Village Center Developers Want Hearings Delayed

Developers of the proposed Village Center Westwood--a controversial project that would incorporate movie theaters, shopping and a library--have requested that scheduled hearings before city agencies be postponed, officials said.

Developer Ira Smedra, whose 469,000-square-foot project received approval from the city Planning Commission in April, said Wednesday that his attorneys requested that hearings in June, July and August in front of the Board of Zoning Appeals and the City Council be put off for about two months.

Smedra said the request was made in order to have more time to finalize development, library and traffic mitigation agreements with various city departments.

He rejected suggestions by opponents of the project that the request for a delay may indicate that the project's investors are getting cold feet.

"This is a major project; it's not unusual at all" for such a delay to occur, he said. "My guess is we'll know within the next two to four weeks as to the final schedule" of hearings.

Jane Blumenfeld, a spokeswoman for Councilman Mike Feuer, who represents Westwood, said it was unclear Wednesday whether the hearings would be rescheduled.

Feuer attributed the requested delay to the recent death of Jack Ostrow, one of Smedra's chief advisors, Blumenfeld said.

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