AirTalk for July 24, 2013

LA City Council approves Millennium Hollywood skyscraper project

Hollywood High-rises

Millennium Partners

A rendering by Millennium Partners of the proposed 55-story Hollywood high-rises

Despite vociferous objections from some people who live in the neighborhood, the Los Angeles City Council Wednesday unanimously approved the Millennium Hollywood development, which will include a pair of skyscrapers flanking the famous Capitol Records building. The vote was 13-0. 

“This project will act as the gateway to Hollywood and brings great economic development,” said City Councilman Mitch O’Farrell, who represents the area. The project will produce 2,900 construction jobs, 1,257 full-time permanent jobs, and an estimated $4.3 million in new tax revenue annually for the city, according to O’Farrell.

“It’s a game-changer for Hollywood,” he said. The council’s 15 members often defer to the local councilman when considering projects. Mayor Eric Garcetti, who used to represent Hollywood on the council, said he would sign off on the project.

Some residents urged the council to reject the massive development, which includes one million square feet of office, retail, apartment and hotel space inside two towers 39 and 35 stories tall. They argued it would create more traffic congestion.

“I’m all for the re-gentrification of Hollywood, but not a project of this magnitude,” said Shelley Kiah, who lives in Whitely Heights. Residents of that neighborhood would see their views partially blocked by the towers.

Other opponents urged the council to delay its vote until there is resolution to concerns that the project would sit on an active earthquake fault.

“The developer’s engineers distorted their technical reports to hide the existence of the Hollywood earthquake fault running directly through this property,” said attorney Robert Silverstein, who represents homeowners groups. He pointed to new concerns about the fault raised by a USC professor.

Millennium Partners co-founder Philip Aarons, who came from New York to attend the council vote, said any seismic worries would be addressed.

“We would not, and will not, build a project that puts anyone in any seismic safety issues,” he told reporters. “We expect there to be more studies on the site itself to indicate whether or not there is an earthquake fault there.”

The city has asked the developer to conduct new seismic tests, and the California Geological Survey has begun to examine whether the well-known Hollywood fault remains active.

But officials from the city Department of Building and Safety told the city council they believe the site is safe.

“At this point, we feel like that the approval for the tentative tract is still a valid approval,” said Dana Prevost, chief of the department’s Grading Division. He acknowledged the city has asked the Millennium Partners to conduct more studies “to satisfy the concerns that have been raised.”

“We will address the seismic issues as we move toward the building permit process,” Philips said. “We believe this will be a spectacular project toward the revitalization of Hollywood.”

Labor unions and the Hollywood Chamber of Commerce hailed the council’s vote approving the project, which could break ground as early as next year.

Opponents vowed to file a lawsuit to stop the project, citing the earthquake issues. Their attorney said he would allege the developer failed to conduct an adequate environmental impact report under the California Environmental Quality Act. He also said he would accuse the city planning commission of a conflict of interest because one of its members allegedly has performed work for the developer. 

“This is not only a horrific project, but also a horrific abuse of the process,” Silverstein said.

 


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