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Showtime Delayed for Hollywood Towers

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

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LOS ANGELES—A pair of mixed-use skyscrapers—Hollywood's biggest development ever—will have to wait a while longer for their big premiere, according to local reports.

A California judge has ordered the developer of the controversial Millennium Hollywood project back to the drawing board after finding city-led traffic assessments did not fully address concerns raised by the state’s transportation authority.

Millennium Towers

Designed by Handel Architects, the Millennium Hollywood towers would be the largest development in Hollywood history. Local neighborhood associations have been working for years to derail the project, according to reports.

The 39- and 35-story buildings—vehemently opposed by local neighborhood groups—would be the largest development in Hollywood history and would be constructed on two vacant parking lots next to the iconic Capitol Records tower, the Los Angeles Times reported.

But, for now, the ruling issued Thursday (April 30), means that New York-based Millennium Partners must draft a new environmental impact report if it wants to move forward with the office, hotel, residential and retail space.

Reports say that process could take years.

City council first approved the project in 2013; however building permits have not yet been issued.

Towers Hit Roadblock

Los Angeles County Superior Court Judge James Chalfant halted the project, siding in favor of several neighborhood groups who petitioned the court to review the project approvals and process.

Chalfant said that the city-led traffic studies included in the developer’s environmental impact report did not address traffic concerns raised by Caltrans.

Caltrans believes the towers, as proposed, would lead to increased congestion on the on-and off-ramps of the nearby 101 freeway and other nearby intersections.

101 freeway
Downtowngal / Wikimedia Commons / CC BY 3.0

Caltrans believes the towers, as proposed, would lead to increased congestion on the on-and off-ramps of the nearby 101 freeway and other nearby intersections.

The agency said the state highway system would be “significantly impacted” by the project in its current form, contrary to the developer’s draft environmental report that said the project would result in a “less-than-significant” impact on traffic.

Ruling Details

In his ruling, the judge also took issue with the developer’s description of the project, saying that it was overly vague, according to the Los Angeles Times.

“A developer must present an accurate and stable picture of the project so that the public and decision-makers can decide whether its environmental consequences are outweighed by its public benefits,” he wrote.

On the other hand, the judge mostly dismissed the argument by the Beachwood Canyon Neighborhood Association and others that the towers would be constructed too close to an active fault line, Los Angeles Magazine reported.

In November 2014, state geologists concluded that an active earthquake fault line ran under the planned project, reports noted.

California Geological Survey
California Geological Survey

State geologists have determined the proposed construction lies under a fault line that runs through Hollywood.

The developer, however, has disputed the state’s maps.

Before any construction permits can be issued, the developer has to prove the building would not sit on the fault line, the Times reports.

Developer: ‘Not Discouraged’

In responding to the ruling, Phillip Aarons, of Millennium Partners, said he would continue to pursue the $664 million project.

“The project is certainly not dead,” Aarons told the Los Angeles Times. “We’re going to keep it going. We’re not discouraged by today’s court hearing.”

Neighborhood Victories

The ruling is a fourth victory for neighborhood groups who have worked to derail development in Hollywood, reports relate.

The groups have been able to stop construction on a half-built Target store and have emptied a new 22-story residential tower on Sunset Boulevard.

They also fought to strike down a city approved new zoning plan that would have allowed larger buildings in parts of Hollywood.

Meanwhile, city officials say development in the heart of Hollywood is necessary to bring jobs to the area.


Tagged categories: Commercial / Architectural; Construction; Developers; Government; Regulations; Roads/Highways

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