City News

L.A. City Councilwoman Jan Perry Supports Tax Exemption For Billion-Dollar Developer To Erect Massive Supergraphic Towers On Wilshire

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Thu, Nov 4, 2010 at 12:30 PM

click to enlarge Proposal for a new-and-improved Wilshire Grand Hotel
  • Proposal for a new-and-improved Wilshire Grand Hotel
While Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa dismantles libraries across the city, City Councilwoman Jan Perry of the downtown district thinks there's still enough money to give a few billionaires a tax exemption on their massive hotel project on Wilshire Boulevard and South Figueroa Street, according to LA Curbed.

The complex would consist of a 65-story tower wrapped in bright digital signage -- an adorable addition to the Financial District.

How are parent company Hanjin International and developer Thomas Properties Group able to get around the city's 2002 ban on the creation of more billboards and 2009 ban on supergraphics in particular? Why, by applying for a handy-dandy "sign district" of course, like the one at L.A. Live and in Hollywood.

Everyone from Hanjin, the Wilshire Grand Hotel and Thomas Properties Group is predictably unavailable -- one's even on vacation for a week -- so we can't ask if there's any way they would go through with the hotel upgrade without the tax break and ridiculous signage. (Ayahlushim Hammond, senior vice president of Thomas Properties Group, did tell LA Downtown News in August that without an exemption from the city's 14 percent annual "bed tax," developers would halt the project and sell the land.)

However, taking into account their $1 billion budget and the intense planning that has already gone into the development, we predict they'd just grumble and go through with it anyway.

The Downtown News also reported that the city agreed to a similar waiver for a South Park hotel project developed by the Anschutz Entertainment Group. The 25-year exemption saved the company almost $250 million.

Makes you wonder: How many libraries could that save?

Like the developers, Perry is at leave-a-message status today. However, her communications director told LA Curbed that the councilwoman is "conceptually" in favor of granting the tax and sign exemptions to the Wilshire Grand Hotel project.

And when one City Councilmember wants a sign district -- or anything, for that matter -- the rest always seem to fall into place.

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