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Apollo Will Manage Sunset Project

Firm is working to mend relationships with West Hollywood officials after replacing development's controversial partner.

April 02, 2002|JESUS SANCHEZ | TIMES STAFF WRITER

Investment firm Apollo Real Estate Advisors has replaced Mark Siffin as managing partner of the $300-million Sunset Millennium project in West Hollywood, according to city officials.

The action was taken after Siffin, who had spearheaded the project's development, angered community leaders and became involved in a series of costly and embarrassing setbacks.

In recent weeks, Apollo officials have been meeting with West Hollywood city leaders to mend relations and build support for the mixed-use project, which is in various stages of development along three blocks of Sunset Boulevard at La Cienega Boulevard.

Apollo executive Richard Ackerman announced last week that his firm "would be managing the future development of the project," said West Hollywood City Manager Paul Arevalo.

Neither Ackerman nor officials representing Siffin could be reached for comment.

Siffin lost credibility among West Hollywood leaders after opponents of the project accused the developer of buying the support of neighbors with hundreds of thousands of dollars.

Siffin acknowledged financial agreements with some neighbors, but disputed that they were intended to buy off the project's opponents. In January, he characterized them as "mutual support and benefits agreements" that are similar to payments made to cities for the impacts caused by developments.

City officials also were angered when Siffin reportedly moved to replace a planned 350-room hotel in the development with housing without consulting the city. Earlier this year, the West Hollywood City Council reversed itself and denied Siffin the permit needed to build giant--and lucrative--billboards atop Sunset Millennium.

In announcing Siffin's replacement as managing partner, Apollo officials said they were committed to build the hotel as originally planned. Sunset Millennium also includes 200,000 square feet of retail space and three office towers, one of which is the former Playboy Building.

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