With the lease about to run out on their temporary City Hall, West Hollywood officials have turned their attention to a Sunset Boulevard entertainment complex as a possible new home.
City officials and a commercial real estate firm representing the city were negotiating this week with brokers for country singer Kenny Rogers, who owns a seven-story entertainment complex in the 8700 block of Sunset Boulevard.
The city government has been using an office in the county-owned Plummer Park since it started operations last November. The county gave the city a three-month lease and later, a month's extension.
That extension expires next Thursday, although city officials are confident they could remain an extra week or two if they lease new quarters soon.
Thus far, the city has not requested another extension. John Stodder, an aide to Supervisor Ed Edelman, said the county probably would grant one as long as it were limited to a few weeks.
"The problem is that the park office they're using for a city hall was built with federal and state funds," Stodder said. "There's a provision that if the grant funds are (used) for non-recreational uses for too long a time, the park could revert to the state. I don't think the city or county wants that."
The park is scheduled to be transferred from county to city ownership within the next month, Stodder said.
If a deal on the Rogers complex is worked out, according to Dori Stegman, a city administrative assistant who has been involved in the negotiations, the city could move its operations to the building's third floor, which contains more than 11,000 square feet of office space. The building would also provide a private area of 2,500 square feet on the first floor for the council.
The city has been searching for a location that has at least 10,000 square feet to accommodate council and staff offices and facilities for the city's rent control administration and planning agency.
Some council members have been reluctant to move the city hall to Sunset Boulevard because it is not central to the community and may not be accessible to the city's senior citizens.
At least one councilman, Alan Viterbi, said he was also worried about the image that the Rogers building projects.
"I'm not too enthusiastic about it," he said. "It may be a little too elegant for West Hollywood. It's got fancy tile outside, cushy appointments inside. I'd still prefer a place that's more central. The problem is we're running out of options."
City officials began negotiating for the Rogers site last week.
By Wednesday, according to Stegman, brokers for Rodgers and Los Angeles Realty Services, which is representing the city, had made proposals. "We're still trying to bring down the price," she said.
Another point of contention may be the length of the lease. The city hopes to build a permanent city hall in three to five years, according to Viterbi, and is reluctant to commit to a long-term arrangement.
Although the council would prefer to move Santa Monica Boulevard, no sites have been found there. Most of West Hollywood's available commercial real estate is on Sunset Boulevard, where a number of hotels and office complexes have been built in recent years or are under construction.
The Rogers complex, previously owned by Crocker Bank, houses several production companies and offices for entertainers such as Dolly Parton. The building was recently renovated and the facade remodeled in tile, brass and simulated marble.
Besides its ample space, Stegman said, the complex meets several conditions considered crucial in a temporary city hall, including adequate security, easy access for visitors and the handicapped and sufficient parking. It is near a shuttle bus stop that serves the city's elderly.
The other site still under consideration is a vacant two-story building in the 600 block of North La Peer Drive, where 7,800 square feet would be available. Because of the building's space limitations (more than 2,000 feet less than the council needs) and its lack of accessibility, council members initially vetoed a move there in early February.
A third site once under consideration, the Piazza del Sol office building, next door to the Sunset Hyatt in the 8400 block of Sunset, has been ruled out because it will not open until August and discourages public visitors. "There's not much point in having a city hall if the public doesn't have any access," Viterbi said.