Culver City has withdrawn its objections to the proposed Howard Hughes Center in neighboring Los Angeles in exchange for pledges by developers to reduce traffic and make other improvements in Culver City.
City officials said late last week that they had reached an agreement with Howard Hughes Properties for the $500-million commercial complex that will include a 600-room hotel and eight high-rise office towers on a 60-acre vacant lot in Westchester, bounded by Sepulveda Boulevard, Centinela Avenue and the San Diego Freeway.
The project is being built by Tooley & Co., a Culver City firm. It was approved by the Los Angeles City Council in January although Culver City had objected to the increased traffic it would generate near Fox Hills Mall.
The agreement ends four years of discussions between Culver City and Howard Hughes Properties. It requires Hughes to build northbound on- and off-ramps to the San Diego Freeway and pay more than $2.8 million to the city for street improvements on Centinela Avenue east and west of Sepulveda and on Sepulveda between 74th Street and Centinela.
Hughes agreed to build the ramps before it completes 1.05 million square feet of the project. They will permit motorists to enter the San Diego Freeway directly from the project site, instead of driving through Culver City, according to Jody Hall-Esser, Culver City's Community Development director.
The rest of the road improvement money will be paid to Culver City in three installments as the project is built. Culver City will match half of each installment and use the funds for traffic improvements in the southern section of the city, Hall-Esser said.
The developers also agreed to install a new sewer main and flood control channel near the city's southern boundary at Centinela and west of Sepulveda.
Culver City also required Tooley & Co. to obtain written approval from the city for modifications of the project as it was approved by Los Angeles.
Hall-Esser said the agreement provides Culver City with a source of funds to deal with future traffic problems created by the Hughes project and others in the area.
"It gives us a possibility to address a myriad of traffic (management problems)," Hall-Esser said. "It give us flexibility."
She said that Culver City also wants to see how Hughes complies with a traffic-reduction program required by the city of Los Angeles. That program, known as Transportation Demand Management, requires Hughes to seek commercial tenants who will encourage employees to use car pools, public transit and other measures to reduce traffic.
The company's compliance with the program will determine whether it will be allowed to complete the last of four phases of the 2.7-million-square-foot project.