In a somewhat surprising move, today the Planning Commission---one of the first big city gatekeepers in terms of approving or denying a development--asked Stonebridge Holdings to go back and make revisions to its controversial Bundy Village project proposed for Olympic Blvd. and Bundy Dr. Given that the medical plaza and senior housing project had the backing of both the Mayor and City Councilman Bill Rosendahl going into the meeting, some people assumed this was a done deal. The commission's request for a continuance--30 days for the developer to do more work--was also notable because usually it seems that if they have concerns about a project, they approve it anyway, but with conditions. Some of the other notable things that happened today (we listened in via phone):
---Councilman Bill Rosendahl seemed to soften his position from earlier in the week when he came out strongly in support of the project. "I share the worries of the Westside," he said via a representative who appeared on his behalf. Adding that he supported the project in concept, he noted that he wanted "to make sure that community concerns are addressed" and "that the project is scaled back and traffic mitigations are addressed." (Meanwhile, a press rep for the Kilroy, the developer fighting the project, tells us that Rosendahl had a big meeting with numerous local neighborhood groups and councils last night.)
----Bring on the big guns! Surprising the commission, well-known lobbyist Benjamin Reznik from law firm Jeffer Mangels showed up, speaking on behalf of Kilroy. Among other things, Reznik argued the proposal for the updated general plan (still not completed) calls for more media companies to come into the area, so this project was really at odds with the city's plan for the neighborhood. (Kilroy leases its building at Bundy and Olympic out to media companies and has an interest in seeing similar businesses come into the area.)
"This is supposed to be a creative, media zoned industrial area," Reznik told the commission, arguing that allowing a medical facility would create a "hodgepodge" of businesses in the neighborhood.
Later in the hearing, a planning staffer said the proposal of a media-centric district in the proposed general plan was just a suggestion. (Related: Budget cuts to the planning department aren't going to help get those general plans updated any faster.)
--The commission, which like Rosendahl, seemed to appreciate the project in concept, worried about the impact of Bundy Village on the neighborhood. Concerns about open space provided by the development and traffic issues were mentioned. Additionally, it seemed the commission had a hard time actually visualizing the project, and how it would fit into the area.
--A rep for the mayor showed up, stating that Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa supports the project.
After the meeting, Michael Lombardi, President of Stonebridge Holdings Inc. issued the following statement: "For more than six years, we have met with community stakeholders and residents to discuss Bundy Village & Medical Park, outline its significant community benefits, and listened closely to the community’s feedback. We look forward to continuing these meaningful discussions with Councilmember Bill Rosendahl and the community in the coming days and weeks.
We remain confident that we can find common ground and ultimately receive project approval. When completed, Bundy Village will provide high-quality health care services for Westside senior citizens and create permanent jobs in the City of Los Angeles — both of which are needed in the City of Los Angeles and on the West Side.”
· Bundy Village [Curbed LA]