By Besha Rodell
By Patrick Range McDonald
By Michael Goldstein
By Dennis Romero
By Sarah Fenske
By Matthew Mullins
By Patrick Range McDonald
By LA Weekly
Meanwhile, with some analysts saying the condos envisioned at The Grand would take seven years to sell, the authority has granted the Related Companies repeated extensions of its construction deadlines.
"It's a fantasy project that will never be built," says Paul Novak, Land Use and Planning Deputy to Supervisor Mike Antonovich, the lone county supervisor to vote against forming the Grand Avenue Authority five years ago.
Novak says it's time for The Grand's cheerleaders to face reality. "That piece of public property has been tied up for three-and-a-half years. ... Mike [Antonovich] says it's time to cut and run," he says. "Related [Companies] has already had four extensions and has had its performance fine waived," he adds. He's referring to the fact that Perry and the Grand Avenue Authority have, for now, waived the Related Companies' $250,000 monthly late fee, which the developer promised to pay if it failed to start construction.
The project, Novak tells the Weekly, needs to be completely rethought. "It would only duplicate what's already going on at L.A. Live" near Staples Center, he says. "The big draw for Phase 1 was supposed to be a five-star hotel. Well, there's a brand-new five-star hotel at L.A. Live. There's only capacity for one."
Novak wants to see the five-member authority dump Related and start afresh to determine the best use of the land, which is owned by city and county taxpayers, rather than peeling off pieces of land for surprise projects pushed by insiders like Broad.
But Novak doubted such top-down rethinking will unfold because "the [authority] has turned into a cheerleader for the project" even though, he notes, "that's not their job."
Of all the well-dressed people in Room 374-A last week at the Monday morning meeting, the best-dressed was William Witte, Related Companies' California president, who sat in the front and received a steady stream of well-wishers and information-seekers like a rich, popular uncle.
Witte says the public will see tangible progress in June, when ground is broken for the $56 million, 16-acre Civic Park. The park, to be wedged between City Hall and the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion, has been used as a selling point for the adjacent for-profit Grand Avenue project. Witte also says there will be no change to Civic Park's controversial design. Heavy on cement and lacking much shade or grass where people might relax or play Frisbee, the design by Rios Clementi Hale Studios landed with a thud when it was unveiled last year.
To critics who say Grand Avenue will — and should — never happen, Witte responded: "We could always just give up on Grand Avenue, but we haven't done that. And we won't."
Contact the writer at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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