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City Council Rejects Centrum Sunset Again

The project proposed for the old Tower Records location comes back to the Council without its most controversial component, a David Barton gym, but the Council has other issues with the building and denies it.

West Hollywood’s City Council rejected the latest proposal for the controversial Centrum Sunset project at its Monday night meeting.

The project at the old Tower Records location at 8801 Sunset Blvd came back before the Council after being . The on the three-story, 47,690 square foot building – the upscale David Barton Gym and the one of the billboards. It also reduced the length of the four-panel video sign.

No tenants have been announced for the building, although developer Sol Barket asked for a last-minute continuance of 60 days, saying he’d just lined up a tenant but couldn’t yet announce the name. The council rejected that request and held the hearing as scheduled.

Later, Barket offered to give the Council final approval over that anchor tenant as a condition of approving the building, saying that was an offer he had never before made. While the Council was concerned that the tenants in the building be quality tenants, that offer wasn’t enough to sway them.

Councilmember John Heilman said the project “isn’t there yet” and that it is an “opportunity that hasn’t really come to fruition.”

Heilman said there was nothing special about the proposed building and if the council was going to ask the neighborhood to put up with the extra traffic generated by project, the benefits should outweigh the impacts. Heilman also said that the overall size of the project was still a challenge as was the video sign.

Mayor Pro Tem Abbe Land had similar problems with the size and video signage saying it felt like a project being built merely to house a video billboard.

“It would be shortsighted to approve this,” Land said. “It’s not the right building for that corner at this time in West Hollywood.”

Mayor Jeff Prang said the project had improved considerably over the last six years, but still had significant problems. Prang too, said it was a building created to house signage, calling it “architecture being driven by outdoor advertising.”

Councilmember John D’Amico liked the design of the building and said he didn’t want to see such an important location go undeveloped. Yet in the end, D’Amico also joined the majority in voting against the project.

The Council voted 4-1 to reject the project, Councilmember John Duran casting the sole vote for it.

90069 August 21, 2012 at 09:19 PM
Thank you Duran for standing up and voting for this project. it is shameful how this lot has gone undeveloped for years and adds little value to the community. We now have a developer willing to invest in a class A retail and office building only to be constantly ridiculed by the council. I'm surprised D'Amico relented and joined the other council members who are only voting against this because of out spoken individuals that live north of Sunset. Those south of Sunset would love to see this happen. I wish David Barton Gym was going there and not Santa Monica!
Jerome Cleary August 21, 2012 at 10:16 PM
Dear 90069 (wish you had the balls to use your real name!) Any new project needs to have a solid long term lease tenants as you can see presently all the empty retail and office space up and down Sunset Blvd. And you do not speak for all the residents who live South of Sunset Blvd. Many of those living South had been to previous meetings and offered their opinions which were not pro this development. The City Council wanted to make sure long term viable tenants would be in place since if a less secure tenant took a lease and then went belly up in this economy then again it would be more empty retail and office space on Sunset Blvd. The current tenant: Live On Sunset is a great retail store and if you have been inside and took a look at this store you hopefully would be able to see that it's a great addition to the Sunset Strip. In addition, this project's traffic study numbers still had over 1200 vehicles and over 550 u-turns on Sunset every day. Which is a disaster for the already many times a day gridlock Sunset Strip in this area. Just approving this project as is would have been also a financial disaster for the current merchants on the Sunset Strip as if we had even worse gridlock then many customers would shop and dine elsewhere. If David Barton gym opens in Santa Monica and Century City then I'm sure you can still join and go to that gym. And the outspoken individuals in our city are what makes for a passionate debate on each and every project and issue.
joninla August 22, 2012 at 01:58 AM
Nimby's opinions aside, the hypocracy of Heilman and Land having a single word about this project's negative impact on our city is absurd. With the massive 2 new Sunset Blvd. Hotels that are to be built (with the details of these mega developers huge projects being kept secret and not part of the same stupid process this Centrum Project and other small condo/commercial development have to go through) and the already approved reduction in number of parking spaces in the hundreds for projects 10 time the size or more should be enough to open the eyes of the people of west hollywood who think this is about what is best for the city. This is about what Heilman/Land can get out of this developer (campaign contributions, gifts, name signage for John, 'incentives' not used and given to Heilmans other hotel projects etc...) Thr 'dead spots' along The Strip was of great concern just the other day re banks. The delapodated old tower records is worse than a 'dead space' .. It's an active turn off to tourists and why the Nimby's like the current retail tenant so much. Not many people want to even go and look inside that ugly old site.
Jerome Cleary August 22, 2012 at 06:57 AM
Hey Jon: it's actually not an ugly site or store. I took a friend in that lives not in West Hollywood and she thought the store was fantastic and shopped there for over 2 hours. Not every site or structure that is older has to be demolished for a mega development. This happens to be a very complicated intersection that gets gridlocked quite easily throughout the week and weekend. First responders for 911 calls have to be able to get to visitors and residents timely for an emergency. Proper traffic circulation is important too. Having viable businesses that don't go under are really important. Why just approve stuff if it ends up being vacant a few years later? I mentioned the other approved Sunset Strip projects as being also detrimental to the traffic flow on Sunset Blvd. And I mentioned also that approving this one would be the nail in the coffin to the present merchants on the Sunset Strip. I still do not understand why some people think this project would be approved without taking into account the nearly dozen other variables involved.
joninla August 22, 2012 at 07:47 AM
Yeah, you keep forgetting to mention your Nimby personal interests in opposing this project along with a bunch of ridiculous excuses like 'the nail in the coffin'. Then again, if a friend of yours from out of town liked shopping in the current store renting space ... case closed. It must be a fabulous store that everyone loves. Far from objective, but that never seems to be mentioned in your silly reasons to oppose this project.
Truth for the People August 22, 2012 at 10:57 AM
If they paid more money to West Hollywood city council like Jerome Nash did to convert El Mirador Apt. then it would have passed. Remember CASH is what is need to buy oops influence those not good ol'boys in city hall.
Wesley McDowell August 22, 2012 at 05:12 PM
As a resident of Palm, south of Sunset, I can just imagine how much more traffic we will have with this project since the already screwed up intersection at Palm/Holloway/Sunset will be overloaded with cars going into this site. This building does look pretty good in the drawings. Don't they all? Even so, I have to agree that the Heilman/Land team is at it again. Sunset is so congested so much of the time and they seem to have little interest in mitigating but a lot of interest in extracting "donations" to their projects. Let's just wait and see how much this developer or Nash or those hotels on Sunset donate to The Trevor Project, among others. As the saying goes, follow the money!
West Hollywood Central August 22, 2012 at 10:58 PM
I don't know enough about this project to know if it's good or bad. It doesn't LOOK overly big. But regardless, I'm really confused as to why this isn't sailing through the City Council? They love this kind of stuff; it looks modern and different, and most importantly it is DEVELOPMENT! Have they not hired the right consultants or not made the right contributions? Who have they pissed off? Seriously...what is going on????
Jerome Cleary August 23, 2012 at 02:33 AM
Jon, yes I live right adjacent to the proposed project that got denied and I based all of of my reasons, though you call them silly based on the city's actual traffic study. Are you telling us that you have never seen the bad gridlock in this area during the day and night? My friend was not from out of town she was from West LA. So Jon, tell us all which section of town do you live in West Hollywood?
jimmy August 23, 2012 at 02:49 AM
John Duran voted for this project cause he likes urban billboard blight from out of town developers. I think the site is gorgeous as is. I'm sure all the Russian residents on the East side are all breathing a sigh of relief, knowing that this development has been stopped. All the Section Eighters will be happy too. This is going to bring the city together.

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