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Weho Walgreens Project Back for Planning Commission Approval

A proposed commercial and residential project that has been bogged down in the West Hollywood City Planning Department returns for a final vote.

There is likely to be a lot of excitement at tonight's Planning Commission meeting. Just about the only item on the agenda is a public hearing for the controversial West Hollywood Walgreens project.

Developer Pacific Development Partners first applied for a three-story, modernist mixed-use building to replace the forlorn stripmall at Santa Monica Boulevard and Crescent Heights in 2007.

Neighbors complained of ensuing traffic problems and uncovered issues of toxicity, which led to a city-mandated Environmental Impact Report (EIR) in 2009. The result, Curbed LA reported, was a downsizing of the development from a total of 52,000 square feet to 36,000, and from 28 units to 20, with a two-unit freestanding housing structure on nearby Hayvenhurst.

The Planning Commission will hear one last time from the community at its regular meeting at 6:30 p.m. in Council Chambers (streaming live on WehoTV), then decide whether or not to certify a final EIR in order to approve the project. Those in opposition are counting on an appeal.

"If they approve this project, that's it; unless the decision is appealed," the Walgreens=Overdevelopment blog announced on Jan. 12. "Walgreens could get a green light to start demolition and start building in less than two weeks!"

The project is scheduled to begin in January 2013, at which point all commercial structures and associated surface parking lots on the almost one-acre site will be demolished, and replaced with 15,414 square feet of specialty retail stores, including Walgreens, and an 86-space subterranean garage.

The Stop Walgreens in West Hollywood Facebook page is encouraging residents—whether for or against the project—to attend the meeting.

"We encourage those who are for the Walgreens going in, as well as those against Walgreens going in on SMB and Crescent Heights, to attend and speak at the Planning Commission this Thursday. The Commission should hear all the various opinions in the community so they can make a decision that hopefully reflects what the community wants."

Stay up to date on West Hollywood news and events, by following @WehoPatch and “like” on Facebook.

Ali January 21, 2012 at 12:09 AM
Whoever said that people without cars are dependent on Trader Joe's since Jons closed seems to have forgotten that there is a Ralph's right across the street from where Jons was located. Why would anybody be dependent on Trader Joe's?
Todd Bianco January 21, 2012 at 12:36 AM
Well, in addition to Capitol Drugs, West Knoll Pharmacy and Marvin's Pharmacy are excellent neighborhood pharmacies that are west of La Cienega. My partner and I only patronize independent pharmacies except for 1 prescription where I'm forced to use Medco's mail order specialty pharmacy. Walgreens needs a West Hollywood zip code so when people are forced to use them under an insurance contract, they can say they are here. They don't care about traffic studies or EIRs, they just want to build the project. Most developers would have given up after all this time, but they own the property and are dead set on building there. They could dispense with 80% of the retail portion and just sell prescription meds. CVS is only there to fill prescriptions. If you go inside, the retail shelves are stripped and/or poorly stocked. Try finding your brand name preferred product. They only have the house brand, if anything at all. I have no desire to go to a corporate robot in a white pharmacy coat to get my prescriptions filled. The gigantic housing project going in where Jon's Market used to be will only snarl traffic worse at Fountain and La Brea. The streets can already barely handle the traffic. While Ralph's is next door, it's much more expensive than Jon's and it doesn't carry the wide variety of affordable ethnic foods.
mjmarshall17@gmail.com January 21, 2012 at 02:55 AM
Traffic, in general, running through West Hollywood is TERRIBLE. As a resident, I moved to the area because everything is within walking distance. What I didn't realize was everytime I leave my house to walk my dog, go to the store or gym, my life is on the line because of the wreckless drivers that are in a hurry to get to where they think they need to be. The intersection at SMB and Crescent Heights is one of the busiest in the area. Bringing in more traffic will only make the traffic worse. If you really want to see the impact, study the intersection where the West Hollywood . Trader Joe's, Starbucks and 24HR fitness is. That is probably the most dangerous intersection in West Hollywood. Second to that would be the intersection of SMB and Larrabee. Additionally, like other posters, there are a number of mixed used developments that are sitting empty. Look at the Hancock Loft project. The lofts were empty forever. Now the best we can get is the AAA and Tender Green's? Really? I'm all for more green space until the city starts efficiently using the spaces they already have. I wonder if any of the City Planners actually walk through West Hollywood and take notice of all the empty retail/commercial space. Think and plan before you act.
mjmarshall17@gmail.com January 21, 2012 at 03:01 AM
One other thought - West Hollywood has many small businesses that are great. Bringing in the corporate giants will only force these places to close because of the competition. CVS is the best example. THEY ARE THE WORSE in every aspect. Walk into Capitol Drugs where they know you by name. Walk into CVS and they treat you like S***!!. Starbuck's gives you service with attitude while Dialogue Cafe greets you with a smile and chat. Support the local small business owner. These businesses were the foundation of the city which gives adds to the cities charm.
joninla January 21, 2012 at 04:40 AM
My comment about the dependence of the Eastside on Trader Joes was based on a coverstation I had with a resident who lives on the eastside and is on the 'disability advisory board' and he along with another person explained how important the old trader joes was to them in their area. I had no idea. As for Ralphs being there, I again wonder too, but have spoken with many people who insisted (before jon's closed) that it was not "the most old, gross and disgusting supermaker that I had ever shopped in" (my opinion was and remains the same about not gone jon's market) but the older, european and hispanic people I know and who loved shopping at Jon's said they had different food and cheaper prices than Ralphs. So I was relating what I've heard from numerous people living on the eastside.
joninla January 21, 2012 at 04:43 AM
huh - you writing makes me wonder if it wasn't my own story you were telling. Our experiences and opinions are very similar. As for the safety problem, I have conditioned myself to never set foot in the street with cars in it until I've made eye contact with the driver (especially if they are on a cell phone) before I dare step into the street to cross with my precious dog.
joninla January 21, 2012 at 04:47 AM
Couldn't agree with you more. There are some wonderful small business that we can choose to take our business to. I just would add Westknoll Pharmacy(tucked in next door to collar and leash) to the list of amazingly wonderful and personal customer service. Also Trader Joes has outstanding service and is one large store that actually provides a lot of jobs for our own local residents. It's nice to have such a community within the massive LA area.
Ali January 21, 2012 at 04:56 AM
The area around the Movieland Project Site has enough traffic already. They should have left that mall alone and not evicted all the businesses except the Trader Joe's. NOBODY that I know was in favor of the GIANT project the Council wanted to put there. Traffic is backed up all the time since the Target project went in. Now they are adding another project directly across the street from it (another mixed use). In addition, there is going to be an apartment project on the other side of the McDonalds plus the Jon's site project. Traffic on LaBrea and Santa Monica Blvds will be a disaster. It's about time some development happens west of Fairfax. We aren't "blighted" anymore east of Fairfax.
Lynn Russell January 21, 2012 at 05:14 AM
Let's make a concerted effort to support independent or family owned businesses because ..... they form a relationship with you, you probably get the best price and service at whatever economic level when you think about it , and they remember your name. They help you out in an emergency, resolve any issue on the spot because not only is it good business , is the right kind of business and their livelihood depends on it. Brilliant and simple...like the handshake deal....so you hVe time to enjoy your life and make others lives meaningful as well. From the small Russian markets east of Fairfax, Charlie Chan that had to move out of their tiny space to Hollywood where their business us booming to countless others. These folks make up the fabric of any community whether you be in Paris, West Hollywood, , Milan, London or Timbuktu which is not only just a theoretical destination but a great place thanks to the nomadic people.
Ali January 21, 2012 at 05:37 AM
I have had nothing but good experiences at the Rite Aid at SM Blvd and La Brea, especially the pharmacy there. They greet me by name and have helped me out when I needed a prescription filled before "time". They have called my insurance co for me and gotten it approved when they didn't have to. The store manager has always been helpful too. I know it is a corporate store, but compared to the one at Fairfax and Sunset, it is night and day.
Lynn Russell January 21, 2012 at 05:40 AM
That intersection is a menace and it doesn't matter whether you are on foot, on a bike, on or off the sidewalk or in a car. The vortex of the unbelievable is scarier than scary. In the blink of an eye you could kill the guy darting out in traffic in the unlit crosswalks even when barely driving the speed limit, or waiting to make a right turn up into Trader Joe's considering whether you are about to be rear ended or attacked by some cell phone chat-walker taking more than sweet time going across to Starbucks, I made the mistake once of tapping my horn to actually get someone' s attention going to Starbucks after escaping a rear ender and when I finally parked in the TJ's lot nearly had my drivers side window broken before getting put by the "angry walker" who unleashed an unbelievable tirade about his "right of way". Right of way? ...how about the right not to be killed by anything or body that will dare you to stop on a dime when they cross without looking up. Tickets should work for aggressive walkers who are beyond nutty. The point is that the city and its expertise on traffic circulation and development must have some very funny glasses that they look through while drooling over their world class plans because in my opinion it is becoming a superficial, pressure cooker of a sardine can that wouldn't appear even on the least wanted list.
Steve Ward January 21, 2012 at 01:12 PM
Is anyone formally appealing the Planning Commission's decision in order to bring this in front of the Council? Got Pharmacy? http://maps.google.com/maps?oe=utf-8&rls=org.mozilla:en-US:official&client=firefox-a&um=1&ie=UTF-8&q=pharmacies+in+west+hollywood&fb=1&gl=us&hq=pharmacies&hnear=0x80c2bed921f033e3:0x50e44c2d0e8a26a7,West+Hollywood,+CA
Lynn Russell January 21, 2012 at 04:54 PM
Don't think John Murdock was there to do his knitting!
Todd Bianco January 21, 2012 at 05:09 PM
Curbed LA has the detailed renderings of the project. It looks all nice and lovely, but it fills the whole lot and then some. I also don't see any good solution for the exits. A left turn (going north) from the Crescent Heights exit is going to be difficult, at best, and has potential to block southbound traffic. A right turn out of the Havenhurst exit will plop you right into Santa Monica Blvd. If someone tries to turn left onto Santa Monica westbound, it's going to back up traffic trying to get out because it's a narrow two lane street. If you turn left (south) into the Havenhurst residential neighborhood, you might try and cut through the alley over to La Jolla where there is a traffic signal or wind your way down to Romaine or Willoughby. It makes the parking garage entrance and exit on the La Brea Gateway complex seem well designed. At least there are traffic lights at La Brea & Romaine and Santa Monica & Formosa. I have a feeling that even if this is appealed to the City Council, it's pretty much a done deal. http://la.curbed.com/archives/2012/01/upgrade_lohadesigned_weho_walgreens_project_approved.php
meister4weho January 22, 2012 at 02:12 AM
@joninla: not the same commission... some of us were just appointed to the commission in 2011. :-)
joninla January 27, 2012 at 04:06 AM
Here's a thought. This Walgreens project has been under consideration and on the table for years and now there is apparently a major change (surprisingly in favor of small/fewer units) from the original concept that the initial design was first proposed and has been over-analyzed and compromises made that it may not be the best for either the Developers best interests or the neighborhood (and the potential residents who might want to live there). If it is green lighted and the sq footage set and number of units & their size determined, if one started with a blank slate and made a fresh new design from the beginning that was designed for the size & units now determined, the results could be better for everyone. The current plans are revisions of an original design for a much larger project. Apart from the number of years alone being a reason to consider the newer trending style of architecture, there could be a much more accessible final product, that will provide the Tenant (walgreens) better shopping and parking, the street traffic and neighbors being less impacted and creating residential units that could be designed to attract buyers/renters rather than turn them off from their being so close above such a busy intersection (and without what now appears to me an exterior 'grand staircase' that no longer is needed (and looks like a detriment to all & useless without a public park as previously planned.
Lynn Russell January 27, 2012 at 07:06 AM
And the point is?
Ali January 27, 2012 at 07:38 AM
I don't know if you are aware of it, but the Beverly Press has an article in today's issue, on Page 4 about this project. The title of the article is: "WeHo Walgreens Project gets a Green Light." It says that the Planning Commision approved plans for a new Walgreens on that corner and will now go into the design and permitting phase. ..... You can look it up to see the rest of what it says.
Chloe Ross February 01, 2012 at 09:33 PM
For very personal reasons, Ali, I agree with you. TJ's is and always has been a closely held California corporation that is now approaching 150+ stores nationwide. The prices are no longer great and the uniformity of the products offered is a result of dreaded private labeling. The products are dull and reflect this. The community attitude that existed in the time before the mid 90's is truly gone and not to be repeated. The products in terms of contents, however, are clean - a very good thing - but the stores are only as good as the highly untrained and poorly informed employees. They hire many, many idiots. They do not do business with China. Another boon - but many of us see TJ's through a veil that takes us to a kinder, gentler time. Their usual parking lot configuration is - how sad too bad (East WeHo - a major exception) and in their rapid expansion they have lost what made them such a terrific place to shop and work. What has been lost has been replaced by Greed. BTW - the majority of upper management is GOP. Shocked?
Todd Bianco February 01, 2012 at 10:55 PM
Just for the record, Trader Joe's has been owned by a wealthy German family (the Albrechts) for more than 30 years. The same family owns a large supermarket chain - Aldi Nord.
Shawn Thompson February 02, 2012 at 12:38 AM
Yes it is on appeal. Here is the weho news story about it. Walgreens moves forward – to an appeal http://wehonews.com/z/wehonews/archive/page.php?articleID=6840
Shawn Thompson February 02, 2012 at 12:55 AM
The "Hollywood & Highland" style development at La Brea & SMB is anti green in density and is obviously developer driven money in our political system. It's a core example of everything that is happening to create more traffic, more pollution, more density and destructive to our "Urban village"
Lynn Russell February 02, 2012 at 05:11 AM
Folks on this site would benefit by reading Bill Fulton's book THE RELUCTANT METROPOLIS ...The politics of urban growth in Los Angeles. The developers and their "faux cutting edge green projects" have all figured out how to craft deals with the devil in local politics by creating the nearly foolproof monetary stream of keeping the crowned heads of city councils like WH and LA in power. Actually the term devil cuts both ways. Anybody can catch on to this scheme and play in the sandbox....residents be damned. Knowledge is power.
joninla February 04, 2012 at 12:32 AM
I agree, but (fortunately for our city) the State Redevelopment Agency that provided the incentives for the two mega structures may (hopefully) be the very last ones built. Without the State incentives, $ and loan guarantees, the future may be much better and the City Council will have less ability to sell out City Property to Provide the additional parking/housing that the rich developers must include to be permitted these monstrosities - and dump the parking and low income housing requirements onto the City. I call it corruption from what little I know. I hope the end will be coming soon for these over sized City killing mega-structures.
Shawn Thompson February 04, 2012 at 03:47 AM
This seems to be Abbe Land's pet project. The Walgreen's Mega Box, kill more mom and pops @ SMB & Crescent Heights, which has been fought by the residents for YEARS. Is thankfully on appeal to the city council. I'm for protecting whats left of the urban village. I'm optimistic the city council will say no to putting this mega box with condos on top into our city. Here is the petition that the residents created to say no to the mega box traffic jam project a while back. I found it still online tonight. http://www.thepetitionsite.com/takeaction/452/980/157/
joninla February 04, 2012 at 04:26 AM
I am not sure about a "german family" owning Trader Joes. Back in the day (30+ years ago) I used to go to summer camp with the daughter of the owners of Trader Joe's. They lived in San Marino and were (as people go) very nice and as far as I can remember, American with a French sounding last name.
joninla February 04, 2012 at 05:26 AM
Redevelopment Information (for anyone interested) Not sure if or which of WeHo's pending and recently begun projects are affected by the State Wide scrapping of Redevelopment Agency. http://la.curbed.com/archives/2012/02/the_3_people_overseeing_las_redevelopment_agency_and_other_things_to_know_on_redevelopment_death_day.php http://www.dailynews.com/news/ci_19863893
Chloe Ross February 04, 2012 at 07:47 AM
Joninla - TraderJoe's is owned by the Albrecht family weho also owns Aldi's. They are very wealthy German family. Joe Couloumbe sold his interest in the company over 30 years ago. You may not be sure - but I am.
Paul February 04, 2012 at 10:08 AM
I hate the building high rises in already narrow pathways. Keep the existing building already there, clean em up, paint etc..... and put in Walgreens. Save money and improve that filthy corner.
joninla February 05, 2012 at 03:36 AM
Thanks for the long overdue update for my info. I had forgotten the "Couloumbe" family name, but it was their daughter that I went to summer camp with and they were nice people. I had no idea it was sold (especially since some numskull at on local Trader Joe's told me 'oh yeah ... same family still owns it' a couple years ago. Thanks Chloe! :)

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