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Controversial Hollywood skyscraper project heads to vote today

July 24, 2013|By Kate Linthicum
  • Attorney Robert Silverstein represents opponents of a proposed pair of office and residential towers that would be constructed next to the Capitol Records building in Hollywood. Critics say project proponents and Mayor Eric Garcetti are ignoring an earthquake fault that crosses the site.
Attorney Robert Silverstein represents opponents of a proposed pair of… (Bethany Mollenkof / Los…)

The Los Angeles City Council is poised for a major vote Wednesday on a controversial Hollywood skyscraper project near the famed Capitol Records building.

If the project is approved, New York-based Millennium Partners would be able to build more than 1 million square feet of apartment, office, hotel and retail space on about 4.5 acres of vacant parking lots.

But some critics of the project are questioning whether the towers could be at risk in an earthquake. State officials are studying whether a known fault line near the building is still active.

Until recently, criticism had focused on its massive size — initial architectural renderings showed two soaring towers, one 55 stories and one 45 stories, before the project was downsized — as well as its potential impact on traffic. Earlier this year, the California Department of Transportation added its concerns, saying the city hadn't factored in how the project would affect travel on the nearby 101 Freeway.

But in recent weeks, an attorney representing community groups that oppose the proposal has launched a campaign warning that the project site is dangerously close to what is known as the Hollywood fault.

Earlier this week, attorney Robert P. Silverstein accused Millennium Partners of using phony data to hide the building site's proximity to the fault in geological reports it filed with the city. Philip Arons, a co-founder of Millennium Partners, said Monday that those allegations are false. In a statement, Arons accused Silverstein of "bluster."

The state weighed in on the matter Saturday when the chief of the California Geological Survey sent a letter to Council President Herb Wesson, notifying him that the Millennium site "may fall within an earthquake fault zone."

Eric Garcetti, who represented Hollywood on the council for 12 years before becoming mayor earlier this month, also said he opposed the original height of the towers. Since the developer downsized the buildings last month, he has remained mum on whether he supports the current iteration of the project.

On Monday, Garcetti spokesman Yusef Robb noted that the developer had met Garcetti's demands for shorter towers and said the mayor "will continue to monitor public, city department and other input." Robb did not comment on the concerns over earthquake safety or the allegations that engineers in the Department of Building and Safety failed to properly evaluate the project's risk.

A "yes" vote on Wednesday would give the developer permission to build on the site, although the developer would still need to secure building permits with the city before beginning construction.

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Twitter: @katelinthicum

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