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AIDS nonprofit reaches deal over contested Hollywood office high-rise

The Los Angeles City Council voted last year to approve a 15-story office complex in Hollywood. Under a legal settlement, the developer will lower the height to 13 stories and reduce the project's square footage.
The Los Angeles City Council voted last year to approve a 15-story office complex in Hollywood. Under a legal settlement, the developer will lower the height to 13 stories and reduce the project’s square footage.
(Gensler)

The nonprofit group that pushed unsuccessfully this year for a crackdown on Los Angeles “mega-developments” has reached a settlement in its legal fight over a planned Hollywood office complex.

AIDS Healthcare Foundation agreed to drop its lawsuit after the developer, Hudson Pacific Properties, promised to scale back the size of its multistory project.

Under the settlement, Hudson Pacific will lower the project’s height, taking it to 13 stories from 15. The developer has abandoned plans for a supermarket on the project’s ground floor. And the office building has been redesigned to reduce the noise caused by delivery trucks.

Foundation President Michael Weinstein portrayed the agreement as “yet another legal victory” for his organization, saying the reworked project will have less of an impact on traffic on local streets, particularly Bronson Avenue, which leads into the Hollywood Hills.

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The project’s overall square footage will be reduced by about 10%. A supermarket, Weinstein added, would have generated a significant number of car trips for the neighborhood.

“It’s a smaller project,” he said. “It’s less congestion, less impact on the community.”

A Hudson Pacific executive issued a statement saying the office building is part of the company’s “long-term commitment” to Hollywood. The company owns or has developed other multistory projects in the area, including the Icon, a 14-story office building on the other side of Sunset.

“This agreement moves forward a world-class project that will bring more good jobs and businesses to the city, and supports Hollywood’s continued resurgence as the epicenter of media and entertainment, said Chris Barton, Hudson Pacific’s executive vice president for development and capital investment.

AIDS Healthcare Foundation, which delivers services to hundreds of thousands of people with HIV, has become a vocal critic of the city’s planning process, arguing that well-connected developers regularly receive permission to build projects that are out-of-scale and harmful to neighborhoods.

The nonprofit group poured more than $5 million into the campaign for Measure S, a March ballot proposal that would have halted the city’s practice of rewriting planning rules for individual real estate projects. Voters overwhelmingly rejected it.

The AIDS nonprofit is also suing over the Palladium Residences, a pair of residential towers planned in Hollywood next to its headquarters.

Hudson Pacific’s office building, now known as Epic, was approved by the City Council in August. Within weeks, both the AIDS Healthcare Foundation and the owners of a neighboring apartment courtyard filed lawsuits challenging the council’s decision, arguing the city had improperly changed planning and zoning rules for the developer.

Jason Vogel, one of the courtyard’s owners, also objected to plans by Hudson Pacific to put a driveway for deliveries right next to his property. That driveway would have been used by trucks to supply the planned supermarket, he said.

“I was opposed to 18-wheel trucks right up against my apartments, and the exhaust going to go up into my second floor apartments,” Vogel said. “I never had a problem with the supermarket.”

The redesigned project will require trucks to head into the building’s parking garage. And because there will be no supermarket, there will be few large trucks arriving at the site.

Under the new design, the area once designated for a driveway will now serve as a buffer between the office building and its neighbors, according to the AIDS Healthcare Foundation.

Vogel’s lawsuit over the project has not yet been resolved. He confirmed that he has entered settlement talks with Hudson Pacific.

david.zahniser@latimes.com

Twitter: @DavidZahniser


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