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Community Activists Spar Over Walgreens Project in West Hollywood

Update, Tuesday, May 8: West Hollywood City Council approved the Walgreens project on Monday night. Read reaction from those who opposed it after the jump.

For years, West Hollywood community activists were united in their fight to stop the construction of a proposed Walgreens at Santa Monica and Crescent Heights boulevards.

The mixed-use project had been stalled for years as a result, but plans have since been reconfigured and it may finally get approval from the West Hollywood City Council tonight. This time around, though, community activists are split in their opposition.

"It's a beautiful piece of architecture," says longtime activist Allegra Allison, "and it'll upgrade the neighborhood." Other folks aren't so sure.

"We all agree that something needs to be done on that corner," says Michelle Manire, spokeswoman for WeHo Neighbors, which continues the fight, "but the project is still too big."

Among a host of complaints such as building another chain drug store that's not needed in West Hollywood and even worse traffic flow at an already congested intersection, Manire also says the project "looms" over the neighborhood.

Allegra Allison, who lives two blocks away, counters, "It started off exactly the kind of building we had always been fighting. It was this huge gigantic block. But [Pacific Development Partners] actually listened to the neighbors. It's not a huge massive thing."

She adds, "Traffic is always going to be a nightmare there."

West Hollywood City Council members Jeff Prang, Abbe Land, John Heilman, John D'Amico, and John Duran will take a look at it tonight at the council's regular meeting. Manire wouldn't say what next steps may be taken if the politicians approve the project.

Update, Tuesday, May 8: The West Hollywood City Council approved the Walgreens mixed-use project last night. In response, WeHo Neighbors spokeswoman Michelle Manire writes to us in an email:

"Obviously, we are disappointed with the outcome, and the process. This whole project is a symptom of a 'system' in West Hollywood that is broken and outdated. That system feeds on apathy. Until enough of the people who are sick of the system take the time to stand up to it, and in a unified fashion, positive change won't come."

She adds that it's "really up to the community" to fight the project any further.

Contact Patrick Range McDonald at pmcdonald@laweekly.com.

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