The proposed redevelopment of Panorama City’s long-dormant Montgomery Ward is charging forward with the backing of the Los Angeles city planning commission.
On Thursday, commissioners heaped favorable reviews on the project, dubbed ICON at Panorama, voting unanimously to endorse plans for 623 apartments, 60,000 square feet of shops and restaurants, and a landscaped plaza at the old Montgomery Ward site.
“I’m really pleased to see some dollars going back into the neighborhood,” said commissioner Renee Dake Wilson.
It’s a prime spot just west of the Panorama Mall and Roscoe and Van Nuys boulevards, a busy intersection that will be a future stop on Metro’s East San Fernando Valley Transit Corridor.
“I like the mixed housing, the setbacks, its really giving it this nice pedestrian feel. Overall, I’m just happy to see the project,” said commissioner Veronica Padilla Campos. She said it has made her sad to see this site—and others in Panorama City—sit vacant for years.
One of the developer’s principals described it on Thursday as “blighted,” “under-utilized,” and “unsafe.” Residents who spoke at the commission meeting didn’t disagree.
Danilo Guerra, who says he’s lived in Panorama City for 10 years, called it a “very dangerous place, because it’s empty” with “no lights.”
“We desperately need the old Montgomery site renovated,” said Gregory Wilkinson, who chairs the Panorama City Neighborhood Council. “We’re not talking about a giant Walmart or Best Buy; they’ve set aside small retail space in the plan to allow mom and pops to flourish. They’ve made it [an] attractive ... open air facility.”
Architect Jay Blatter said his goal is to make the project a “real hub for the entire community.”
The developer is Beverly Hills-based Icon Company. In a 2016 interview with the Los Angeles Times, one of the firm’s principals, Billy Ruvelson, estimated the project would cost $150 million. At that time, plans called for about 270 fewer apartments and nearly more than four times the amount of commercial space.
The project stills need to be approved by the Los Angeles City Council before it can be built. In the meantime, scroll down for a new suite of renderings.