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Firm Draws Plans for Miracle Mile's First Major Hotel

September 14, 1986|DAVID FERRELL | Times Staff Writer

A Malaysian-held investment firm has filed plans to build a 22-story, 328-room hotel-and-office complex in the Miracle Mile district, a once-proud commercial strip in Los Angeles that is struggling for economic revival.

The project, to be built by Western Continental Investment Inc. in cooperation with a Texas-based construction company, would be the first major hotel in the mile-long stretch of Wilshire Boulevard, which runs between Fairfax and La Brea avenues, community residents said.

A hub of the city's booming retail and office development during the 1920s, 1930s and 1940s, the Miracle Mile has slumped as commercial growth has moved to newer areas such as Century City, city planner James Anderson said.

Los Angeles officials, business leaders and community residents are now engaged in long-range efforts to resurrect the strip, he said.

Mixed Use

Designs for the Western Continental project call for eight stories of office space topped by 14 stories of hotel rooms and luxury suites, according to Arthur K. Snyder, a former city councilman who is representing developers.

If city zoning approvals are granted, construction would begin by early 1988 on a vacant Wilshire Boulevard site between Hauser Boulevard and Ridgeley Drive, toward the east end of the Miracle Mile district, Snyder said.

But residents have opposed the project. Lyn MacEwen Cohen, president of the 4,000-member Miracle Mile Residential Assn., said homeowners doubt that the design and location of the project would be appropriate for the district.

Although residents support the revitalization of the area, they are concerned about the size of the project and its possible effect on traffic, particularly on heavily traveled neighborhood streets such as Hauser, Cohen said.

"We want to make sure . . . we don't have some monstrosity put in the wrong place at the wrong time," Cohen said. The Miracle Mile area near the site contains a mix of high- and low-rise commercial buildings, she said. Single-family homes and apartment buildings line the streets that intersect with Wilshire, she said.

Snyder stressed that plans filed for the project are tentative and that developers may be willing to scale down the project or make other design changes to reduce traffic. Current plans call for about 500 seats of banquet space, he said.

"The exact dimensions . . . (and) the precise design of the project will be determined" later, he said.

Better Site

But after reviewing project plans, filed about a month ago, residents concluded that a better site for a major hotel may be half a mile to the west, on available land near the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, Cohen said.

The county museum, which owns a two-acre site at the west end of the Miracle Mile, is weighing several options for the property, including possible development of a hotel or high-rise office complex, said Bob Ballenger, press aide to Supervisor Ed Edelman.

The museum has requested proposals from private developers to build a 21-story, 300,000-square-foot office complex that would include shops, restaurants and a 1,000-car underground garage, said Robert F. Maguire, chairman of the museum's facilities committee.

It is possible that a major hotel will be developed instead of the office building, Maguire said, but museum officials are wary that late-night or weekend events at a hotel would compete with museum events for parking. Possible plans for a hotel will be more fully examined before a final decision on the project is made later this year, he said.

"A hotel is possible, but we just don't know the feasibility at this point," Maguire said.

If a single major hotel is adequate to serve the Miracle Mile, residents prefer a project near the museum, homeowner's representative Cohen said. However, residents hope to meet with Western Continental representatives to discuss possible revisions in the hotel proposal, she said.

"It doesn't look like a good project," Cohen said. "Whether it can be a good project depends on (the developers') willingness to sit down and talk with us."

No Discussions

So far, homeowners and developers have not met to discuss the plan, largely because the builders are located so far away, Cohen said. Homeowners have refused to meet with Snyder because the paid representative is not authorized to negotiate changes in the project, she said.

"We want to sit down with someone who can make a decision," the homeowners spokesman said. "And if it takes three partners to make a decision, then they had all better well come."

Snyder, however, said it is unreasonable to expect the head of the development firm, who lives in Malaysia, to travel to Los Angeles to take part in negotiations that Snyder is being paid to handle.

"He's halfway around the world," Snyder said. "It is not within the bounds of reason."

Snyder said Western Continental officials in Los Angeles are coordinating development for the Malaysia-based landowner and a construction company based in Texas.

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