WeHo News reported yesterday that Irv's Burgers, the iconic hamburger stand on Santa Monica Boulevard across the street from West Hollywood City Hall, is under threat of redevelopment changes that could possibly force out longtime owners Sonia, Momma, and Sean Hong.

Irv's Burgers owner Sonia Hong says her landlord is seeking to jack up her rent so high that she may be forced to leave the business. Irv's faced a similar situation in 2004, but community outrage essentially saved the hamburger stand.

Michael Bitton of the Standard Oil Investment Group, which is the landlord of Irv's Burgers, tells WeHo News that the Hongs are simply “panicking” as the two sides negotiate terms over the hamburger stand's future.

But Sonia Hong says the landlord wants to dramatically increase the rent from $4,500 a month to $10,000. Standard Oil Investment Group wouldn't confirm that number with WeHo News.

Standard Oil Investment Group has plans to redevelop the property that Irv's Burgers stands on, which would include an eating establishment called Cafe Beach.

Bitton says he wants the Hongs to stay and operate Irv's Burgers, but Sonia Hong says her landlord offered a $20,000 relocation fee to leave.

For years now, upscale redevelopment in West Hollywood has become a contentious point between community activists and West Hollywood City Council members. Incumbents John Duran and Jeff Prang are facing re-election contests this spring.

Prang, who supports the Hongs, tells WeHo News, “We can protect a building by putting it on the Cultural Resource register, but if the building is in too bad of a shape to save, the landlord can get around the restrictions to gut, or even demolish it.”

Irv's Burgers could very well become a symbolic campaign issue in the coming weeks.

Contact Patrick Range McDonald at pmcdonald@laweekly.com.

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