The proposed project at the site of the vacant lot known as “the Triangle” was a source of contention at last night’s meeting of the Neighborhood Council of Westchester/Playa's Planning and Land Use Committee.
The planned site, at 138 Culver Boulevard, would consist of a 72-unit residential, primarily apartment, complex with 16,000-square-feet of retail space, including two restaurants, a bike shop and a grocery store. The project would also have two levels of underground parking and is being developed by Legado Companies, a real estate development firm.
“The intent is to make the project a great success and to grow from there,” said Derek Jones, Legado’s chief operating officer.
Jones was on hand to present the plans to the council and to hear from residents. People spoke of their concerns regarding increased traffic in the neighborhood, and the impact such a project might have on their quality of life.
“I’m not opposed to the development,” said Elise Slifkin-McClure who lives in Playa del Rey. “I’m opposed to overdevelopment.”
She also mentioned her concerns about “the lack of an EIR,” or Environmental Impact Review.
Jones told the committee there needed to be clarification regarding the EIR.
“We’re not proposing that there be no EIR,” he said. “I think there is a misunderstanding here.”
He said “at the end of the day, it is the Planning Commission’s call.” However, he said a Mitigated Negative Declaration, or MND, has been done since “the project won’t have a severe environmental impact that can’t be mitigated.” A traffic study and a soil analysis have also been conducted, he said.
“There shouldn’t be the assumption that a MND is not equal to an EIR,” Jones said.
Michael Gemme, who said he represented many renters in the area, spoke out against the project.
“The traffic impact alone is enough,” Gemme said. “Now we’re going to put that many cars there? Ridiculous. We have to fight this as hard as we can. Please keep Playa del Rey the way it is.”
Other residents expressed concerns to Jones that Playa del Rey not become “another Manhattan Beach.”
Committee Member Cheryl Burnett and Playa del Rey resident said parking is a big concern for many neighbors.
“It’s a huge issue for the community if there is one car per unit,” she said.
There would be guest parking for residents and one hour of free parking for the retail space, but he did not recall the total number of parking spaces that will be available, Jones said. While he will not yet name specific retailers, Jones said he has received letters of intent from “very strong” retail tenants.
“There are some people here I'm not going to make happy,” Jones said of the development. "But I think we can be very flexible when it comes to enhancing its fit with Playa del Rey."
He said construction for the project should take approximately 16 months. The committee plans for Jones to make another presentation with story boards and more detailed design plans at a meeting in the near future. Committee member Pat Jones also asked Jones to send the committee the traffic study to make it more accessible for area residents to read.