El Mirador owner Jerome Nash said Friday that he and the West Hollywood City Council have come to a standstill regarding the restoration of the historic apartment building, and if the two are unable to renegotiate a development agreement, he will begin to take the steps necessary to protest the actions of the council and demolish the building.
Nash wishes to transform the historic apartment building into an urban inn, but claims that the council is set on the building being transformed into condominiums.
“I suggested we have discussions about how we can come to an agreement and they just basically pinned down something and said, ‘Take it or leave it,’” Nash said.
At the Sept. 4 council meeting, council members finalized a rehabilitation agreement for the El Mirador, which allows for the building to be converted to either an urban inn or condominiums. A vote of 3-2 pushed the ordinance through, with Mayor Pro Tem Abbe Land and Councilman John Heilman voting against the proposal.
Nash, who bought the building in 2002, has consistently reiterated that he will not agree to the terms of a development agreement that he says has been modified to fit the preferences of the council.
“City Attorney Mike Jenkins told me that he asked them to take it off the consent calendar so we can have further discussions," Nash said, referring to Monday's council meeting. "They didn’t want to do it.”
After much debate regarding the rehabilitation project, members of the council this week said that Nash has a responsibility to present new ideas to the council if he hopes to begin on the restoration.
"We passed our version of the development agreement," Councilman John Duran said Wednesday. "However, Mr. Nash has indicated that he doesn't agree with the terms we have set forth. So we have an inchoate agreement. In other words, no agreement.
"It's probably up to Mr. Nash at this point to come back to the bargaining table with other ideas for discussion and consideration. We can review and assess at that point. But for now, the project is dead in the water."
Mayor Jeffrey Prang said Thursday that the council has approved as many of Nash's requests as they care to at this point.
“He has the building and he has requested to do certain things," Prang said. "We granted him authorization to do some things, but at this point, it’s no longer in the city’s hand. It’s up to him. If he has a proposal that he wants to come back and submit to us, we’re certainly willing to listen.”
Councilman John D'Amico said Friday that during his short time in office, the El Mirador restoration discussions have stretched over many months, leaving all involved quite drained.
“We have very thoughtfully, over many months, tried to carefully consider all the options and bring the history of the project to an end," D'Amico said. "Mr. Nash has in his hands a development agreement that provides him with a lot of flexibility to begin to renovate that building. At this point, he has not signed it and if it’s his intention to ask us to revisit the development agreement, I don’t know of anyone who has much energy around doing that.”
According to Nash, exemptions that were offered to him during an initial agreement that he constructed with Jenkins have now been revoked by the council after his plans for an urban inn became clear.
Part of the development agreement that the city council approved at the Sept. 4 meeting was that the city would waive nearly $1 million in fees, a majority of which would have gone into the city’s affordable housing fund.
However, if Nash chose to convert the property into an urban inn, the city refused to waive those specific fees. Instead, the council modified the agreement and it now requires Nash to pay the $924,000 into the affordable housing fund, if he chose a commercial property like an urban inn.
Duran did maintain that the council wishes to protect and restore the building, but that Nash must approach the drawing board with ideas that are in the best interest of everyone involved.
"I would add that while we have not yet come to terms with Mr. Nash, it remains the council's desire to protect this historic property from demolition," Duran said. "We are looking for a solution that preserves the historic building, maintains our affordable housing stock and doesn't detrimentally impact the neighborhood."
Nash said Friday that he believes the council's decision to be unfair and untrustworthy.
“City Attorney Mike Jenkins and I negotiated an agreement for months," Nash said. "It was put in front of City Council and they just decided to change it. But if you come up with an agreement, shouldn’t you go to the person and tell them you changed it? They didn’t do that.
“Bottom line is, the building is sitting there rotting away, and I’m going to move forward with having it disassembled if this is the way it’s going to go.”