Judges block city's order to remove tenants from Hollywood high-rise

Order to empty out 22-story Hollywood apartment tower put on hold

A three-judge panel has temporarily halted an order from Los Angeles building inspectors to remove the tenants from a 22-story apartment tower in Hollywood.

The Department of Building and Safety had given developer CIM Group until Thursday to vacate the 299-unit, partially leased structure, which was sparked by a ruling in a lawsuit over the building. But that order was put on hold earlier this month by the state 2nd District Court of Appeal, which is hearing an appeal in the case.

Despite the reprieve, tenants have already begun moving out of the building, known as Sunset and Gordon. Alexander Ali, one of the building's renters, said the stress and uncertainty generated by the city's order prompted him to find another apartment.

"It’s just too much, mentally," Ali said.

The L.A. City Council approved the Sunset and Gordon project in 2012. The La Mirada Avenue Neighborhood Assn. challenged the council's decision, saying CIM Group wrongly demolished a building on the site while preparing it for the new construction. CIM Group was required to preserve the facade of a one-story building on the site as part of the project's approval.

CIM Group said it had obtained the proper demolition permits and built a replica of the building, which had a columned facade and previously housed an Old Spaghetti Factory restaurant. But a judge sided with La Mirada, ruling that the project’s approvals were no longer valid.

The project’s temporary certificate of occupancy -- a document that allows a building to be inhabited -- expired earlier this year. The city declined to renew it and later ordered the building emptied out.

Under the latest court order, La Mirada was required to provide the Court of Appeal with written arguments last week. CIM Group’s attorneys have until Friday to turn in their reply.

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