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Huge Mixed-User Planned For Joni Mitchell Paved Paradise Site

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They're paving paradise again: an application has been filed to demolish the large stripmall at the southwest corner of Sunset and Crescent Heights (with the Chase, McDonald's, et al), the site rumored to have inspired Joni Mitchell's "Big Yellow Taxi." Developer Townscape Partners plans to build a huge mixed-use development with 249 residential units, 110,000* square feet of commercial space, and 849 parking spaces in buildings that would range in height from two to 16 stories. The residences will mostly be studios and one-bedrooms, plus 38 two-bedrooms and eight three-bedrooms; a total of 28 will be set aside for very low-income residents. Planned amenities include a pool, gym, library and recreation room. While the application refers to the units as apartments, the application also includes a request to create airspace lots so that they can be sold as condos. There will also be retail, a gym and supermarket, rooftop lounge and open spaces including a landscaped traffic island open to the public.

Townscape Partners (which is also behind the office-to-condo conversion of 8899 Beverly Boulevard in West Hollywood) bought the site last year. While a full environmental impact report is still due, they hope to start work next year and wrap up in 2017. Townscape's application is looking for approvals for (among other things) the use of affordable housing incentives, conditional use permits, and variances allowing a gym and dining above the first floor.

This site was most recently on our radar when a group of stripmall tenants sued Townscape for jacking up parking fees to a business-killing rate of $3 per 15 minutes. The tenants alleged that Townscape was trying to force them out while cooking up secrete development plans (they were at least half right). Before that, it was the site of the legendary Garden of Allah estate and later apartment complex, home to Orson Welles, Ernest Hemingway, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Dorothy Parker, and Greta Garbo between the 1920s through the 1950s. It's long been rumored that the destruction of the Garden of Allah inspired "Big Yellow Taxi" ("they paved paradise and put up a parking lot"), though Joni says she was actually singing about Hawaii.
· 8150 Sunset Boulevard [Hollywood Hills West Neighborhood Council]