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Centrum Sunset, Laurel Hardware on Planning Commission Agenda

Commissioners will hear the Centrum Sunset proposal to replace the old Tower Records building and review plans for Laurel Hardware restaurant.

Will the get the green light this week? And will the proposed be reviewed?

Those are two of the questions before the Planning Commission this week as it holds its biweekly meeting on Thursday.

The Centrum Sunset project from developer Sol Barket proposes to demolish the old Tower Records building at 8801 Sunset Blvd. Barket wants to replace it with a 52,000-square-foot building with retail shops at ground level, a David Barton specialty gym/spa on the second level and office space on the third level. 

The Commission first heard this proposal at its , but continued it until August, stating the need for more information on traffic impacts, parking within the structure, a proposed parking deck exit on Horn Avenue and the building’s video billboard, which will consist of four separate video screens wrapping around the southeast side of the building.

“We have revised our plans for 8801 Sunset considerably over the last several years in response to feedback we have received from our neighbors,” said Barket of Centrum Properties.

The building mass has been lowered by putting the parking below ground, the amount of signage has been cut significantly, the size of the David Barton Gym has been reduced by more than half from the 45,000-square-foot facility included in the early plans to the current 21,400 square feet of gym/spa space, he said.

“We have added a public amenity in the form of a pocket park at the northern end of the site at the request of neighbors who asked for green space," Barket said. "At the same time, the overriding goal has remained the same: to design a great project that will fit into the community and revitalize the Sunset Strip.”

Resident Elyse Eisenberg, who lives on Horn Avenue just above the project, is one of many residents fighting the project.

“It is still a 52,000-square-foot building with a large gym at the heart of it," she said. "The gym is what creates the parking and traffic intensities. Another use for the property has never been considered.”

She believes the building’s parking and increased traffic on Sunset and surrounding streets are not acceptable.

“The traffic circulation plan is unmanageable in any incarnation,” Eisenberg said. “With their parking, they are over 40 spaces too few by the city's calculation, over 70 too few by my attorney’s calculation. The parking they do have is achieved only by 100 percent valet, mechanical lifts and aisle parking, none of which make sense for a gym/office combination where the peak hours overlap.”

Laurel Hardware

The Commission will also debate whether to review a recent decision by Community Development Director Anne McIntosh to approve a  for the old Laurel Hardware building at 7984 Santa Monica Blvd. (at Laurel).

Planning Commissioner Lauren Meister filed a request for review upon instruction from City Councilman John D’Amico, who appointed her to the Commission. The Planning Commission has the right to review any decision made by the Community Development Director.

Meister told Weho Patch she filed the review request because residents had complaints about the procedure used in the Director’s hearing, when McIntosh approved the restaurant.

Meister said she also has concerns about restaurant parking, as do many area residents. City zoning codes require the restaurant have 32 spaces, but McIntosh approved the project’s plan to lease 19 spaces off-site. Area residents say parking is always short in the mid-city area and the restaurant will only aggravate things.

At Thursday’s meeting, the Commission will not hear the actual case, merely discuss whether to review it at a later date. “If the Commission votes to go ahead with the review, a hearing date will need to be set,” Meister told Patch. “I don't know when that will be.”

Other items

The Commission will also determine whether to allow bar at 8809 Santa Monica Blvd. to install a smoking patio. Also on the agenda is a proposal to demolish the existing two-story, 14-unit apartment building at 1264 N. Harper Ave. and replace it with a four-story, 14-unit condominium building.

The Planning Commission meeting is Thursday, Aug. 2 at 6:30 p.m. in .

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lampshade August 04, 2011 at 05:36 PM
I'm actually not against the Centrum Sunset project . However, I do find it a bit ridiculous that in the renderings that Sunset looks like this placid pedestrian plaza. I've never seen the intersection that empty except 2am-8am! The pocket park should also be more acessible to the public. I am not sure how anyone in the area would know it exists from these renderings. It must be tucked away in the northwest side of the parcel. Ok, so maybe I'm not in favor of this thing anymore. Doesn't seem to be adding a lot of value to community. I love David Barton Gym, but they have got to try harder. I like the idea of less parking though. This will force people to walk take public transpo. We need to eliminate the need to abundant parking in Weho.
Pandora August 04, 2011 at 07:57 PM
I think David Barton Gym at least from what Ive been told from friends in NYC is wonderful and I am very HAPPY they will be opening here in WH.I am so sick and tired of people complaining about traffic here. We live in a CITY and unless you moved here 50 years ago, there was traffic on Sunset BLVD and all over the place so its not a reason to deny a great sounding project like this one! As far as the restaurant on Santa Monica Blvd I think most of us can agree that the center portion of our city on Santa Monica BLVD is a DISASTER area anyway so if a new business finally wants to open there we should do all we can to encourage them but Meister is acting like Damico's lap-dog here and I for one get nervous when our commissioners have to be INSTRUCTED on how to act and what to think, say and do by the person that gave them the position or else what??? Guess it is safe to say that Damico and Meister and the city of WH are anti-business!!!!!
Jerome Cleary August 04, 2011 at 09:16 PM
If 911 calls and emergency vehicle access is jeopardized & drivers cannot get to other businesses on Sunset & will abandon heading to a Sunset Strip destination by texting their friends to re-route their plans to Melrose or 3rd street or somewhere else then does it really make sense to add over 1,100 cars a day from Centrum and over 550 u-turns in front of the Centrum project?
Paul August 04, 2011 at 11:34 PM
So sad that Tower records went under. It was a landmark for so long. Also, an upscale burger & salad bar at the old Laurel hardware store? That won't last long. I give a business like that a year tops.
joninla August 05, 2011 at 03:00 PM
As for the Homeowners who are fighting so hard against the project .... I have little sympathy. When I was purchasing I saw the building from Sunset and knew I would never consider a purchase since there was obviously going to be a new construction project in place of the old deteriorating Tower Records Building. The land owner of literally a very unique piece of property ON THE SUNSET STRIP should not be denied their ability to develop it because some yuppie-wanna-be either didn't have enough common sense to think about the possibility or think they can now "FIGHT AN INJUSTICE" . It's the Sunset Strip, and in addition the very steep ascent of Horn Ave will make it unnecessary to keep the building so low because it will not even be noticed beyond the Condo Complex which the owners foolishly thought would not happen.
joninla August 05, 2011 at 03:03 PM
AS FOR PARKING/TRAFFIC ISSUES - what could have been a worse situation than when Spago was there at its height of popularity. Certainly it couldn't be worse than Spago with virtually no parking and cars, papparatzzi and valet. Again, buyers, renters and anyone who saw the situation at least once before moving there is foolish to have bought if this was such a concern to their home buying/renting decision.
joninla August 05, 2011 at 03:09 PM
AGAIN - LIMITING HEIGHT: Whatever the design/sq footage planned. If the exact same numbers were kept, but the building was twice as high but only occupied a footprint on the lot ONE-HALF of the full lot, there could be LARGE PARK AREA (not a mini pocket park), as well as set backs and room for driveways and loading/service areas. Yes it would be taller, but the human eye compensates. As the existing very tall 1960's apt turned high end condo surrounding the area, if tall, but set back, it is not obtrusive and does not block out all the light. Further - a good landscaped setback makes both the walking and driving experience MUCH LESS 'CANYON' LIKE. It allow for diversity of height, depth structure and options that make a much more pleasant environment, helps prevent traffic gridlocks (e.g. if there are longer driveways to parking ticket machines), and the already SUPER HOT GLARING SIDEWALK caused by the addition of aluminum panels to the building next door, less severe.
lampshade August 05, 2011 at 08:12 PM
I agree joninla, larger park space and setbacks would be better design elements imo even if that means having a taller building. We already have Ticketmaster's high rise across the street and a 6-7 story tall IAC building next door. This is not a suburban intersection. We shouldn't fear height. However, we should push for some nice green space on the strip.
joninla August 05, 2011 at 09:33 PM
Exactly my point. If it is going to be built, then build it so that everyone is as happy with the outcome as possible. These City Mandated Restrictions ends up with Completed Projects that makes nobody happy (both my opinion as as demonstrated by the repeated failure of each new project - failure = Underrented/sold Good point about the old IAC building. Had that same old building been built twice as high but only using half the lot, it would be a lot less oppressive from Sunset either by car or by foot. It is just this absolute height restriction (which sounds good) but as NY City proved, it is as nice as it is today because the City imposed mandatory setback restrictions and greenery on new skyscrapers. Outcome - fabulous. The new constructions are very, very attractive and sell out before completion. LA will never become a NY city of endless canyons - unless WeHo keeps imposing rules where buildings are built to the very edge of the property line, limited to 4-6 floors, and a block of a structure (one after another) creates the unpleasant and disoreinting "canyon" effect.
joninla November 03, 2011 at 07:28 AM
Who is really going to decide. A tiny bit of research ... It is 100% up to the whims (or wallets) of the City Council. FROM THE WEHO OFFICIAL WEB SITE: Who is on the "Planning Commissions" for these outrageous projects? 5 hand picked people chosen at the sole discretion of the City Council Members. The Council wants to spend money on a crazy project, and tell the Commission who frames it as best as possible so the residents will likely not object, and if they do, each person get's 2 minutes only ... which the Commission ignores. The 'planning commission' is just the City Council using Proxies: =============================== Planning Commission The Planning Commission was created on December 5, 1985 and consists of five (5) members, appointed by individual Councilmembers, and two (2) members appointed by the Council as a whole (at-large). Each member of the Commission shall serve a two-year term commencing June 1st following a general municipal election. Members shall be residents of the City and shall not be officers or employees of the City. The Planning Commission shall have and exercise all of the powers, duties, rights, privileges and authorities of City Planning Commissions as set forth in the State Planning and Zoning Law. =========================================== to summarize: 5 members appointed, one by each of the individual Council Member's. 2 members by vote of the whole 5 Member City Council (majority I assume

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