The controversial Centrum Sunset project will no longer be heard at Monday’s City Council meeting now that the developer has allegedly pulled the plug.
Sol Barket, the developer of the Centrum Sunset project set to go into the old Tower Records location at 8801 Sunset Blvd, sent an email to city officials early Sunday morning indicating he was withdrawing the project because he did not think he had the votes from the City Council for the project to pass.
News of the withdrawal left the town buzzing Sunday. Weho Patch heard from an official Centrum spokesperson in the late afternoon, who said the project was not being withdrawn permanently. They were merely asking for a month-long continuance before coming back to the council.
“We are going to continue it until the first meeting in April so we can explore more options,” Centrum Sunset spokesperson Brian Lewis told Patch. Lewis said he could not elaborate any further until he met with Centrum officials.
At this point, the future of the project is unclear since it is not known whether a person can take back a withdrawal.
Elyse Eisenberg, who spearheaded neighborhood opposition to Centrum Sunset, said she read the email as a permanent stop to the project.
“Sol is the face of the project. His email clearly indicated he was withdrawing the project and said nothing about continuing it to a later date,” Eisenberg said. “The email was highly emotional in tone. It seems that clearer heads have weighed in on the matter if they’re now saying it’s just temporary.”
Mayor Pro Tem Jeff Prang told Patch he interpreted Barket’s email as officially withdrawing the application.
“The email said he was formally withdrawing the project and that he was disappointed he couldn’t see it through to completion,” Prang said.
The Centrum Sunset project has been controversial since it was first proposed five years ago. Barket initially proposed erecting a three-story, 52,000 square-foot building that included ground-level retail space, a David Barton high-end specialty gym on the second level and office space on the third level. The project also had video signage wrapping around the south and east sides of building.
The , so the developer was set to come back to the council with revised plans for a three-story, 47,000-square foot building that still included the David Barton gym, retail and office space. The revised plan also included a restaurant with outdoor seating on ground level, expanded parking and reduced video signage.
Residents in the area objected to the project mainly because of the video signage and the estimated 1,200 car trips it would generate for the already congested Sunset-Horn-Holloway intersection.
“This was always a bad intersection when it was Tower Records. A gym, office and restaurant was unimaginable,” said Eisenberg who lives on Horn Avenue, above the project. “The intensity of use at the bottom of our street was something that was giving the neighborhood nightmares – 10 times the amount of traffic that Tower generated.”
Former Planning Commissioner John Altschul, who is set to rejoin that commission next month, was also concerned. Since he lives within 500 feet of the project, Altschul had to recuse himself from any commission votes on the project.
“I think the biggest downside of the gym project was the intrusion of commercial traffic into residential streets,” Altschul said. “The various designs weren’t neighborhood friendly and didn’t give anything to the city. The signage wasn’t respectful to the Sunset Specific Plan.”
In his email to city officials, Barket indicated he would put a Walgreens drug store in the location instead.
Weho Patch will be covering Monday's City Council meeting. Stay tuned for the follow-up story.