Culver City : City Sued Over Club Site

The owner of a defunct Culver City sports club has sued the city, alleging that it has taken his property without just compensation and denied his civil rights by rejecting his plans to build townhouses on the site.

The suit, filed in Los Angeles Superior Court earlier this month, charges that the City Council's April denial of the 30-townhouse project was unreasonable, given that the sports club had barely broken even in its nearly 15 years of operation. The council at that time also determined that the city could not afford to buy the club for a municipal recreation center.

The suit asks for $10 million in damages, which is what the owner estimates is the worth of the townhouse project, Gaines said.

A city-ordered study by a recreation consulting firm found that the Westside Sports Club, 4901 Overland Blvd., would not be able to compete in today's market without renovations costing as much as $540,000.

The City Council on July 3 decided to reconsider its April decision at hearing on August 14.

The now-vacant club site is designated specifically for use as a sports club.

"By refusing to change the designation of the property, (the city has), for all intents and purposes, taken the property without compensating the owner," Richard K. Ehrlich, said attorney Fred Gaines.

Besides the city, also named as defendants are the City Council and four members who voted against the townhouse project: Steven Gourley, Jozelle Smith, James Boulgarides and Paul Jacobs.

Gourley said he wanted to see the owner build some sports facilities nearby as a replacement. "If they're going to sell 30 condos, (the tenants) are going to be demanding recreation facilities. . . . It would be good for the community and good for the project--it would be a selling point for their project as well."

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