West LA's main street—Santa Monica Boulevard—is constrained by near-constant traffic from the 405 and Twentieth-Century planning failures that allowed eyesore strip-malls from Barrington to Bundy. But evolution is coming ever so slowly. In a very symbolic change, mega-developer CIM snapped up two recently-shuttered adjacent Buerge car dealerships, and already has preliminary plans for a mixed-user at the former Ford dealership, between Granville and Westgate, where retail will meet the sidewalk instead of dusty Focuses.
The plans, presented last night at the West LA Neighborhood Council's Planning and Land Use Committee, call for a four-story project, with 157 units that include 16 low-income apartments. There will be nearly 45,000 square feet of retail, though committee members voiced worry that a big box retailer, like CityTarget, would move in and bring on a traffic apocalypse (lots of underground parking is planned). CIM reps said there are no plans for something like that, but the committee wants the retail spaces broken up into smaller shops, as well as more open space and wide sidewalks. There's time for adjustments as the project, designed by Gene Fong & Associates, is in the very early stages.
As far as the dealership plot next door, CIM says they're not sure what they're doing with it yet. Another interesting option for CIM is the block owned by Albertsons, on Santa Monica Boulevard between Barrington and Bundy—the grocery chain recently tore down a wretched Vons (Albertsons recently bought Vons' parent company Safeway) that long haunted this neighborhood. Plans, and signs, indicate a new Pavilions grocery store is coming (the neighborhood is starved for supermarkets), but rumors are proliferating that Albertsons wants to unload the land to a developer now that they've seen the fortune Buerge made selling their parcels. For now, the torn-down Vons is surrounded by fencing and broken sidewalks, though it looks better than when the actual store was there.