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L.A. City Council Approves Hollywood's Massive Columbia Square Project

L.A. City Council President Eric Garcetti
L.A. City Council President Eric Garcetti
Gregory Bojorquez

Yesterday, the Los Angeles City Council unanimously approved entitlements for a massive high-density project in Hollywood, where a 28-story residential building, a 7-story hotel, and a 17-story office tower are planned for construction at Columbia Square on Sunset Boulevard.

City Council President Eric Garcetti, who represents the neighborhood where the project is located, said the redevelopment of the landmark site will usher in a "new Golden Age" for Hollywood, but some community activists aren't so sure.

"Approving the CBS Columbia Square project only serves to enrich the current owners of the property by granting massive land use entitlements while severely impacting the surrounding residents and businesses with gridlocked traffic, increased pollution, and literally overshadowing the delicate Selma La Baig Historic District area," Bob Blue, a longtime Hollywood activist, wrote in a letter to the City Council.

At Wednesday's City Council meeting, Ziggy Kruse, another Hollywood activist, also railed against the project.

But those voices were largely drowned out by representatives of the Hollywood Chamber of Commerce, the Central Hollywood Neighborhood Council, Hollywood Heritage, and City Council President Eric Garcetti, all of whom strongly supported the project.

Before the City Council vote, Garcetti noted that previous plans for Columbia Square, which was once the West Coast headquarters of CBS and is now owned by New York-based developer AREA Property Partners, were "too big," but praised recent changes.

Garcetti appeared to be referencing the fact that AREA wanted to build a 40-story skyscraper on the site as well as a 14-story building -- L.A. Weekly examined the controversial project in a 2008 feature story.

The developer has now trimmed the 40-story building down to 28 stories, but has added three stories to the 14-story building and a 7-story hotel.

Garcetti didn't mention those specifics.

The City Council president also didn't talk about three "venues" where there will be "live entertainment" and "dancing" as well as the serving of alcohol at nine "establishments" -- all of these places located on one city block and across the street from a residential neighborhood.

Curbed LA reports that AREA will come back to the City Council in the fall and ask for a 15-year entitlement extension.

Community activists, though, say that such an extension may indicate that AREA officials aren't serious about redeveloping Columbia Square and are seeking more time to find a buyer for the property.

Contact Patrick Range McDonald at pmcdonald@laweekly.com.