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Be It a Hotel or Condo Tower, Westwood's Wilshire Gayley Returns

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Robert AM Stern's designs for Westwood
Oh hello, Wilshire Gayley. The final environmental impact for the proposed 29-story tower in Westwood has been posted on the city's web site. As covered before, local developer Kambiz Hekmat is considering two options for the corner of Wilshire Boulevard and Gayley Avenue, site of the old Hollywood Video store: A 250-room luxury business hotel OR an 144-unit condo tower. In both instances, there would be ground-floor retail and a restaurant, and in both instances, parking would be provided in a four-level subterranean garage. Given resistance to development on the Westside, is the neighborhood embracing this project? Some are, some aren't. Those who seem unhappy with the project include Jon Muller, who owns the Westwood Medical Plaza, a Paul R. Williams-designed 1961 building (seen on the right). Muller has numerous issues with the project, including the fact that the new tower will block his supergraphic.

Given that developers and building owner are fighting to keep their supergraphics, and in some cases, winning, Muller's case seems worth pointing out. Does he have a case?

In public comments on the project (comments are collected as part of the planning process), Muller, who also has a supergraphic on the other side of the building, writes:

"This EIR chapter fails to mention or describe the existing supergraphics advertising signage area facing Gayley on the 10921 Wilshire building, which signage area is legal and permitted by the City of Los Angeles.

Further, the EIR fails to identify and analyze the impacts that the proposed project will have on the 10921 Wilshire signage area which faces Gayley, including blocking the views of the signage area due to the proposed project's massive height and lack of any setback from Wilshire Boulevard.

There was no analysis in the EIR, for example, of an Alternative wherein the proposed project would have a greater setback from Wilshire Boulevard, to mitigate blocking the views of the 10921 Wilshire Boulevard signage area."

And more from Muller:

"The City should refuse to certify this EIR, or require a Mitigation Measure that guarantees that the neighboring owner to the east of the project - i.e., Westwood Medical Plaza - will be compensated for the impacts from the proposed project and its economic losses as a direct result of the City allowing the proposed project to block views of the supergraphics signage."

And some more:

"In the event the project is approved by the City as currently proposed by the applicant, then for any subsequent claims made to the City that the City's discretionary actions violated the intent of the Settlement Agreement, the project applicant should be required to defend and indemnify the City."

The planners respond to Muller's comments in this final EIR:

"Here, the potential obstruction of a supergraphic sign on the western façade of the building located at 10921 Wilshire Boulevard and loss of income to the commentor as a result, which is the impact that the commentor seeks to avoid, is not a significant impact. CEQA does not require public agencies to impose mitigations or consider alternatives in order to mitigate social or economic impacts. Impacts to property values are not an environmental impact, they are economic and, therefore, the consideration of this alternative is not required."

It would seem some of the economic loss might come from losing eyeballs from a key point: The 405 freeway. Here's one view from the road, although it would seem that at some points you could still see the graphic:

Given how much money is at risk, we're wondering if Muller might sue. The supergraphics, of course, are said to generate up to $100,000 a month for building owners. Muller didn't return calls.
· Wilshire Gayley archives [Curbed LA]

Wilshire Gayley

Wilshire Blvd. & Gayley Ave., Los Angeles, CA 90024