Walgreens Project Gets Green Light From Planning Commission

Controversial mixed-use development at Santa Monica and Crescent Heights boulevards gets final OK, despite some lingering concerns.

Despite some residents' concerns about increased traffic and truck deliveries, the controversial Walgreens development, set for the southwest corner of Santa Monica and Crescent Heights boulevards, got final approval Thursday from the West Hollywood Planning Commission.

The mixed-use project includes 13,276 square feet of retail space for a Walgreens drug store and another 2,138 square feet for other retail stores, plus a rooftop “Sky Park” that can be used for receptions, parties and events.

The largely vacant Crescent Square strip mall that currently sits on the block between Crescent Heights and Havenhurst Avenue will be demolished for the project that also has 20 residential units, four of which will be low-income housing.

The project has been a source of controversy since it was first proposed in 2006 and called for 48 residential units. Pacific Development Partners pared down the scale of the project, first to 28 units, then to the current 20, in an attempt to quell concerns of residents living nearby.

While the majority of public speakers at Thursday’s meeting were in favor of the project, a few were still not satisfied. Residents living adjacent to the project worried about truck deliveries and increased traffic.

To address those concerns, the commission limited delivery hours to 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. and stipulated that no left turns onto Crescent Heights or Havenhurst could be made between 3 p.m. and 7 p.m.

The commission also said that any events on the rooftop Sky Park had to end by 10 p.m. on weeknights, 11 p.m. on weekends.

The restrictions did not satisfy Commissioner Lauren Meister, who cast the sole vote against the project. She told Weho Patch she did not think there was enough attention given to the Havenhurst Avenue side of the project.

Noting the narrowness of Havenhurst (30 feet wide), Meister said, “I had concerns about the delivery trucks entering on Havenhurst into the alley and the close proximity of the loading area to the residential neighborhood.”

After the vote, Ron Recht, manager of Pacific Development Partners, told Patch he was happy with the vote.

“We are absolutely thrilled and we’re happy that the community seems to now [embrace] the project,” Recht said. “We got our approval and I think we’re going to build a project that’s going to clearly stand the test of time.”

Project consultant Steve Afriat added, “We want to thank the Planning Commission. They spent a lot of time on this. They deliberated and their few comments made it a better project, and we appreciate that.”

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Shawn Thompson January 24, 2012 at 12:15 AM
In my own research on the Plummer Park Plan I came across the Draft of the Enviornmental Impact Report. From the report I quote:"Summary of Impacts The proposed project would result in potentially significant unavoidable adverse impacts related to Cultural Resources. Impacts to Aesthetics, Air Quality, Biological Resources, Geology and Soils, Hazards and Hazardous Materials, Hydrology and Water Quality, and Noise would be less than significant with the implementation of recommended mitigation measures. Impacts to Land Use and Planning, Recreation, and Transportation and Circulation would be less than significant and do not require mitigation measures; however, mitigation measures that could further lessen the environmental effect may be suggested if readily available and easily achievable. No impacts to Agricultural Resources, Mineral Resources, Population and Housing, Public Services, and Utilities and Service Systems would occur as a result of the proposed project."
joninla January 24, 2012 at 12:16 AM
Thanks Mike for explaining the details. I think sharing knowledge is one of the best things that comes out of people interacting here on Patch. Thanks. :)
Shawn Thompson January 24, 2012 at 12:16 AM
"The Great Hall/Long Hall is eligible for the California Register for its significant association with the work of the Works Progress Administration (WPA) in Los Angeles County. This building was constructed in 1938 and is the only known WPA building in West Hollywood. Its design conveys the simplicity and public-benefit intentions of the WPA. It embodies the popular sentiments felt toward early California history in the 1920s and 1930s. Although its setting has been compromised by several changes to the surrounding park, and while minor alterations to the exterior and interior of the building have been made, the Great Hall/Long Hall retains sufficient integrity to convey"
Shawn Thompson January 24, 2012 at 12:18 AM
This is from the city's own staff on this project! If your interested the whole document is here: http://www.frontiersla.com/Other/PDF/WeHo%20News/plummerdeir.pdf
joninla January 24, 2012 at 12:23 AM
In case anyone does not know or has forgotten, the Historic Preservation Commissions (just like the planning commissions) is a board of 7, one per each Council Members absolute sole discretion to appoint, the remaining 2 ("at large") are chosen by majority vote of the same 5 Council Member voting. Hardly a Historic Preservation Board with an agenda to do anything that would go against the wishes of the Council to destroy whatever historic location they feel like. From the official (.org) West Hollywood Website: The Historic Preservation Commission (formerly Cultural Heritage Commission) was created on November 6, 1989 and consists of five (5) members appointed directly by a Councilmember, and two (2) members appointed by the Council as a whole (at-large). see for yourselves: http://www.weho.org/index.aspx?page=226 (thanks Sheila for not stopping your efforts to bring the many problems together into the big issues/problems with our City)
joninla January 24, 2012 at 12:30 AM
Whatever may come back to the City via Taxes from these projects (unlike virtually all other Cities in the US) seems secondary to the City Council. They prefer to derive their revenue from Parking Tickets and The Tourist Trade Taxes. Likewise, when they want to spend even more, they just raise the number of tickets and fine per ticket ($3 more per ticked just netted the city a $500,000 annual increase of revenue) and raise the Hotel Tax a percent or two (which is already an unbelievably high per-night tax rate for every hotel room in the City - I don't know the corrrec % around %15-%18 I think). Again, the City just raised the Hotel tax (see Patch article in 2011, sometime, I don't remember, but search & see if curious)
joninla January 24, 2012 at 01:21 AM
Shawn - Thanks for the link. That is one long document. I found many, many problems with what the document says. What do you think are the most important problems everyone should be aware of. What I got from it (my reading) is that Plummer Park will be 'destroyed' (the trees cut down) and the underground parking garage built, with only superficial changes made to the surface structures - with many "'f-you's' were going to build it anyway" messages to the large public voice. They will find (of course) that there will be significant harm to the environment, but the benefit of the project will far outweigh the damage to the environment. (that's my take) What do you think?
Shawn Thompson January 24, 2012 at 08:33 AM
I came across this draft environmental impact report many months ago when I was looking to educate myself on the whole park project and also the process that a project has to go through. What rang a big bell in my head when I reviewed it was that it cites the many negative impacts of the original plans of the project. It lays out the impact on the environment and other areas. The most significant area I thought was the section on "Significant Impacts to Potential Cultural Resources": On great hall/long hall it states: "The Great Hall/Long Hall is eligible for the California Register for its significant association with the work of the Works Progress Administration (WPA) in Los Angeles County. This building was constructed in 1938 and is the only known WPA building in West Hollywood. Its design conveys the simplicity and public-benefit intentions of the WPA. It embodies the popular sentiments felt toward early California history in the 1920s and 1930s. Although its setting has been compromised by several changes to the surrounding park, and while minor alterations to the exterior and interior of the building have been made, the Great Hall/Long Hall retains sufficient integrity to conveyits original location, design, materials, workmanship, feeling, and association. For the same reasons, the Great Hall/Long Hall is also eligible for designation as a City Cultural Resource as one of few (if not only) examples of the work of the WPA in West Hollywood.
Shawn Thompson January 24, 2012 at 08:36 AM
On Fiesta Hall it states: "Fiesta Hall was constructed in 1949 with a stripped-down post-WWII interpretation of the Spanish Colonial Revival style. It was designed by Henry L. Gogerty, a notable architect who designed many large-scale institutional and industrial buildings and complexes and won a national award for his development of a gliding acoustical wall. The auditorium has retained integrity and is a good example of the later Spanish-style civic architecture of the post-WWII era; however, the Fiesta Hall is neither representative nor distinctive enough to be eligible for listing in the California Register, nor is it a particularly distinctive or representative example of Gogerty’s work. However, Fiesta Hall is eligible for designation as a City Cultural Resource because it exemplifies special characteristics of the City’s architectural history and embodies the distinctive characteristics of a post-WWII interpretation of the Spanish Colonial Revival style as applied to a civic building. It is also eligible because it is the work of a notable architect.".....
joninla January 24, 2012 at 08:48 AM
Absent any other known course of action that can be taken so the voice of the people who will loose so much irrevocably if the Environmental Impact Statement is submitted and approved, I would suggest: Compiling all the information about the numbers of people who are opposed to the Plummer Park and the correct approximation of the number large mature trees that will be lost forever for a net of 69 parking spaces. I would then suggest sending a cover letter and copy of whatever printable resident outcry against the proposed plan, and submit it via certified mail directly to the EPA and BEFORE the City submits their Report that the benefits outweigh the cost/harm to the City and that the City Residents input has only superficially be modified, hence the reason for directly making a citizens attempt to get their voices heard when the EPA Report is submitted by the City. Likewise, the statement itself specifies the date and time December-January, for public input itself indicates the false representations made by the City in the Report since the time for input was all during the Christmas-Hanukkah-New Year's Holiday ... Which I think objectively would mean something to an agency looking at the report with as much knowledge about what the people have actually done before they review the City's submission. Just a suggestion for anyone into the effort to stop the City's plans.
Shawn Thompson January 24, 2012 at 08:52 AM
For me it's in black and white apart of the city's record that bulldozing great hall / long hall isn't as simple as wanting to make more "green space" for the "great lawn". Its really about destroying a cultural and historic resource driven by money making agendas. Not enough money in painting it. As far and ripping out the guts of fiesta hall to make it all state of the art. It's states "Therefore, implementation of the improvements to Fiesta Hall would result in a significant adverse impact." Reality check. Fiesta Hall was built in 1949 designed by Henry Gogerty who has many examples of his work in Hollywood and other places in Los Angeles still in place.. Do we need to spend millions of dollars ripping out it's insides so we can have more modern electric gizmos in its belly? To me it’s a no brainier. Fiesta hall should be preserved.. What actually is our "Historic Preservation Committee" preserving? I’m trying to figure that out ever since the Fickett Library the last work of a well-known artitect was bull dozed to make way for some more cement and starter plants. http://blogs.laweekly.com/informer/2011/09/west_hollywood_library_demolished.php
Shawn Thompson January 24, 2012 at 09:03 AM
Here is some back ground information on the buildings in the park... http://www.laweekly.com/2011-10-20/news/fury-over-plummer-park-historic-destruction/
WeHound January 26, 2012 at 07:40 PM
Oh EVERYONE! Stop and drop everything! PAUL doesn't LIKE mixed-use developments, regardless of whether they are good for the merchants or the customers or the neighborhood. Maybe if it was a "mix up" shop of steroids and tanning beds and a diapers-for-seniors store, he'd be on board with it. Man, you always have an opinion on everything, but you never have any facts. Just own bloated self-importance -- oh, and your cursing and name-calling when people disagree with you. Just a big overgrown, over-steroided out, sad queen bully. Seriously, I saw you trying to pick up a guy in his 20s in Capitol Drugs a few weeks ago. He couldn't have been less interested, and you couldn't have been denser about getting the message.
MarkD January 26, 2012 at 08:05 PM
Thank God for the independent pharmacies. The pharmacists know the patients and can take time to explain medications. As opposed to, say, Sav-On (that's the big poured-concrete monstrosity at La Cienega and SMB, right?) where I once had to wait 15 minutes while the blonde "pharmacist" behind the counter finished making her vacation travel arrangements on the phone before she rudely retrieved my prescription refill. It was the last time I ever used that place. I don't know if West Hollywood needs more big box stores or not, but I'm dead-set against anything that's going to squeeze out the last remaining independent pharmacists in order to make room for corporate chain pharmacies.
joninla January 26, 2012 at 10:15 PM
Re: Community input regarding the Walgreens project. I have to say to Sheila, well done and good job. Your ability to focus your meager allotted 2 minutes on issues, your pressing for clarification without offensiveness and bypassing the emotional problems inherent in being allowed an arbitrary 2 minutes do address issues that have been discussed for countless (paid) professional man-hours, was very impressive. This is not meant as an passing compliment, but a serious suggestion that if you had any desire, you consider running for office here in West Hollywood. I would love and think the City and Residents would benefit from a Council member with the skills and public speaking I saw (on video replay) you deliver at the meeting. I would vote for you with confidence that you would at the very least listen to all sides and make your decisions based on a fair assessment of the input given (which will always be contradictory - there is always 2 totally different opinions and we need someone who wants to put the time in and who can reason based on all points of view). Just my opinion.
joninla January 27, 2012 at 04:09 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
Brian R. Adams January 27, 2012 at 05:01 PM
Allegra- I read some of your comments and would like to speak further with you- please email me at Brossadam@aol.com- Thank you.
Shawn Thompson January 28, 2012 at 06:19 AM
Could all that developer money that was put into Abbe Lands re-election fund have any influence on why she was the driver of this Walgreen project for so many years? I think it is. I could be wrong... http://westhollywood.patch.com/articles/developer-dollars-dominate-incumbents-fundraising-reports-show
Shawn Thompson January 28, 2012 at 06:34 AM
Came across this right now in looking to learn more about why so many big buildings keep popping up in WEHO creating more and more environmental damage with density, car fumes from traffic jams and bulldozing existing it's architecture away. I don't think Green = creating more density in developments and forcing cars to crawl on the streets burning the most gas possible at the slowest speeds. I'm so disturbed watching the "Urban Village" slowly sold away for the mega box. Is this what the community really asked for from city hall? http://wehonews.com/z/wehonews/archive/page.php?articleID=5368
joninla January 28, 2012 at 06:55 AM
From what I researched so far, I think the whole b.s. "affordable housing" was all about taking advantage of the Redevelopment Agency Money the state was giving out in the Millions (until this month when the State Stopped the Redevelopment Agencies & the Money). The problem is not with the City applying for Redevelopment money (had that been what's been going on). Rather because the Developers $ got the elected, the city would misuse the Redevelopment Money as follows: There were major 'incentives' for Developers to build IF they "included affordable housing units" ... They they could bypass regular zoning & increase size & profits if built "multi-use" projects with the "affordable units". That would increase the profits to the developer by up to 30%more at the cost of a few 'low income units'. But to make bigger bucks, the Developers got the City Council Member to build the required 'low income units' on City Owned Land, so the developer wouldn't have to actually include those "low income units" in their new giant buildings (jons market & carl's Jr. projects). The Council was basically giving away city property so the Developers could build these giant complexes that nobody wants to or can afford and choose to live it. The Developer/Contractor pads the bill (they always do) and when no sales are made when done, the developer walks away & the State is stuck with the bad loan.
joninla January 28, 2012 at 07:01 AM
AS TO WALGREENS TAKING OVER AND CLOSING THE LOCAL PHARMACIES: Based on actual life long family business being in the Small Drug Store (my grandfather came around 1918 and opened drug stores, uncles et all follwed). The takeover of the mega-pharmacies is an inevitable (If anyone remember Valley Drug in North Hollywood, that was my uncles store and he could not compete and had to go out of business due to the large Pharmacies driving him out of business). BUT - after years of the worst service at CVS (thankfully!) my dr. directed me to Westknoll Pharmacy and by choice I now have the best most personalized, fast and friendly service. Some small pharmacies will have to go out of business, but CHOOSING to go to the small locals instead of the new Walgrees will make one or two small local pharmacies able to stay in business (and you will get better service at the same price)
Don Jones January 28, 2012 at 07:29 PM
@ Jon (in LA) - Walgreens will stay in business even if they don't sell one RX. The reason being, Walgreens changed their business model years ago and the front of the store, brings in more dollars that the RX. The bulk of Walgreens revenue contribution is from the over priced alcohol, groceries, snacks, candy, etc.
joninla January 28, 2012 at 10:05 PM
I don't disagree with you about their business model, in part. My own family experience is just factual, I am have not been connected in any way to that part of my extended family & the closing of my uncle's shop was more of an emotional problem for them rather than a disaster financially - he retired). But there is more to their 'business model' than what the state openly about it (not just walgreens or drug stores ... most corporate chains). The front of the the store is in a symbiotic relationship to bring Prescriptions in, and the Pharmacy brings in retail shopping. The recent addition of food products was an addition CVS also implemented to try to take even more of the local market for almost everything. To say (let say or CVS) is front store driven wouldn't bee so true as they really have poor selections and empty shelves at time. Without knowing how the new Walgreen will choose to focus their marketing, the picture that everyone should expect is the loss of smaller local shops (for good and bad). I just personally discovered that Prescription Medication has such a personal side to it, that it does not do as well in the large mega store as it does in a small pharmacy. I do most of my shopping at CVS & the like. But local Liqueur stores, smoke shops and any small food stores (I can't think of any) will have trouble staying in business. Not judgmental, just factual for those who want to keep local shops, they will need to keep shopping in them.
Shawn Thompson January 30, 2012 at 03:34 PM
To: Joinla, You have some excellent fact gathering skills that really help clarify the process on the mix -use development and the low cost units credits. I learned new stuff from it. I also LOVED your tree pics from the multi million dollar phase 1 or the "Redevelopement" of the weho park. Could you (if your drawn to it) do some type of summary on the whole development process with the mix use and law structuring to help me get a clearer understanding? Unfortunately my brain gets lost at times in what has been allowed to go on the books in all the levels of the zoning and building fine print, paper shuffling, lawyer written and green killing rules. To simplify it would be great to help me get informed and involved better.
Shawn Thompson January 31, 2012 at 06:01 AM
An appeal to the Walgreen's project as they stand has been filed! Love it Walgreens moves forward – to an appeal http://wehonews.com/z/wehonews/archive/page.php?articleID=6840
joninla February 04, 2012 at 01:15 AM
Thanks for thinking I posess any research skills. I did at one point, but no longer. I am only giving what appears to me to be the general framework behind what is actually all the political b.s. about 'green city' 'low income housing' and 'parking' which push projects that have the opposite end results. I always start with what is the 'motivation' for anyone working for the City to take any affirmative action. All actions are usually for votes or money or publicity. Very little is done for the actual benefit of the needed or the benefit of the city (without some personal big perk). But I do think the future may look better (surprisingly so) for the City of WeHo with the disbanding of the Redevelopment Agency system that was driving the crazy overdevelopment (I am not against development, just ones that are too big, ugly, cause increased traffic and which goes unused (both residential & retail space). I wish I could provide better research. But always questoining motivation and being able to fully accept beign wrong, is the best way to learn (I find). The recent comment from an actual taxi-driver was the kind of first hand knowledge that I gained a lot from. I hope more people with particular expertise or just experience will notice and provide anyone with a comment more accurate info.
joninla February 06, 2012 at 02:51 PM
To Shawn: There's nothing wrong with your brain or abilities (I, on the other hand do have actual stroke related problems). Sometimes the obvious falls into your lap. I just pieced the money trail of the City Council's Corruption. Check out my comment (and don't think it's too complicated ..... I just can't write very clearly any more) See my new comment on this old article that I just happened across (I don't even know what link got me there). http://westhollywood.patch.com/articles/candidates-raise-over-395k-in-campaign-contributions
JJ February 07, 2012 at 12:17 AM
welcome to the big city. NY, Chicago...mixed use has been around for a very long time.
Stephanie February 07, 2012 at 04:29 AM
JJ you stated welcome to the big city and refer to NY and CHI who have had mixed use for decades...however, they ARE BIG cities, not 1.9 sq miles in area and we have a mere 34,000 residents. The General Plan is inviting such density with overdevelopment it will have people leaving town. A corridor of 5 to 11 story buildings on both sides of SM Blvd. From Fairfax to La Brea is not What many people desire. Can any of us fathom the traffic as outside developers fulfill their dreams to build more and more buildings of ever increasing heights along both sides of the blvd?
Paul May 10, 2012 at 05:20 PM
Wehound, I don't use steroids and haven't been to Capital drugs in years.


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