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Judge overturns city approval for 27-story Koreatown tower

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It’s the latest setback for the project that opponents say is too tall for the area

Colony 27-story Koreatown tower
The project is planned 805 South Catalina Street, just below Eighth Street.
Via Los Angeles Department of City Planning

Plans for a 27-story residential tower in Koreatown hit a major snag last week, as the Los Angeles Times reports, when a judge overturned the city’s approval of the project, saying a more thorough environmental review was necessary.

The development is planned well within walking distance of the Purple Line subway system, but would be constructed a bit south of the high-rises of Wilshire Boulevard on a much lower-slung, residential street. Arguing it was too tall for its location, LA’s planning commission rejected the project in 2015. But Mayor Eric Garcetti supported the project, and the City Council approved it over the objections of neighbors and some community groups.

Land use organization Fix the City, which won a legal challenge in 2013 overturning an updated Hollywood Community Plan, sued over the project’s approval, arguing that its potential impact on traffic and public safety required a more detailed environmental analysis. Superior Court Judge Joanne O’Donnell agreed, ordering an environmental impact report to be completed for the project.

That’s not a death sentence for the development, but completion and review of full EIRs generally takes years to complete, meaning construction is unlikely to get underway in the near future.

This isn’t the first setback for the project, which was originally proposed a decade ago. The city rejected plans for a version of the tower that would have risen 35 stories in 2009. Four years later, developer Colony Holdings tried again with a 25-story design, but was denied for a second time.

The version of the project that eventually won city approval includes 269 apartments and 7,500 square feet of commercial space, with a total of 562 parking spaces.

Even if the project never comes to fruition, Koreatown has plenty of other developments in store to pick up the slack. By our count, nearly 50 different projects are now in the works across the neighborhood.