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Wilshire Grand Cleared for More Wattage, Tower Lights

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Coke Sign=Approximation of digital signage via Curbed
Get out your sunglasses because the AC Martin-designed Wilshire Grand office and hotel project—and the downtown skyline—just got brighter. Rejecting the sign-lite recommendation made by the Planning Commission late last year, today the Planning and Land Use Management Committee approved architectural lighting on the 45-story and 65-story towers of the building, and approved larger digital signs on the bottom of the project.

The move by the Committee restores some of digital signage originally sought by Thomas Properties/Hanjin International, which is developing the project at Wilshire Boulevard and Figueroa Street, replacing the existing hotel with this new office and hotel development.

In explaining why the Committee chose to restore the architectural lighting--defined as LED lights, but no advertising--rather than follow the Planning Commission's recommendations, City Councilman Ed Reyes, who chairs the Planning and Land Use Management Committee, said the lighting would “add character to the skyline," and show off the outline of the building. "It will be artistic in nature," said Reyes.

But to some watching today’s approval, there's little understanding about what the architectural lighting will look like. The renderings in the EIR show the requested LED signage area--originally, Thomas Properties/Hanjin sought digital advertising on the towers, a move which was shot down by the city--but renderings don't show the recently approved architectural lighting, which will rise on the upper part of the towers.

“The building is going to be changing colors and at different rates and different times," said Dennis Hathaway, who runs the Coalition to Ban Billboard Blight. “There should be a simulation, there should be a model." The Planning and Land Use Management Committee, he added, "was remiss in its obligation" to the public by approving the project without calling for more explanation of what the lighting will look like.

Neighboring property owners have also expressed concerns about the project. Specifically, Brookfield Properties, which appealed the Planning Commission project’s decision, continues to contest the signage of the project, saying the brightness of the signs will affect their ability to lease out their neighboring commercial properties.

As recently as yesterday, Brookfield submitted documents to the city showing comparative candela levels of various signage in the downtown area, and expressing their own preference for the candela levels on the project. Attorneys for Brookfield Properties present at today's meeting refused to comment after the vote.

But clearing another obstacle of opposition, a deal is close to being reached with the owner of 1000 Wilshire, the Wedbush building, and another neighbor that had expressed concerns about the development. Attorney Ben Reznik, who represents 1000 Wilshire, said a "handshake" deal with the developer over traffic mitigation issues had been reached.

Following today's vote, the City Council will consider the Wilshire Grand hotel by March 9th. Developer Thomas Properties/Korean Air want to start demoing the existing hotel by the end of the year, a deadline that City Councilwoman Jan Perry, who represents this part of downtown, has tried to help the developer reach. Perry appeared at today's meeting, urging the Committee to approve the development, as well as the architectural lighting.

And today's approval wasn't just for the building, but a new sign district as well, one likely to grow bigger.

As part of the development agreement with the city, the developer will put $400,000 toward the study of new sign district--the Figueroa Corridor Supplemental Use District--that will extend from Wilshire Boulevard to LA Live. “[The Wilshire Grand] could be viewed as one of the anchors of a proposed sign district, LA Live being another anchor,” Reyes told planning staff during the meeting.
· Why Did the Planning Commission Kill Wilshire Grand Architectural Lighting? [Curbed LA]
· Planning Commission Approves Wilshire Grand, Chooses Sign-Lite Option [Curbed LA]
· Renderings Show Wilshire Grand Signage, What Planning Dept Recommends [Curbed LA]

Wilshire Grand

930 Wilshire Boulevard, Los Angeles, CA 90017 Visit Website