If Casden wants to win over the Mid City West neighborhood with its proposed 300-unit development on 3rd Street, the Beverly Hills developer is going to have to try a lot harder. Last night the Land Use Committee of the Mid City West Neighborhood Council voted to recommend denial of the project in its current form, a decision that followed about an hour and half of public comment. Among other things, speakers worried about traffic flow on Ogden Drive and Colgate Avenue, and wondered how increased density--without additional transportation alternatives--would affect the area. “Man up, council,” resident Barry Karas told the Land Use Council, urging them to reject the project. “Show some balls.”
Balls were shown, but Land Use Committee members also acknowledged they weren't sure what, if anything, should ultimately rise on the site, currently home to a Ross Dress for Less and a parking lot. “I don’t know if the Ross is the best use for the site,” said one committee member of the parcel, which is located directly across from the Grove. “I don’t know if congregate care is the best.”
Congregate care, a broad term for assisted living, was originally planned for the site. According to Renee Weitzer, Chief Planning Deputy for City Councilman Tom LaBonge, who appeared at the meeting, Casden isn't bound to the conditions under the original agreement (and the developer's defense in asking for the change is that there's no longer a need for market-rate congregate care), and can apply for the zoning change.
Meanwhile, if the subcommittee's vote signaled solidarity, the decision means squat if Councilman LaBonge wants the project since he'll sway the rest of the City Council. One longtime observer of development issues in the neighborhood said as much last night. "There's only person in the room tonight whose opinion matters," he said, mentioning LaBonge's deputy Weitzer. So far, LaBonge's office hasn't weighed in with that opinion yet, according to Weitzer.
But this is just Round 1 in what could be a very long match. So settle in and get the popcorn ready. "We're early in the process," Jennifer Anderson, Community Development Associate for Casden, said via phone this morning. "We will hear from a variety of voices. Last night was one group, and we will talk to different community members and continue the process." UPDATE: Blackburn & Sweetzer was also at the meeting and has a detailed report.
· Rendering Reveal, More Detail on Casden's Ross Project [Curbed LA]