Today's the day for Santa Monica Boulevard zombie projects, it seems. Down by Highland, the huge Lexington Project (RIP 2008) is newly undead, and now comes word that Paseo Plaza is back amongst the living (UPDATE: A rep for the developer would like us to clarify that this project was never actually dead. We just didn't hear from it for years.). In 2008 we heard that the mixed-user planned for the long-abandoned Sears store at St. Andrews Place was "slightly delayed" and would break ground in 2009. Yeah, not so much. But now comes word from Continental Development Group that they'll break ground later this year, and they've hired Gruen Associates to make the final plans. The project will have 437 residential units, and was hailed this week by local City Councilmember Mitch O'Farrell as "an unprecedented investment in East Hollywood" that will "promote smart growth, provide easy access to all modes of transportation, increase the City's tax base." But it's also interesting for a number of reasons that don't sound like they were cut and pasted from a press release.
Remember during the mayoral campaign (yes, that dull thing, but bear with us) when Wendy Greuel accused Eric Garcetti of taking money from a developer/*criminal (UPDATE: Greuel used the word "felon" but Ripinsky's rep says that's inaccurate.)--at a polo match!--and then supporting his project? That developer/criminal is Juri Ripinsky of Continental Development Group, and the project was none other than Paseo Plaza. For the record, Greuel supported the project, too.
The project was also the subject of a lawsuit brought by infamous lawyer Robert Silverstein on behalf of the infamous La Mirada Neighborhood Association. In and of itself that's hardly news--those guys like to sue developments. In this case, however, they argued that the city issued agendas that used California Environmental Quality Act numbers instead of plain English (in this case ENV-2007-2939-MND), so there's no way an average resident could have any idea what a meeting was about. A Superior Court judge agreed and found the practice a violation of the Brown Act, aka California's Open Meeting Law. As we quoted from the Daily Journal at the time, "The judge pointed out that all other items on at least six Planning Commission agendas were spelled out in simple understandable terms but that environmental matters to be taken up under CEQA were only mentioned in a cryptic reference." NBC reported that community groups felt "emboldened [by the ruling] to expand the use of the courts and political action to force changes at City Hall."
· Continental Development Group's Paseo Plaza Hollywood Project Gets Community Support [PR Newswire]
· Paseo Plaza Archives [Curbed LA]