A proposal by the builders of the Westside Pavilion to construct a second retail center nearby will be discussed at a public hearing Dec. 8.
The session is scheduled to begin at 9 a.m. before the Planning Commission's hearing examiner in the West Los Angeles Municipal Building, 1645 Corinth Ave.
The 160,000-square-foot structure would be located east of the 17-month-old pavilion, on the southwest corner of Pico and Westwood boulevards, according to Richard E. Green, president of Westfield Inc. It would be linked to the pavilion by a 120-foot-wide, two-level bridge 37 feet above Westwood Boulevard. The top level of the bridge would extend from the roof-top parking area of the pavilion, providing two-way traffic lanes and parking spaces. Retail shops are planned for the lower level of the bridge which would connect with the third level of the pavilion.
Green bought the site from developer Alan I. Casden, who proposed a 165,000-square-foot entertainment complex there last January. Neighbors complained that such a development would generate even more traffic than the pavilion. Green said he purchased the property and began his development plans with the blessings of Councilman Zev Yaroslavsky.
Yaroslavsky confirmed that he encouraged Green to buy the land, saying the area would benefit if the parcel was controlled by the owners of the Westside Pavilion. Yaroslavsky said he told Casden that he would never endorse the type of development that Casden had proposed.
Green has agreed to build only small shops and will not construct another major store, such as a Nordstrom's, major restaurants or businesses that would be open late at night.
Yaroslavsky said he approves of the bridge concept because it will improve traffic flow between the two shopping areas and keep it off the streets.
In anticipation of community objections to Green's project, Yaroslavsky formed a citizens task force to work with the builder. Sara Berman, who represents the 3,000-member Westside Homeowners Alliance on the task force, said there are only three issues remaining to be negotiated.
One involves use of the portion of the site north of Ayres Street. The area is zoned residential but for 40 years has been used for parking under a zoning variance. Green wants the zoning changed to commercial in order to increase the number of square feet for his building.
The other two issues are the size of the bridge connection and guarantees of sufficient parking for both the east and west buildings, Berman said.
Green said 80% to 90% of his plans have task-force approval. He said Westfield plans to provide 815 parking spaces on the new site. The company also promises to widen and re-stripe Westwood Boulevard. Some task force members, as well as Yaroslavsky, said more parking is needed to compensate for insufficient parking at the pavilion.
The city Planning Department's Environmental Review Committee has approved the project but the Friends of Westwood have appealed the approval and have asked for an environmental impact report on the project.
The Friends of Westwood, a community group, is not represented on the task force because its members do not live near the pavilion. But Laura Lake, president of the organization, said the group is opposed to a zoning variance requested by Green because it would give him air rights across Westwood Boulevard, re-zone the residential portion of the property to commercial and grant a height variation.
The Friends' appeal charges that the project violates the West Los Angeles Community Plan.
Yaroslavsky said all of the charges are false. "With the exception of the Friends, everybody has tried to work this thing through," he said.