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City committee OKs scaled-down Sunset Strip project designed by Frank Gehry

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But critics say it’s still too big

Developers trying to raise a big residential and commercial complex designed by starchitect Frank Gehry on the Sunset Strip have agreed to tweak their plans to appease critics, including trimming the tallest of five buildings from 234 to 178 feet.

In exchange, the city’s Planning and Land Use Management Committee rejected on Tuesday four appeals that had been filed against the project, known as 8150 Sunset, over its size and its potential to choke up traffic in an already congested part of town. The plans now go to the City Council for final approval.

The five-building complex is planned for a 2.5-acre site on Sunset and Crescent Heights, where a strip mall stands today. Plans call for housing, pedestrian plazas, and 60,000 square feet of new commercial space with a restaurant and market.

Gehry says he’s sculpting buildings that will serve as the eastern gateway to West Hollywood’s iconic Sunset Strip.

“I’ve seen a lot of buildings built along Sunset Boulevard not to my taste,” he told the committee. He said his project will be, “porous, so you can walk through it; it’s not a big block like some of the buildings are. This hopefully has some invitation to it.”

In addition to shortening the tallest building, developer Townscape Partners also agreed to build wider, 15-foot sidewalks and to reduce the number of housing units from 249 to 229 but to increase the number that would be designated for low-income tenants to 38 from 28.

The Laurel Canyon Association, which has argued the project would jam up traffic on Laurel Canyon Boulevard, a route that connects Hollywood to the Valley, also reached an agreement with Townscape to add new bus stops and shelters and to put in speed bumps on neighborhood streets to discourage “cut-through” traffic.

But many neighbors are still unsatisfied, saying it’s just too big. It’d about three times more dense than what the 1980s zoning rules for that site at Sunset and Crescent Heights allow, though a city planner said that’s not unusual for the area. And one opponent said the design looked like blowfish overdosing on LSD.

The city committee has postponed its vote on whether to recommend landmarking the 1960 Chase bank building Townscape wants to demolish to make way for its project. Gehry said that building, “is in a precarious position to creating a proper project on the site.”

Mapping the Fancy New Developments Headed for the Once Scuzzy Sunset Strip [Curbed LA]