Sherman Oaks : Official Urges OK on Galleria Project

A controversial proposal to add 13 new movie screens and shrink retail space at the Sherman Oaks Galleria moved a step closer to final project approval with the release of a city planning official's recommendation on Wednesday.

Hearing examiner Larry Friedman recommended approval of the project, which calls for the addition of 3,000 movie seats at the mall for a total 4,000 seats and 18 movie screens.

Friedman also supported a request by the mall's owners--Prudential Insurance Co. of America and Dai-Ichi Life (USA) Inc.--for 10 restaurant liquor permits within the project. That number could be reduced on Friday or Monday, when a city zoning official is expected to release his written decision on that and other issues related to the project.

The city Planning Commission is set to review Friedman's report Dec. 14. The item is scheduled to be heard after 9:30 a.m. at the Sherman Oaks Woman's Club, 4808 Kester Ave.

"The renovation is important to revitalize that facility and the surrounding Sherman Oaks business district," Friedman said on Wednesday. He added that he has placed a number of conditions on the project, such as requiring the mall to begin work on the pedestrian plaza on Ventura and Sepulveda boulevards--considered a major amenity of the project--before opening its expanded theater complex.

The Sherman Oaks Homeowners Assn. and the Homeowners of Encino have opposed the project, saying that it will make the mall more entertainment-oriented.

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