prevented another massive span of frontage with a few trees hanging over the upper levels. The developer spent so much time ruminating over this but it now represents a missed opportunity.

    The Ramada is in serious need of an upgrade.

    1. I’d like to know who it was who approved the Ramada when it existed only on paper. It’s an ugly building and we’ll be looking at it for decades.

      1. It’s a prime example of 1980’s Post-Modern architecture. It’s still a vast improvement over what was there before: a flea-bag motel.

        1. I believe that hotel was the Tropicana, which was rich in Hollywood history. I stayed there before I moved to California.

  4. City Council should ensure that trucks, deliveries, commuters dont ruin the quiet street of West Knoll Drive from Hancock to Santa Monica.

    1. Too late. The Chamberlain Hotel was granted a Restaurant Licence. EVERY DAY there are Large to HUGE Semi Trucks with no loading zone. It needs regular Refrigerated Produce. Refrigerated meats and Fish. Huge Beer & Alcohol Delivery Trucks and all kinds of food and Restaurant Supply trucks for a very small restaurant in a totally residential neighborhood.

      This is in addition to REGULAR LINEN SERVICE, employees parking in the Hotel Garage, and always racing out when leaving.

      All of which was approved (while I’ve personally known many rental neighbours who left, and when their Moving Company Truck Came to pick up their belongings, have been ordered to not drive or park on Westknoll due to size and weight (once, for an average person renting) being too much for a Residential Neighborhood. Meanwhile MOST of the Hotel’s Food & Beverage have much larger and heaver Refrigerated Trucks, no loading zone, parked in the red zone and through the Pedestrian Cross walk at the traffic circle NE corner – can be dangerous to pedestrians at time with people speeding or lost at the Traffic Circle.

      DAILY PROBLEM. City’s fine with it.

      1. Call Code Compliance. Or better yet, immediately lower your expectations and please accept their apologies in advance for being on permanent paid vacation while at work in Weho. Last hope, approach your favorite CC member with photographic evidence and a sit down.

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