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KOREATOWN : Council Tentatively OKs 25-Story Hotel

March 13, 1994|JAKE DOHERTY

The City Council last week gave a green light to the construction of a $115-million, 25-story hotel, office and commercial project, despite some members' objections that the massive development deserved more scrutiny.

Supporters of the Pacific Trade Center at Western Avenue and Olympic Boulevard say the 587,000-square-foot development will become a Koreatown landmark, generate more business in the area and provide 1,400 jobs and millions in revenues and fees for the city.

Critics argue that the project is too big for the neighborhood and will snarl traffic in an already congested area while siphoning off business and development from Wilshire Center, designated in city plans as the regional center for such high-rise projects.

The Pacific Trade Center will be a joint project of a Korean and American partnership, said consultant King Woods. Previously approved by the City Planning Commission and the council's Planning and Land Use Management Committee, it required the council's approval for zone and General Plan changes because of its size.

Councilman Mike Hernandez sought a two-week continuance of the matter to allow for more study, a sentiment echoed by several other council members.

But Councilman Nate Holden, whose district includes the project area, squelched the request for a continuance. He said it was unfair to the project's developers and supporters to delay it because there had been ample time for review as the project moved through the approval process.

"You either want to rebuild L.A. or you don't," said an irate Holden. "You either vote it up or down."

With that high-noon challenge, a vote was called. The result was 10-3 for approval, with Hernandez and Councilwomen Rita Walters and Laura Chick voting against it.

A second vote next week is necessary for final approval of the project, but requires only a simple majority--eight votes--to pass.

Supporters of the project included Mayor Richard Riordan, RLA, trade groups representing construction workers, the Koreatown Assn., the Country Club Park Neighborhood Assn. and the Miracle Mile Apartment and Commercial Owners Assn.

Critics included several hotels in Koreatown, the Koreatown Committee for Planned Growth and PLAN/LA, an alliance of homeowners' associations.

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