By Edwin Folven, 8/23/2012
Developer has tried twice, unsuccessfully, to get a project approved
The future of the former Tower Records site on Sunset Boulevard remains in limbo after the West Hollywood City Council voted 4-1 Monday to deny a project that would have brought retail and office space to the parcel.
The developer, Centrum Partners, has been trying to build a project at the corner of Sunset Boulevard and Horn Avenue since 2007. In May, the West Hollywood City Council denied a project proposed by Centrum that had a David Barton Gym as its centerpiece, but left the door open for the developer to come back with a revised design. While some councilmembers thought the new design, which did not include the gym, was an improvement, a lack of designated tenants, and parking and traffic impacts, prompted a majority of them to deny the project.
Councilman John Duran cast the sole affirmative vote, and said it is time that something is built at the corner.
“I think the intersection of Sunset and Horn is problematic. It’s a part of Sunset that is unique, but it is not up to par with the east end of Sunset, with its high-end restaurants and shops, and the west end of The Strip, with The Rainbow and The Roxy, which I like to call ‘chic grunge’. This part of The Strip is a troubled area that is underdeveloped, and needs some sprucing up.”
Sol Barket, who leads Centrum Partners, was unavailable for comment, according to Brian Lewis, of Marathon Communications, which represents the developer. A clothing retailer, Live! On Sunset, is currently leasing the building that was vacated by Tower Records in 2006.
Centrum had proposed an approximately 47,700-square-foot, three-story building with 18,600-square-feet of retail space and just over 20,000-square-feet of offices. The original plan denied in May included a video sign that wrapped around the building on Sunset Boulevard and Horn Avenue. Residents complained that the sign’s lighting would negatively impact their quality of life, so the developer scaled back the size of the sign for the new proposal. Other than the sign, the new design was similar to the previous proposal, with the gym omitted.
West Hollywood Mayor Jeffrey Prang said the fact that no tenants had been identified prompted him to vote against the project. He said although the new design was “attractive”, it did not fit his idea of what should be built at the site.
“We need something iconic and representative of that intersection,” Prang said. “I do want to see something that upholds the pedestrian environment. It could be a restaurant or maybe an Apple Store, but I’m not a developer, so I’ll leave it up to them.”
Councilman John Heilman commended Centrum for making changes to the original project, but said it was still too large for the corner.
“I think the developer did try, and made some progress, but it’s still a big project and we don’t know who the main tenant would be. It’s hard to approve a project with the impacts this would have without knowing who you would get,” Heilman added. “I think a project should be opened there, and will be opened there eventually, but it would have to be a project with less impacts on the community.”
West Hollywood Mayor Pro Tempore Abbe Land did not return a call seeking comment. Councilmember John D’Amico added that he opposed the project because there was a lack of consensus among the council on what should be built at the site.
“I voted against the project, but I wasn’t against the project being there. I was just aware that there was no consensus,” D’Amico said. “I think it’s unfortunate because I think a nice building needs to be there. I’m saddened because I think nothing will happen, and I think it will not be a very interesting corner for the next ten years.”