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Sunset Stripmall Owner Accused of Secret Development Plans

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The new owners of Suncrest Plaza near West Hollywood (on Sunset and Doheny Drive Crescent Heights) are being sued by some of their tenants after the landlord established parking fees for shopping center customers; the establishments say it's part of a plan to put them out of business and redevelop the nearly 45,000-square-foot property into a residential or mixed-use project. The Los Angeles Business Journal reports (sub. req.) that Townscape Partners bought the strip mall last year and, last month, started charging customers $3 per 15 minutes, with no option for businesses (including Subway, El Pollo Loco, and a dry cleaners) to validate the parking. The lawsuit claims that sales have dropped by up to 50 percent as a result and that Townscape hopes the shops will soon all be belly up. The landlord's attorney says that's hooey: "[C]harging for parking is standard practice in Los Angeles, and most certainly in high-demand areas like the Sunset Strip." True, but the prices do a seem a tad exorbitant.
· Parking Problems [LABJ, sub. req.]