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Equestrian Center Health Club Gains

December 26, 1985|GREG BRAXTON | Times Staff Writer

The Los Angeles Recreation and Park Commission has endorsed construction of a health club and a new access road for the financially troubled Los Angeles Equestrian Center in Griffith Park.

The commission unanimously approved the concept of the health club and road on the condition that center president J. Albert Garcia not build a 300-room hotel at the center, which is on land owned by Los Angeles. The commission agreed that the health club is "an appropriate recreational use for parkland."

Specific plans for the improvements must be submitted to the commission and City Council for approval.

Hotel Trade-Off

Garcia earlier this month reached an agreement with a commission subcommittee to withdraw the hotel proposal in a trade-off for the other improvements to the center, which is losing $100,000 a month and is $17 million in debt.

The hotel had been criticized by nearby Burbank residents, who said it would bring more traffic congestion to the area.

The proposal, approved by the commission Friday, calls for a new access road to the equestrian center from Forest Lawn Drive and the Ventura Freeway. The road will extend across the Los Angeles River and put the main entrance of the center in Los Angeles instead of Burbank.

Second Entrance

The existing entrance off Riverside Drive will be kept as a secondary entrance, Garcia said.

Commissioner J. Stanley Sanders said the new road will be a "mitigating factor" in the center's feud with homeowners because motorists will no longer have to drive through a residential neighborhood to reach the center.

Garcia said Friday that he will secure estimates and environmental impact reports for the fitness center, which he said will cost $10 million to $12 million. The center will not exceed the heights of existing buildings on center grounds, and will include 12 "on-site accommodation rooms" for horse show judges and workshop participants, he said.

Garcia said he hopes to have plans and estimates completed by mid-January.

'Moving Ahead Nicely'

"I'm very pleased," he said after the commission's 4-0 vote. "Of course, I'm not as pleased as I would have been if I had been allowed to go ahead with the hotel. But everything else is moving ahead nicely."

The health club will be financed by private investors, and the new access road will be paid for out of rent the city receives from the center. The cost of the road is not to exceed $1.15 million, city officials said.

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