For more than a year now, construction has been at a standstill on Hollywood’s new Target store at the corner of Sunset and Western Avenue. This would be Hollywood’s first “department” store since Sears closed their nearby store in 2008. This store will allow Hollywood residents to shop locally without having to leave the community for many necessities, and it will provide 250 critically-needed jobs for the neighborhood – if it is allowed to open.
Construction ceased because a neighborhood group sued, complaining that the City should not have granted an exception to what is known as the Station Neighborhood Area Plan (SNAP) that governs construction in the area. A judge agreed and said the City should have changed the zoning on the property rather than granting an exception.
The City has now come back with a recommendation to meet the judge’s order by proposing a new Subarea F specific plan amendment to apply to large scale highway-oriented commercial projects. This is a reasonable addition to the SNAP ordinance that addresses how superstores can properly fit into the urban context.
However from the tone of the first hearing last month, some residents are still not satisfied. A few even called for the half-built Target to be torn down and rebuilt to the 35-ft. height allowed by the SNAP ordinance, with underground parking.
It may help to provide a little more background. The SNAP ordinance allows mixed-use projects (retail and residential together) to be built to a height of up to 75-feet. If a project is not mixed-use, it is only allowed to build as high as 35-feet. The City had felt the benefits of the Target project to the community merited an exception to SNAP to allow for the project to be built to the higher height.
Why are these residents so insistent on the 35-ft. height? Some said that their desire is to have more mixed-use projects to meet the need for housing in the area. Others pointed out that the Target in West Hollywood has underground parking and so this one should as well.
Now, by my latest calculations, there are 320 housing units under construction at the moment within the SNAP area and another 762 units in the pipeline. That is nearly 1,100 housing units. Exactly, how many housing units do they want to see? Is it their object that every project that is built within SNAP be a mixed-use project?
As far as the desire to have underground parking, I would again ask why the parking must be underground. The design of this project is such that the parking would be shielded and there would be other retail on the ground floor. It is not going to be unsightly. What is unsightly is this half-finished building.
Within the last month, two new mixed-use projects have been announced across the street on two sides of the Target. Each of these will be six or seven stories and up to the 75-foot height limit. So what would we be achieving by forcing the Target to be reduced to 35-feet? Certainly not any view protection. There is no reasonable rationale as to why a strictly-retail center should be limited to 35-feet when its neighboring buildings are at 75-feet.
The proposed new Subarea F designation for retail makes sense and should be approved.by the Planning Commission when it meets this coming Thursday, November 12th, at 8:30 a.m. at City Hall. If you agree with me, I would urge you to attend the hearing and let the commissioners know that Hollywood needs this project and its 250 jobs. It is time to move forward with a project that will benefit this community.
Leron Gubler has been serving as the President and CEO of the Hollywood Chamber of Commerce for the past 23 years. His tenure since 1992 continues to oversee the great comeback story of Hollywood