By Aaron Blevins, 8/23/2013
An attorney representing the W Hotel has filed a lawsuit against the developers of the Millennium Hollywood project, alleging that Millennium Partners and Argent Ventures filed an inadequate environmental impact report (EIR).
The lawsuit, filed Friday, Aug. 23, contends that the developers failed to analyze all environmental impacts — including seismic and geological issues — while planning for the 1.1 million-square-foot development on Vine Street, said Benjamin Reznik, of Jeffer, Mangels, Butler & Mitchell LLP.
“It makes the EIR legally deficient,” he said, adding that the seismic issues are obviously “of concern to everybody.”
Reznik said the hotel was initially concerned with Millennium’s lack of commitment to a particular plan. He said the city approved a “generic, amorphous” project that the developers can alter at any time. As far as hotel officials know, the project could block their guests’ view of the Hollywood Hills or the Hollywood Sign, Reznik said.
“They can change their mind,” he added. “They can change their uses. …They can do it all without any other review or community input.”
The Los Angeles City Council approved the project in June amidst concerns from various entities — perhaps most notably the California Geological Survey — that Millennium would be constructed on an active fault. Before the approval, Councilman Mitch O’Farrell, 13th District, imposed additional conditions in a development agreement that offered funding for affordable housing, public transportation, updated traffic signals and park space.
“I always said we need a good project there, but the buildings were too tall,” O’Farrell said in an interview shortly after the council vote. “They satisfied what my concerns were, and I think it’s going to be a great project. I know it has opposition, and I’m very sensitive to the reasons. …But I came down on the side of — I think the project development team was flexible. They’ve done what I’ve asked for and then some. And lastly, it is going into a place that has been surface parking lots since the 1950s, for nearly sixty years. It’s not like we’re taking space that’s ever been developed. We’re redeveloping at the urban core, at a major eastern anchor of the Hollywood Historic District — Hollywood and Vine.”
He also stated that there is no evidence that suggests that a fault line runs directly under the project site. Millennium Partners and Argent Ventures have agreed to conduct additional seismic studies beyond what the city requires, and if any additional concerns were raised by future seismic studies, the project could be altered, O’Farrell said.
Originally, the developers proposed towers that were 44 and 52 stories tall. When approved, the towers were reduced to 35 and 39 stories, though opponents argue that the density remained the same.
Before the seismic concerns were raised, several community groups expressed concerns about how the project would affect emergency response times, traffic, infrastructure and more. A coalition of those groups, represented by attorney Robert P. Silverstein, is determining whether it also plans to file a lawsuit against the project.
The developers plan to construct Millennium on 4.47 acres of surface parking lots, bringing 492 residential units, 200 hotel rooms, 100,000 square feet of office space, 35,000 square feet of restaurant space, 40,000 square feet for a sports club and 15,000 square feet for retail.
A representative of the developers declined to comment until the lawsuit could be reviewed.
Read Thursday’s Park Labrea News and Beverly Press for more information.