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W Hotel officials sue Millennium developers

By Aaron Blevins, 8/23/2013

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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 W Hotel has filed a lawsuit against the developers of the Millennium Hollywood project, according to an attorney representing the hotel. (rendering courtesy of Millennium Partners)

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.

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9 Responses to “W Hotel officials sue Millennium developers”

  1. Any claim that there is no evidence that suggests that a fault line runs directly under the project site is an absurdity. O’Farrell was presented with the evidence that the Hollywood Fault ran directly through the middle of the west site when he read the geology reports in exhibits attached to the two appeals.

    The LA Times article the day after the City Council voted to approve the Millennium Project said: “Parrish said Wednesday that a map drawn by his agency in 2010 showed that the Hollywood fault “goes right through the Millennium site.”

    The Park La Brea News Beverly Press on July 4, 2013 reported: “Brian Lewis, a spokesman for the developers, said available evidence suggests that the Hollywood fault runs in the vicinity of the project site, but it has never been specifically mapped.”

  2. emma riordan says:

    ‘“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.’ That is exactly what his mentor Garcetti said. When was O’Farrell ever in this area looking over things and what needs to built here? He was engaged in communities east of Hollywood… never here. He is reciting Garcetti’s mantra word for word. O’Farrell is Millennium’s and Garcetti’s puppet. He may have started out with a good and caring heart but sadly wound up corrupted by Millennium money, doing their bidding, just as Garcetti sold out to them years ago. He is now so in over his head all he can do is appease his boss Phil Aarons. This Millennium money corruption is tragic for the future of Hollywood but even more tragic for O’Farrell as it is already over for him.

  3. Scott Zwartz says:

    In Los Angeles, Environmental Impact Reports [EIRs] have ceased to be professional studies that provide the public with all the facts and analysis so that the public may make comments, but instead they have become Propaganda with a single objective — to justify the project. In order to produce the propaganda, the developers have to conceal all the negative facts and present no alternatives, leaving the public with no real basis to make input.

    The worst example of an EIR as Propaganda is Garcetti’s fraudulent Hollywood Community Plan which asserted that it was based on population data from Southern California Association of Governments [SCAG]. Garcetti said according to SCAG, Hollywood had a population of 224,426 people in 2005, and therefore it was only reasonable to construct enough mixed-use development for 250,000 in 2030 — that was only 1,000 new people per year.

    It was an outright lie. Garcetti’s Hywd Plan withheld the actual SCAG documents from the Administrative Record and when the citizens went looking for the SCAG data, they discovered that SCAG had said Hollywood’s population in 2005 was only 200,546 people. That was 24,000 fewer people than Garcetti had claimed. The SCAG data was provided to the city the years before the Hywd Plan was approved in June 2012.

    More important than the material fraud about the Hywd’s population was the proof that Hywd had been losing population since 1990 and never had a population increase after 1990.

    Year Number of people source of data
    1990 213,883 people per US Census
    2000 210,794 people per US Census
    2005 200,546 people per SCAG
    2010 198,228 people per US Census

    Analysis of Hollywood’s population loss shows that it is from Garcetti’s CD #13 and not LaBonge’s CD #4. In fact CD #13 lost so many people that it ceased to qualify as a legal district. As a 1925 law requires Los Angeles to have 15 council districts, the City would not allow CD #13 to be absorbed into the surrounding districts which had not been destroyed by their councilmembers, but instead the city took portions of the other districts and added them to CD #13. Then during his run for Major, Garcetti claimed the good things that happened in those other districts as his achievements, but I digress.

    Because the Hywd Plan is a Propaganda for some judge to rubber stamp as A-OK, it failed to advised anyone of the reality — The mixed-use projects were causing people to flee Hollywood and these developers were going to have virtually no tenants.

    The W Hotel supposedly sold only 15% of its condos in its first two years and now it has to face up to 500 units right across the street and the millennium units can now be constructed so as to provide maximum blockage of the view of the Hills from the W Hotel condos. That way the Millennium can gain a competitive edge in a real estate market which is already grossly over-built.

    Everyone in the City including the avaricious developers would have been far better off if Garcetti had not “Fraudulentized” the EIRs so that they become lying piece of propaganda.

  4. Rudolf Martin says:

    “no evidence” of fault line location? seriously, Mitch? how about the California Geological Survey? but you’re right, the developers have certainly proven to be … uhh…flexible. an important qualification, no doubt!

  5. Do you have a copy of the lawsuit that you can post?

  6. fitz fitzgerald says:

    Just what exactly is slippery W up to, this time ?

  7. Bill Miller says:

    Mr. Abrahams is correct:“Parrish said Wednesday that a map drawn by his agency in 2010 showed that the Hollywood fault “goes right through the Millennium site.”
    2010! And since Garcetti manipulated the unanimous council vote passing the ILLEGAL Hollywood Community Plan, based on totally FALSE POPULATION DATA, that Garcetti was fully aware of, and FALSE ACTIVE FAULT LINE INFORMATION,on June 19, 2012, to accommodate his big funder’s (Millennium’s) projects… to be built ON the active fault line….Not only do Millennium’s illegal and dangerous projects have to be shut down, but the Hollywood Community Plan needs to be thrown out.. along with Eric Garcetti and O’Farrell for doing their big campaign funder’s bidding at the expense of people’s lives. .

  8. Alek F says:

    This is yet another case of absurd NIMBY’ism. However, the W Hotel has reached a new low, by filing this frivolous lawsuit. I think it’s pretty obvious that the W Hotel is just scared of competition. I hope the judge will have enough common sense to throw out this ridiculous, senseless lawsuit. Shame on the W Hotel!


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