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WOODLAND HILLS : Construction Under Way on Shopping Plaza

August 14, 1993|KURT PITZER

After several years of much-debated planning and revisions, the first stage of construction is under way for an expanded shopping center at the corner of Ventura and Topanga Canyon boulevards.

Construction of a Ralphs supermarket on the busy corner, approved by the Los Angeles City Council a month ago, should be finished early next year, said Harris Toibb, president of Ventura-Topanga Partners, L.P., which owns the 9.8-acre site.

But Stan Weiss, the owner of the adjacent property that includes a Vons grocery store, plans to try to stop the construction through a court order, said the owner's attorney, Ben Reznik. The City Council refused to block the project, which Reznik said would create driving hazards in the parking lot.

"If the court finds that we're right, they're going to have to stop construction. . .," Reznik said. "We're still in the ballgame. We're trying to make it so that it's not going to create a danger, and it's going to create a proper (traffic) flow."

Although two lawsuits by Weiss are pending on the issue, Toibb said he is "not concerned about those frivolous matters."

In order to build the supermarket, crews are demolishing buildings that had been leased as a liquor store, a record shop and a church.

A video store, restaurants, a bank and expansions of drug, book and pet stores are expected to be completed by the end of 1994, Toibb said.

The planned shopping center is a compromise between the developer and local residents. Ventura-Topanga Partners originally gained approval from the city to build 10- and 13-story office buildings on the site. But the project, known as Gateway Plaza because of its location at the north end of Warner Center, was blocked by a lawsuit by the Woodland Hills Homeowners Organization.

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