Compromise on Hotel Height, Density Proposed

Times Staff Writer

Two West Hollywood City Council members and neighbors opposed to the planned 11-story Ma Maison hotel in nearby Los Angeles have proposed an alternative that would drastically restrict the project's height and density.

Under an informal alternative developed during recent meetings between Councilmen Stephen Schulte and Alan Viterbi and representatives of West Hollywood residents who live near the Beverly Center area, the hotel could not exceed four stories, its density would be lessened and additional parking would be required.

But neither the council members nor the residents are optimistic that their alternative will lead to a compromise. "I can't say I expect very much," Viterbi said. "If we don't come to some mutually agreeable resolution, I'm afraid we'll end up in court."

Attorneys for the project's developer are sticking to their original plans. "We are at substantially the same scale as in the past," said Jonathan Kirsch, an attorney representing developer Sheldon Gordon, who was out of town and unavailable for comment.

The city of West Hollywood has been studying its legal options since July, when billboards announced plans for the $26-million hotel project. Both city officials and representatives of the developer have kept in touch, hoping to defuse the possibility of a lawsuit.

The two sides are scheduled to meet next week and Kirsch said that an architect for the developer was working on scale models and photograph montages that the developers hope will persuade neighbors and city officials to drop their opposition to the project.

"We think the hotel, as it's proposed, would be much more pleasing than a shorter, denser building," Kirsch said.

The project, which is scheduled to be completed by early 1987, has been described by one of its architects, Olivier Vidal, as a 311-room limestone- and glass-walled structure that would contain several bars, a flower shop, a patisserie and the French restaurant Ma Maison.

City officials and neighborhood representatives say they could accept a compromise plan for ahotel that is slightly taller and denser than their alternative. "I don't know how great a difference there might be between a building that is four stories and one that is five stories," said West Hollywood City Atty. Michael Jenkins. "We're not going to be close-minded to other suggestions."

But neighbors, concerned about the hotel's effects on parking, traffic, noise and shadows in the Beverly Center area, insist that they want the hotel project substantially scaled down. "What they want to build there is a tall, thin wall," said Martin Strudler, an officer of the West Hollywood West residents association. "We want to have some kind of step-down from the Beverly Center (which is nine stories high)."

Strudler said neighbors and the councilmen arrived at the alternative after contrasting the height and bulk of the Beverly Center and the neighboring residential area--which consists mostly of single homes and apartments--and determining that the Ma Maison project should be "somewhere in the middle."

"We asked the people in the neighborhood what their bottom line was," Schulte said. "Then I went back to our city staff and asked them to mull it over and give us some recommendations."

City Atty. Jenkins, who is analyzing the city's legal options, said the alternative "will probably come up when the dialogue resumes (between city officials and the developers). It doesn't represent any formal decision by the city at this point. It does represent a clarified feeling as to what we're shooting for."

Except for support from the residents living near the Ma Maison site, West Hollywood would have to go it alone if it opposed the hotel in court. The city of Los Angeles has not taken a stand against the project and City Councilman Zev Yaroslavsky, who represents the area in which the hotel would be located, has said the Ma Maison project is preferable to an office tower, which was originally proposed for that site.

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