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Century City mall expansion gets OK

November 14, 2008|Martha Groves | Groves is a Times staff writer.

The Los Angeles Planning Commission has unanimously approved Westfield Group's plan to expand its Century City shopping center after the developer agreed to make a key modification.

The 6-0 vote came Thursday after Westfield revealed that it had settled with two of four parties that had appealed the project over concerns about the building's height, traffic and security.

Most significantly, Westfield agreed to lop 10 stories off a proposed 49-story building that would feature stores, offices and 262 condominium units.

That agreement soothed a concern of the Comstock Hills Homeowners Assn., which represents a small neighborhood just north of the project. The group contended that the tower as proposed was out of scale with other buildings on Santa Monica Boulevard and would dominate the skyline.

The newly reconfigured 39-story tower, which would replace one of two original Welton Becket-designed "Gateway" office buildings, would still contain 262 residences.

Reflecting the community's keen interest in the $800-million project, the commissioners imposed conditions that a longtime land-use attorney called "very much unprecedented."

The panel recommended that Westfield return for a hearing before it proceeded with the first phase of construction so that planning officials and the public could hear the latest details about plans for managing traffic and the project's design and signage.

Westfield's plan calls for relocating Bloomingdale's to the base of the new condo tower, adding retail shops and razing another office building that would be replaced with a parking structure. It also intends to include a transit station for a future "Subway to the Sea."

"They didn't just rubber-stamp the staff recommendation," Rob Glushon, an attorney for the Comstock Hills group, said of the Planning Commission.

During a four-hour discussion, Glushon said, commissioners wanted to know how the company's plan to get people out of their cars would work. They wanted "to hold the applicant's feet to the fire," Glushon said.

Residents of Club View Drive received an unspecified cash settlement intended to deal with the problem of cut-through traffic. Comstock Hills also received an unspecified amount of cash that the association plans to use to add stop signs, a traffic circle and security cameras, said Jan Reichmann, the group's president.

Mike Eveloff, president of Tract 7260, said his and another homeowners group were continuing to negotiate with Westfield over issues related to strains on police, fire, water, electrical and other services.

The proposal now moves on to the City Council's planning and land use management committee.

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martha.groves@latimes.com

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