The Century City stop planned for the Westside subway extension is turning out to be a vortex of political intrigue.
Not only is it the place where a friend of L.A. Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa plans to build a 37-story high-rise (and note here that Villaraigosa holds sway over the Metro transportation board), but it's also the reason why the Beverly Hills school district is up in arms -- and suing: The stop would require tunneling under Beverly Hills High School.
Metro voted to put the station there anyway, but now one powerful force might be standing in the way of the project above:
JPMorgan Chase, the bank that's not exactly America's favorite Wall Street institution at the moment as a result of a $2 billion gamble gone sideways (not long after its CEO James Dimon became an advocate for less banking regulation), is allegedly playing the bad guy here.
L.A.-area California Sen. Kevin de León is pissed at JPMorgan Chase for
failing to come through, it seems, with financial backing for lobbying against [see more below] for the Century City Center project being pushed by a firm called JMB.
De León writes:
Your immediate intervention is needed to reverse the destructive opposition by your Century City Asset Management Office to the proposed Century City Center, which would employ thousands of people in our community.
The senator says, in essence, you got us into the recessionary mess, and your money can help us get out:
It should not be difficult to see that additional employment in California is positive. I don't have to remind you about Wall Street's role in helping to create a global recession that continues to have significant lingering effects on our state's economy.
A press release hyping De León's move today as Dimon was scheduled to testify before the U.S. Senate Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs Committee said this was about construction jobs and tax revenues:
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The letter requests that Dimon intervene to stop JPMorgan Chase's Century City Asset Management Office from opposing the proposed Century City Center project, a $350 million investment in Los Angeles which will create 4,600 jobs during construction and 1,470 jobs at completion. The annual revenues of the Center are projected at $4.3 million to the City. The construction trades in the area are suffering from 40-60% unemployment rates and could desperately use these jobs.
Show us the money?
[Added at 3:31 p.m.]: A spokesman for De León told us that JPMorgan and its lobbyists are alleged to have met with city officials to oppose the development and to have attempted to form an opposition coalition of area property owners. Why? It's not clear to us yet.