Thursday, January 22, 2009

Developer Plans 94 Unit Apartment+Retail Building in Heart of Sunset Junction

A retail/restaurant/multi-unit security rental building project was proposed for 4000 Sunset Blvd. during a January 14th 2009, Silver Lake Neighborhood Council (Urban Design & Preservation Advisory Committee) Meeting. Developers FROST CHADDOCK, (builders of "Luxury" residences) presented plans to build a four-story, 60 foot high, mixed-use building on the land spanning from the corner of Sunset Blvd. and Sanborn Ave., (former site of Lovecraft Biofuels) to Manzanita Ave. and Santa Monica Blvd. Every structure on this land, including one residence and the landmark Sunset Junction "Red Car" streetcar station would be torn down to accommodate this project which includes a 150 parking space subterranean parking facility for their tenants and patrons of the retail establishments therein.

Additionally, the developer went on to explain plans to limit access to the new building to a single exit/entrance on Manzanita Avenue. Traffic plans include asking the City’s Department of Transportation to install a new stop/turn light signal on Sunset Blvd. in front of the present location of the Jiffy Lube building. They have plans to buy additional properties in this area.

They also explained that their extended project plan extends beyond their building’s property boundaries to include the facing property (behind Jiffy Lube) to be developed: “When Jiffy Lube goes away”. The architectural design of the proposed structure is “Modernist-Neutrainspired, in sharp contrast to the surrounding buildings and neighborhood. (at this meeting, the representative of Frost-Chaddock would not allow photos to be taken of the artist renderings for this project).
Notes from the meeting:
Frost/Chaddock Developers: The site is in C2 (Commercial General) Zone. This is a proposal for a Mixed Use multi-family development - 94 rental units, a restaurant on the mezzanine level, retail and few rental units on street level, directly accessible from Santa Monica Blvd. The upper levels are occupied by apartments. Notably, the proposed units are small. As such that makes them affordable. Out of the total 94 proposed units, 9 will be set aside for Very Low Income applicants. The designated FAR (Floor Area Ratio) for Sunset Blvd. is 3:1. The proposal FAR 2.8:1 is under that threshold.
The units are small - 1 and 2 BR. They range between 500 and 950sq. feet each:
88 units 1 BR: 500 sq. ft. – 700 sq. ft.
6 units 2 BR: 700 sq. ft. – 950 sq. ft.
The proposed parking satisfies the code requirements (150 spaces). Because of the difference in the terrain elevations between Sanborn, Sunset and Santa Monica Blvd., the parking garage is placed partly and entirely underground, with access from Santa Monica Blvd. Public parking spaces are allocated on the west side of Santa Monica Blvd. before a possible merge of S.M. Blvd and Manzanita Ave. takes place in the future. The building wings encompass an internal landscaped private court yard, which supports natural ventilation and lighting. The architecture pays a reverence to the tradition of Neutra and Schindler architecture of the 20s and 30s, prevailing in the Silver Lake area.
There is no Zone Change or Variance required for the construction of the project. The developer and the Architecture Firm are presenting the project to the community prior to the application submission to the City, which will request SB1818 incentives – 35% height increase (45 feet + 35% = 60’-9” only at the very south-west corner along Santa Monica Blvd.)
The applicant has all necessary clearances with the LA Fire Dept. and LAPD, and they have completed a Soils Report.
a. Recommendations from the UD&PAC:
; i. Provide ways for water conservation systems to mitigate the increased demand on resources from the tenants, restaurants, and stores.
ii. Provide Roof Plan
iii. Assess methods for roof utility units screening
; iv. Look into traffic mitigation necessary for pedestrian safety, especially at the wide driveway on Santa Monica Blvd.
v. Provide proposed truck route for the construction phase
vi. Provide for electric cars plugs in the parking garage
Based on the magnitude of this proposal and the development site within the Historic Sunset Junction, a Community Meeting will be scheduled for presenting the project to the vast community. The meeting will be hosted and moderated by the SLNC. The developer will organize the Community Meeting and its outreach. The committee will assist the Developer with the outreach. The date for the Community Meeting will be chosen in a very near future and preferably will be set for Saturday – 11:00 AM to 1:00 PM at a nearby to the proposed site location. There was a thought that it might be a good idea if the Developer and the Architect make themselves available at the proposal’s site a half hour prior to the meeting for some questions by the community members.

It appears that no regard or consideration was given to respect the existing historical old world character of our neighborhood by planning to place this figurative "square peg" in a "round" neighborhood. It also appears that little regard has been given to the traffic impact that this project will bring to the neighborhood.
Further, this project appears to bring nothing in terms of any benefits or improvements
for the existing neighborhood or it's residents. Only the developer and perhaps the future renters of these units who wish to move into this neighborhood appear to have anything to gain from this project. The rest of us can look forward to:
  • Increased traffic in a very constrained area around Sunset Blvd., Gateway & Manzanita Ave. and Sunset Junction in general.
  • Added parking congestion to already extremely difficult nearby parking conditions
  • Loss of existing small businesses and residences
  • The loss of distinctive and landmark buildings that tie our neighborhood to it's distinct heritage and history.
  • The prospect of extreme noise & traffic problems during construction within this very constrained area and thoroughfare.
  • The City has advised us that due to the current resource crisis, we are all to conserve, and cut back use on water and energy. While most of us try to cut back and conserve on a daily basis, the addition of this structure will brings a new tremendous increase in usage to our area.
A community input meeting is scheduled for the beginning of February 2009. For questions and concerns, and information on upcoming community meetings please direct inquiries to:, Chair, Urban Design & Preservation Committee, developers for the 4000 Sunset Blvd. Project
send email & comments to and they will be forwarded to The Silver Lake Neighborhood Council, Eric Garcetti CD13 and appropriate parties concerned. Thank you.

This targeted area is the spot from which the name "Sunset Junction" was named. Developers intend to tear it down and replace it with a faux modernistic structure reflecting nothing of our local character. Like much of the beautiful history that has been razed on Hollywood Blvd., we are now faced with similar, further destruction next door to us. These existing properties could be used to benefit our community, it's residents, it's children and it's visitors by being put to better use as in creating a: Silver Lake Sunset Junction Community Heritage Museum & Visitors Center, that would present the area's rich history of Artistic, Political, & Gay culture of which we are so proud of. A community open space would also be a welcomed addition. This can be achieved without trading our soul to developers.
Old street car at historic Sunset Junction Red Car stop at corner of Sunset Blvd. & Santa Monica Blvd., just west of Sanborn Ave., circa 1940's.
Sunset Junction view looking southwest (towards present day Jiffy Lube location) circa early 50's.