Los Angeles City Councilman Richard Alatorre has denied a developer's request for an exemption from a moratorium on mini-malls on Colorado Boulevard in Highland Park.
At a meeting Friday with developer George Boiadjian, Alatorre decided against the request to build an L-shaped shopping arcade with parking in front, but agreed to let the builder proceed with an alternate design.
Under the agreement worked out between Boiadjian's architect and the councilman's staff, Boiadjian can build a U-shaped mall with one row of stores facing the street and parking on the side. Boiadjian said he will consult with his architect to determine the cost of such a project.
Alatorre's decision overrode the determination of the Citizens Advisory Committee for Colorado Boulevard, which voted 7 to 4 last month to support Boiadjian's request. The committee, formed in January by Alatorre to help devise a specific plan for the boulevard, had been asked by the councilman to make a recommendation on the request.
Homeowner group leaders who have fought further development along the boulevard, which is lined with older buildings increasingly interspersed with modern shopping centers and garish signs, hailed Alatorre's decision.
"I am overjoyed," Kathleen Aberman, Eagle Rock Assn. president, said. "We thought Mr. Boiadjian could build something else, but he didn't make the effort in good faith to do that. We are pleased. We are very, very pleased."
But Boiadjian, who speaks limited English, said he was befuddled by the decision. "OK, what I'm gonna do, you know?" asked the Armenian immigrant shoemaker-turned-developer. "Who's going to rent if they have no windows facing the street? I'm losing more square footage, but that's the way I have to do it."
Boiadjian's request for a hardship exemption was the first since the moratorium went into effect in June, 1987. Residents feared that his project would set a precedent for the kind of development they feel is ruining Colorado Boulevard.
Under the moratorium, Alatorre has the authority to grant or deny plans for mini-malls.
Boiadjian sought a hardship exemption after he was ordered by the city to demolish the 1922 masonry building he owns at 2061 Colorado Blvd. or bring it up to earthquake standards. He said that meeting earthquake standards, at a cost estimated by his architect at $150,000, is not feasible.