Final phase of Playa Vista approved


The Los Angeles Planning Commission voted Thursday to approve the final phase of the massive Playa Vista development between the Westchester bluffs and Marina del Rey.

In casting his “yes” vote, commission President William Roschen praised Playa Vista as a “smart, sustainable project.”

The 111-acre second phase -- which Roschen called the project’s “centerpiece” -- is intended to complete the vision of Playa Vista as a live-work-play community and will be built between the existing mixed-use residential community to the west, home to more than 6,000 residents, and the office campus to the east.

The Village will add 2,600 homes, a shopping center, office buildings and parks on property that for decades housed an airstrip and manufacturing facility used by Hughes Aircraft.

Playa Vista officials said the Village was designed “to be the heart of Playa Vista,” the link between Phase 1’s nearly complete residential, office and retail community and the commercial campus, which Tishman Speyer Properties and Lincoln Property Co. are developing into high-tech office space.

The commercial developers say their leasing efforts have been hampered by a lack of amenities that would appeal to employers. Aviator Howard Hughes’ Spruce Goose hangar and a large chunk of land approved for office and retail development are now for sale through a court-appointed receiver.

A development group led by Tishman Speyer built four office buildings at the site but had to give up its undeveloped land and 10 historic Hughes buildings on 56 acres after it defaulted on a loan last summer, according to Trigild Corp., the San Diego-based receiver. The property is encumbered by a $155-million loan on which Tishman and Walton Street Capital defaulted, Trigild officials said.

The city initially approved Phase 2 in 2004, but opponents sued, saying the environmental analysis for the Village was flawed. The state’s 2nd District Court of Appeal agreed that the city should revise three sections of the environmental impact report, and in May 2008 the Los Angeles County Superior Court ordered the city to vacate the approvals.

The city revised the report, and the approval process has begun anew, with the commission’s vote a first step toward gaining City Council’s support.

About 60 Playa Vista residents and boosters voiced support for the project at City Hall.

Rex Frankel, a longtime opponent who challenged the environmental impact report, said Playa Vista, by building Phase 2, was attempting to “empty out the vault that holds our quality of life.”