When it comes to reviews and strong community involvement pertaining to environmental issues, California is one of the strictest states. However, developers may now face even greater challenges because of a decision from the LA Superior Court.
Attorneys for land use and developers state that even broader repercussions could come down in a decision from a judge with the Los Angeles Superior Court sometime soon that would stop the proposed development known as “Millennium Hollywood”. This project is for a large mixed use site covering more than four acres to include icon buildings such as Capitol Records.
As stated by Kenneth Fields, an attorney with Greenberg Glusker who focuses on real estate law, the ruling would have a significant impact on big scale new development.
According to Judge James Chalfant, an environmental impact report conducted by the city specific to a $1 billion development planned by Millennium Partners in New York did not pass for a variety of reasons. If the trial’s decisions stands firm, the approval process of developments of a similar nature in other large cities could also face difficulty in getting approval.
Millennium Partners along with the city are looking at additional options, one being an official appeal. Michael LoGrande, the planning director with the city said he supports an appeal since the judge’s opinion was based on several outright errors. However, the final decision for the project will not be made until the City Council and Los Angeles City Attorney have been consulted.
There is a chance that both Millennium Partners and the city come to some kind of agreement in an effort to deal with issues raised by Judge Chalfant. Mario Palumbo, Jr., one of the partners with Millennium confirms that the company is fully committed to the city of Los Angeles but also to the new project.
For quite some time, developers have been battling for the downtown area of Hollywood with interest in building projects that are larger and denser but each time, the projects are hit with opposition from activist groups. In fact, Robert P. Silverstein who represents the various groups within the neighborhood has been victorious in three courtroom battles not only against the city but several recent projects.
As expressed by Palumbo, people in support of mixed use projects feel the LA government has let them down. This project is by far one of the largest every planned in Hollywood and consists of two new towers and approximately one million square feet of space designated for hotel rooms, apartments, office space, and more.
In trying to get the project approved, the first application was filed in 2008 with the City Planning Department. As part of the project, Capitol records would remain in its current office space, something that was approved two years ago but lawsuits soon followed with claims that the environmental review process was not handled properly.
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People in support of Millennium Hollywood strongly believe that larger and denser products are not only more efficient but will help cut down on street traffic, especially since a Metro Rail station is only one block away. On the other side, activists feel the development would create more traffic on the 101 Freeway, as well as other roads, which is notorious for having backup.
Criticism has come from both sides but the greater concerns of many lawyers and developers are the way in which the judge described the project. This description is inaccurate, leading to a lot of frustration. If Millennium Hollywood never comes to fruition, the land will probably still be used at some time in the future but for what remains unclear.
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