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Homeowners appeal Westfield's plan to enlarge Century City shopping center

L.A. Planning Commission had approved the $800-million project to replace one of the Gateway office buildings with a 39-story multiuse tower. The appeal goes before the City Council in May.

March 25, 2009|Martha Groves

Westfield Group's ambitious proposal to enlarge its Century City shopping center and build a 39-story tower with 262 apartments or condos is facing a challenge from a coalition of homeowners.

The appeal of the Los Angeles Planning Commission's approval of the $800-million project was set to be heard Tuesday at a hearing of the Planning and Land Use Manage- ment Committee. But the city postponed the hearing to May 5. The matter is expected to go before the City Council on May 12.

The project "puts too much of a strain on our infrastructure," said Mike Eveloff, one of the challengers. Meanwhile, Eveloff said, funds paid by Westfield and other developers to help schools affected by their projects "end up going into the maw that is" the Los Angeles Unified School District, rather than easing the effects at specific schools.

Similarly, he said, funds that developers pay the city for aiding other city services, such as police and fire, also end up being used elsewhere.

"What people perceive in the community are huge strains on infrastructure and nothing coming back to compensate," Eveloff said. "It's just as unfair to the developers because it's creating this animosity."

Other challengers include the Westwood South of Santa Monica Boulevard Homeowners Assn. and the Beverlywood Homes Assn.

A Westfield spokeswoman declined Tuesday to comment on the challenge.

The Planning Commission unanimously approved Westfield's plan in November after the developer agreed to make a key modification.

Westfield lopped 10 stories off a proposed 49-story building that would feature stores, offices and 262 condominium units.

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

Westfield's plan also 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. In addition, the company intends to include a transit station for a future "Subway to the Sea."

Century City and its environs have experienced a major building boom in recent years. Century City, in particular, has been a hotbed of construction, with projects including 2000 Avenue of the Stars (which replaced the ABC Entertainment Center) and Westfield's $170-million first-phase redo of the outdoor shopping center, including a rooftop dining deck and enlarged movie theaters.

Also underway is Related Cos.' 39-story condo tower at the site of the former St. Regis Hotel on Avenue of the Stars. Down the street at the corner of Constellation Boulevard, JMB Realty Corp. of Chicago plans three condo towers.

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martha.groves@latimes.com

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