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Midtown Crossing Attempting 900 Square Foot Sign Trick

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Updated 11/1 5:17 pm: The old adage about giving an inch and taking a mile is on display at Midtown Crossing today. The recently-released agenda for the upcoming Community Redevelopment Agency board meeting includes an item that would allow "Minor Variations" to the redevelopment agreement for Phase II of the Midtown Crossing retail development (the one with the Lowe's at Pico and San Vicente in Mid-City). The current agreement, signed in 2002, allows a maximum of 100 square feet for on-site signage. The new terms, which will go before the CRA board on Thursday, would allow five on-site signs, each greater than that maximum--the "minor variations" would allow five signs ranging from 240 square feet to 900 square feet.

The variations apply only to on-site signs--advertising for stores in the project. There are also ten off-site signs (for stores not in the project) that could be allowed by the grandfathered Sign Supplemental Use District under consideration as part of the city's new Signage Ordinance (that ordinance was recently sent back to city staff for more work). The 2002 redevelopment agreement that set the 100 square foot maximum was known as the "Resolution Adopting a Design for Development Prohibiting the Construction of Pole Sign and Billboard Structures and Providing. Standards for Other Sign Structures in the Mid-City Recovery Redevelopment Project Area."

Item six on Thursday's CRA Board hearing agenda provides the following explanation for the increased size allowance: "Signs A10, A11, A13 and A15 are 560 square feet, 840 square feet, 240 square feet and 900 square feet respectively. These four signs are all attached to the three level parking structure. The exceptional size and height conditions do not generally apply to the typical Project Area one and two story, twenty-five and fifty foot wide storefront commercial development. For reasons of appropriate scale and context, these sign sizes are justifiable." Phase II of the project has 383,000 square feet of retail on three levels.

Just last April, project developer CIM group released a set of renderings that included smaller signage than what the developer is now seeking. But this latest variation is just the most recent in a history of bait-and-switch with the development agreements for Midtown Crossing. Back in August, LA Weekly reported that the Lowe's that serves as the centerpiece of Phase II of this development was erected at 68 feet--well above the 40-foot height limit set by Planning Department staff. Update: Actually, the City Council and the Planning Commission had approved the 68 foot height. In 2008, the LA Times reported that the project had asked for an increase in CRA money, from $5 million to $14.3 million.
· Midtown Crossing Project Signage Variation [CRA/LA]
· Latest Renderings Show Off CIM Group's Midtown Crossing [Curbed LA]
· L.A.'s generosity flows in Mid-City [LA Times]
· CIM Group's Bitter Lesson to Mid-City [LA Weekly]