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NoHo Commons Costs Rising, Report Says

November 05, 2003|Patrick McGreevy | Times Staff Writer

NoHo Commons, the cornerstone redevelopment project for North Hollywood, has been hit anew by cost overruns and delays, Los Angeles city officials said Tuesday, but the developer said he plans to begin demolishing buildings on the 16-acre site next month.

The city's original estimate for buying the land and relocating tenants was about $20 million. But a report released Tuesday by the city's Community Redevelopment Agency estimates the cost at more than $33 million.

"Property values have skyrocketed in the four years since the initial cost analysis was done on NoHo Commons," said Councilman Tom LaBonge, whose district includes the site of the proposed $218-million residential and commercial project.

LaBonge said that the greatest additional expense has been the cost of relocating small businesses, but he continues to support the plan as a "very important project that will help revitalize North Hollywood."

The Community Redevelopment Agency report also said the city has not yet received final federal approval of a $14-million loan for the project. It asks the agency board to postpone requiring developer J.H. Snyder to advance $5 million to the project until after the federal loan is finalized.

Agency administrator Robert Ovrom said no agreement has been reached yet with Snyder regarding sharing the cost overruns.

In December 2001, when the city approved $31 million in loans and subsidies to NoHo Commons, officials said construction would begin in January 2003. Two months ago, city officials said the project would break ground in September or early October.

On Tuesday, Ovrom said he expects work on the site to begin Dec. 1, although he acknowledged that many of the financial documents and other agreements for the project have not been finalized.

Snyder blamed the delays by the federal government on "red tape."

The plan includes building 700 units of housing and 271,000 square feet of office and retail space, much of it east of the North Hollywood Red Line subway station.

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