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SHERMAN OAKS : Parking Lot to Stay Closed for Holidays

October 14, 1994|KAY HWANGBO

A public parking lot that community leaders say is crucial for local businesses during the holiday season will remain closed until mid-January, a consultant for a developer said.

Howard Katz, housing consultant for Sherman Oaks Community Housing Corp., developer of a senior housing project over the parking lot at Dickens Street and Cedros Avenue, said the project is behind schedule because of delays in getting city funding for the project.

The developer had initially committed to completing the parking-garage portion of the project by Sept. 30. But Wednesday, Katz said that hasn't occurred, and predicted the garage--the only public lot in Sherman Oaks--will be completed by mid-January.

Katz said it will then be up to the city to decide whether the public will be allowed to park in the structure.

The project is funded largely by a grant from the federal Department of Housing and Urban Development. Initially, the developer had been required to close escrow on the loan by Sept. 30 or risk losing about $900,000 in supplemental funds needed to complete the project. According to the consultant, the department has agreed to give the developer a four-month extension of the escrow closure deadline.

Jeff Brain, co-chairman of the Sherman Oaks Town Council, accused the corporation of breaking its promise to finish the parking structure by Nov. 23. When the lot closed in July, the nearby La Reina Fashion Plaza agreed to allow the public to use its lot, but only until that date.

"Frankly, I don't think they ever thought they could do it," he said. "We were just snowed."

Brain contended the developer has done little to find replacement parking that would be available after Nov. 23.

Katz denied he had ever promised that the parking lot would be finished by Nov. 23. He said he has contacted three property owners to inquire about the possibility of their providing alternative parking, but that nothing definite has come out of those talks.

Community leaders said they are concerned that the delay will jeopardize the ability of nearby businesses to provide parking for their patrons during the critical holiday season.

"That does present a problem because there is a problem with inadequate parking," said Barry Wegman, executive vice president of the Sherman Oaks Chamber of Commerce.

"I know they made plans to put parking in the La Reina center and I would hope that Mr. Katz and his group would talk to the owner of the La Reina center so that parking can continue to be available during the holiday season," he said.

"We were afraid this would happen," said Richard Close, president of the Sherman Oaks Homeowners Assn. "It's going to hurt the local businesses and the people who live in this area."

Close said he is counting on Los Angeles City Councilman Zev Yaroslavsky to fulfill what Close said was a commitment to find parking for the holiday season.

The Community Housing Corp. is an affiliate organization of the Jewish Federation Council.

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