Investment firm Apollo Real Estate Advisors will play a greater role in its troubled Sunset Millennium development in West Hollywood after its partner and point man, Mark Siffin, drew the ire of community leaders and became embroiled in a series of costly and embarrassing setbacks.
Officials from Apollo have met with West Hollywood city officials in recent weeks in an effort to improve relations and build support for the $300-million mixed-use project.
In the past, Apollo had let Siffin, a developer, spearhead the project and act as the public face of Sunset Millennium, which is in various stages of development along three blocks of Sunset Boulevard at La Cienega Boulevard.
"Apollo expressed concern about the current morass," said City Manager Paul Arevalo, who recently met with top Apollo executives for the first time. "They felt there was a necessity to clear the air and reestablish themselves in the community."
The company did not say whether a management or ownership change involving Siffin had or was about to occur, according to Arevalo.
But the fact that Apollo officials have taken the lead in restoring relations in the community has raised questions about Siffin's future role.
"It seems what they are saying is that the Apollo people are going to take over primary responsibility for the project," said West Hollywood Mayor John Heilman, who supports a change.
Officials from Siffin's company, Maefield Development, and Apollo were not available for comment.
Heilman and other city leaders turned against Sunset Millennium in recent months after opponents of the project accused Siffin of buying the support of neighbors with hundreds of thousands of dollars.
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.
Last month, the West Hollywood City Council reversed itself and denied Siffin the permit needed to build giant billboards atop Sunset Millennium. The billboards would have earned the company an estimated $4.3 million in annual revenue.
"Mr. Siffin's credibility with the council and the community was undermined," Heilman said. "It's essential that the city have people it feels it can trust and work with."
Sunset Millennium includes 200,000 square feet of retail space, three office towers, including the former Playboy Building, and a hotel.
Maefield Development has been involved in developing more than 1.5 million square feet of retail space and nearly 4,000 homes and apartments in California and the Midwest.