Purchase of Yet Another Piece of Property Is on the WeHo City Council’s Agenda

8301-8313 Santa Monica Blvd.

The City of West Hollywood, which over the years has snapped up a number of pieces of local property, is asking the City Council to approve its acquisition of the lot across from City Hall that is occupied by Joey’s Café, Peter’s Magnolia Cleaners, and Crossroads Trading Company.

The City Council will be asked on Monday night to authorize the spending of $11,410,750 (plus closing costs) to purchase the 22,000-square-foot lot at 8301-8315 Santa Monica Blvd. The city already owns the adjacent Coast Playhouse at 83225 Santa Monica Blvd., which it bought in 2016 for $2.5 million. The only other property on that section of the north side of Santa Monica Boulevard between Sweetzer Avenue and Flores Street is Basix restaurant.

A memo to the Council from City Hall says the city has no current plans to use the property. “The existing commercial tenants on the property will remain for the foreseeable future, and any changes in use to the property are too speculative to analyze at this time,” says the memo from the city’s Facilities and Recreation Department and Finance and Technology Services. “Once the sale is complete, the city will conduct a study of best uses and feasibility for potential redevelopment and use of the property and gather public input regarding the same.”

The property is owned by Broudy Axelrood LLC, a company associated with Norma Broudy and the late Leonard Broudy. Given that it is the site of a dry cleaner, the soil is contaminated with the dry-cleaning solvent perchloroethylene. The memo says that contamination can be reduced to a less than significant level.

Gelson’s Market on Santa Monica Boulevard at North Kings Road

The City Council, in a closed session, last year considered making a bid for the property adjacent to City Hall that houses the Gelson’s grocery store. Gelson’s sold the 1.25-acre lot to Safco Capital Corporation. The grocery store intends to remain on the site.

The City of West Hollywood has a number of other properties that it has yet to decide how to use. In 2015, the city paid $7 million for the one-acre lot once occupied by Walgreens on the southwest corner of Santa Monica and Crescent Heights boulevard. It is still working on plans to construct a temporary parking lot on the property and has yet to begin the process of figuring out its eventual use.

The city still hasn’t found a tenant to occupy the first floor of the four-floor parking structure that it owns at 8383 Santa Monica Blvd. at Kings Road. Aaron Brothers, the framing retailer, last year moved out of the first-floor retail space that it had occupied for more than 20 years. A local realtor has a “for rent” sign on the retail space’s front window.

1343 N. Laurel Ave. (Photo: by Jon Viscott)

And the city still hasn’t developed a plan for the use of the 7,177-square-foot Laurel House, popularly known as “Tara,” that was donated to the city in 1997 by its owner, Elsie Weisman. After Weisman died in 2000, the city announced plans to convert the house, which is at 1343 N. Laurel Ave., into apartments and build other apartments on the property, all to house low-income senior citizens for whom there is a shortage of affordable housing. However, local residents protested that plan and the city this year hired a consultant to study possible uses of it.

Besides City Hall, the city’s other properties include the Werle Building, 7,533-square-foot, two-story office building at 626 N. Robertson Blvd. that was built in 1940. West Hollywood purchased the building in 1987 and in 2003 the city entered into agreements with various nonprofit organizations for the use of the property on a temporary basis. In late 2011, the City Council approved a plan to develop long-term relationships with tenants and to make necessary property improvements. Those non-profits include the Alcoholics Anonymous Recovery Center, the ONE Archives, part of the ONE National Gay & Lesbian Archives, and the June L. Mazer Lesbian Archives, which is dedicated to preserving and promoting lesbian and feminist history and culture.

The city also has contemplated making a bid for the property at 621 N. Robertson Blvd. just north of Melrose that is the location of the West Hollywood Lion’s Club. That building is a small log cabin that was erected in 1936 as a Boy Scouts of America clubhouse in celebration of BSA’s 26th anniversary. The building got a makeover decades later and eventually became a meeting place for recovering addicts. It is owned by the City of Beverly Hills.

The Werle Building (Photo by Jon Viscott, courtesy of the City of West Hollywood)

The city also has effectively expanded City Hall by renting space in the Koontz Hardware building on Santa Monica Boulevard to house some employees such as Public Safety Director Kristin Cook, who has been separated from her staffers in City Hall in an effort to resolve a city employees union complaint about her alleged abusive behavior. The city has moved its arts staff from City Hall to the Werle Building on Robertson Boulevard.

The City Council will meet at 6:30 p.m. on Monday at the City Council Chambers, 625 N. San Vicente Blvd. south of Santa Monica. Parking is available for free in the adjacent five-story structure with a ticket validated at the Council meeting.

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Joshua88
Joshua88
8 months ago

I like when the city buys property. Eventually we’ll get a CC that approves of a building we can get behind. Housing – affordable housing.
Check out this podcast: https://ralphnaderradiohour.com/reclaiming-democracy/

Phillip
Phillip
9 months ago

“the soil is contaminated with the dry-cleaning solvent perchloroethylene”

Hmm, makes one wonder if this isn’t a favor for the property owner to put the clean up costs onto taxpayers of WeHo. Guess I’m a bit of a cynic, but wouldn’t at all be surprised if city council is later “surprised” at how expensive the clean up is. I wouldn’t even consider purchasing such a property before existing owner abated the contamination.

Creative City?
Creative City?
9 months ago

And John Durand’s pathetic pitch that this will be the theater and creative Center of West Hollywood. I wonder how much the owners of the buildings paid Duran to vote for it?

TomSmart
TomSmart
9 months ago

“Occupied” by Walgreens should be replaced with “owned”

Jonathan Simmons
Jonathan Simmons
9 months ago

Google satellite map has long giant grave seal going east west though the middle of the property.

I have many pictures of the lot before the city tied to hide it with a pile of dirt. I can share with anyone I terested.

Where has WeHo gone
Where has WeHo gone
9 months ago

If I had a choice between the city of WeHo owning the property vs Fairing Road , I’d take the city . Fairing Road is snapping up everything , building out buildings that the rent will be so high that they , too, will air vacant and thus city becomes more and more depressing .

Pete
Pete
9 months ago

They haven’t done anything with the property on crescent in years so they are spending 7 million to buy another property……what a joke

Alan Strasburg
Alan Strasburg
9 months ago

What’s the return on investment on the $7 million that has been sitting idle for the past five years at Santa Monica and Crescent Heights? These stewards of public money seem to be a) out of control, and b) feeling immune from accountability.

Deja
Deja
9 months ago
Reply to  Alan Strasburg

With every great Wehoville story, it feels more and more like the city administration (including city council) is a clone of the trump administration. I don’t say that lightly. It’s absolutely true.

Gavin Elster
Gavin Elster
9 months ago

If there is a severe shortage of senior housing, and millions in the city coffers why isn’t this money being used for that purpose?

Long Time Resident
Long Time Resident
9 months ago

The City needs to be building affordable apartments for its low income residents. Not using its real estate holdings for all these LGBT uses and separating staff – if a staffer is abusive, he/she/they should be terminated, not separated. That lot on Crescent Heights/SMB should not be a parking lot, it should be used for housing.

Rob Bergstein
Rob Bergstein
9 months ago

the lot at Crescent & SM’s use as a parking lot is only temporary until the City decides on a final use. I’m hoping for affordable office space for our non profits that care for our residents so they don’t have to leave the City; affordable housing; some commercial on the ground floor & a rooftop garden. That’s my wish list….

Brad
Brad
9 months ago

The staffer, Kristin Cook, last year had total compensation of $342,615. Stunning. https://transparentcalifornia.com/salaries/search/?q=Kristin+cook

StraightUp
StraightUp
9 months ago
Reply to  Brad

And we’re paying that salary. To those of us with hearts and souls, when unethical behavior is not only protected but rewarded, it’s literally sickening. City council should look into what’s been covered up at the top.

Adam Bass
Adam Bass
9 months ago

Often people in these comment forums complain about greedy developers buying up every available property and developing it to the extremes allowed by law.

Now that the City is buying property, an act that will keep one of those developers from determining the future of the property, and instead put the fate of the property in the hands of the residents – people complain about that.

I think the City Council is wise to purchase this property, and I’m excited to participate in the public process of determining the future of this vital corner in our city.

Randy
Randy
9 months ago
Reply to  Adam Bass

Precisely, if the city owns the lot, at least they have more choice in what becomes of it. Not to say that they won’t eventually let it be made into a mega-development.

Community Organizer
Community Organizer
9 months ago
Reply to  Adam Bass

“an act that will keep one of those developers from determining the future of the property”. You must have missed the story on here about the city basically hiring a developer as city architect.

Art
Art
9 months ago
Reply to  Adam Bass

Agreed, though YEARS ago I attended the meeting that determined the Walgreens lot would temporarily be a parking lot, but it’s still not done! How hard is it to build a parking lot. YEARS!!!

scott
scott
9 months ago

looks like i move out of here now. the traffic on sweetzer is more like dodgeball. so everything i walk to will be farther COPD says move