“I feel they are not prepared,” said commissioner David Ambroz. “I’m not confident the outreach has been sufficient. I’ve never been here before where people are so poorly armed with information when they have a project.”
Developer OV LLC wants to demolish a gas station, 32 apartments in two buildings, and 8,942 square feet of medical office space at 1000 South Olympic to build a seven-story condo building with ground-floor retail and grocery space. The project would take up the entire block bordered by Vermont, Olympic, Menlo, and 11th.
A major sticking point for commissioners was the question of whether tenants who could be displaced by the project understood what was going to happen to their housing.
Of the apartments set to be demolished, 21 are rent-stablized units, which are steadily disappearing across the city. The developer is not required to replace them, but as a kind of concession, OV LLC plans to set aside five percent of the 228 condo units, or roughly 11 or 12 units, for households making between 120 and 150 of the area’s median income.
OV LLC is also planning to offer available apartments in another RSO building it owns in the area to residents who would be displaced. There are only five apartments open in the other building, so the majority of affected tenants would not be able to take advantage of this opportunity
Commissioner Vahid Khorsand found it “very peculiar” that not one resident who would stand to lose their apartment had commented for or against the project.
“I’m very concerned that [the project] would come as a surprise to these residents,” Khorsand said. “That’s something we should consider” when approving these projects, he said.
Project representative Milan Garrison of MaxSum Development told the commission that they had sent residents the required notifications about the project by mail. Beyond that, though, the developer had only had “sporadic” conversations with “various” tenants, and had not arranged a meeting with all tenants to tell them the project is moving forward and what that would entail.
Commissioner Khorsand said that only doing what was required was not enough.
“The city isn’t there to communicate with these residents,” he said, addressing the developer. “That should fall on you.”
Commissioners were also dissatisfied with the developer’s inability to answer questions about a few elements of the project’s design on documents submitted to the commission.
When commissioner Dana M. Perlman asked the developer to explain a street-level element on the site plan called the “entry wall of life,” project representatives were not able to fully explain what it was (beyond saying it was a landscape feature) and what purpose it served.
With so many concerns surrounding outreach and overall preparation, the commission voted to continue the project to a later date. It will consider the development again on December 13.