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Prudential Scales Down Proposal for Offices

June 26, 1986|JEFF BURBANK | Times Staff Writer

Prudential Insurance Co. is scaling down five proposed office towers in Culver City in response to complaints from neighbors about traffic congestion, parking and other environmental problems.

Prudential will change its proposal to include a mixture of office, residential and retail uses on the 18-acre site near Venice.

The company decided on a mixed-use project because of the glut of office space in West Los Angeles, according to project director Marianne Lowenthal.

"We've redefined what our best market is," Lowenthal said, "and we feel that there were problems with the past development that were evident in the environmental impact report," including the project's height and its potential effect on peak-hour traffic.

The new plan involves a "considerable" reduction in the height of the buildings, Lowenthal said.

Schedule Unaffected

The revised plan, however, will not affect the company's schedule for the project, she said. Under the original plans, the project was to be completed in about five years.

Prudential had wanted to build one 12-story, two 17-story and two 15-story office towers, two restaurants and a 5,200-space underground parking garage on the site bounded by Washington Boulevard, Zanja Street and Glencoe and Walnut avenues. The buildings were expected to house about 5,000 employees.

Residents, mainly from the Venice area, complained that the project would be too tall and would bring traffic and parking problems to their neighborhood. They raised objections during Planning Commission and City Council hearings on its environmental impact report.

The three environmental impact reports prepared for the project since January, 1985, included responses to more than 75 letters and comments from residents, neighborhood associations and local government officials.

13,000 Daily Trips

The final report stated that the project would add 13,000 daily car trips to the area and suggested that Prudential hire a full-time coordinator to encourage car pooling and public transit use. The report also recommended that the city widen Glencoe Avenue to four lanes and place left- and right-turn lanes at the intersection of Washington and Lincoln boulevards.

It also suggested that Culver City and the city of Los Angeles establish a parking permit program for nearby residents, with Prudential paying the administrative costs and permit fees.

Prudential first showed its plans to the City Council in 1984. The council approved them in concept but said the company would have to reduce the size of the project. The project hit another snag in January, 1985, when the Planning Commission said its environmental impact report failed to adequately address traffic density, air pollution and other effects.

The council unanimously certified the report on Monday, but the company's new plans may require more environmental study, said city planner Jay Cunningham.

The commission and council must also approve a zoning change, an amendment to the city's general plan and a subdivision map before the project may be built, Cunningham said.

Prudential owns the land, which is zoned for light manufacturing and commercial use. The two buildings on the site include a computer parts factory and a flea market.

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