Melrose /Seward Office Building Project
Your Voices – Your Comments – Your Neighborhood
Dear Hancock Park Residents,
Please read the letter below regarding the proposed development at Melrose and Seward. If you would like to comment or add your name for the record, to the list of residents who are in agreement with the comments in the letter, you can forward this email along with your name and address to:
City Planner David Woon: [email protected]
Council Member Paul Koretz: [email protected]
CD5 Planning Director: [email protected]
Chief of Staff Joan Pelico: [email protected]
Letter for the record:
RE: Melrose/Seward Creative Office Project (CPC-2021-2908-ZC-HD-ZAD-WDI-SPR, ENV-2021-2909-MND)
April 12, 2022
Dear Mr. Woon,
We’re writing to express our opposition to Bardas Investment Group’s proposed construction of a 5-story building at the corner of Seward and Melrose. We have several points we’d like to address, but before doing so, we’d like to highlight two images.
The first is from the Bardas Investment Group website. As you can see below, the image states that the groundbreaking for this project will take place second quarter of 2022. The description isn’t “estimated groundbreaking.” Nor are the images described as a “potential design for the property.” To look at the Bardas site, you and the agency have already approved the project.
As stakeholders in our neighborhood, we’d like to thank you in advance for your careful consideration of this decision. We don’t take you or the work you do for granted. We would never presume that a decision has already been made. Your work is important and we know you take it seriously.
A second image we’d like to highlight comes from Bardas’s initial application to the city. On the final page, Bardas has the opportunity to provide signatures from neighboring property owners. There were many times on your zoom meeting with Bardas last week when the Bardas representatives referenced their thoughtful outreach to the community to solicit feedback on the project. If a picture is worth 1000 words, we feel like the below form says it all.
Turning to our specific reasons for opposition, we’d like to express a handful of arguments for why the requested entitlements should be denied:
- The application requests the Zoning Administrator to “waive transitional height requirements, in order to allow the development of the Project.” We would highlight the word transitional. The reason these particular lots are limited to their current height is because of their location. They are transitional. They provide a buffer between the more work related buildings to the north and the residential neighborhood to the south. To waive the height requirement in order to build a 5-story building runs completely contrary to the purpose of the code. These height limitations exists for a reason – to create a sense that there is a flow and plan in our city – and approving Bardas’s entitlements would run contrary to these zoning codes’ intent.
- The application states that “The Project’s height would be compatible with other existing and future developments within the vicinity of the project.” The application then cites the following locations as “similar in size and uses to the Project”:
- “The currently-in-construction three-story office building located at 743 Seward Street”
- “The two-story Digital Post Services production building located at 712-720 Seward Street.”
- “The two-story Irwin Entertainment production building located at 706-708 Seward Street.”
- “Three-story multi-family residential development adjoining the southeast corner of Melrose Avenue and Seward Street”
- Bardas seems to be suggesting that these 2 and 3 story buildings make the construction of a 5 story building next to a residential area okay. None of these other buildings are 5 stories. We’re not sure how Bardas is defining the word “compatible” – but in our view these cited buildings would suggest that their 5 story structure is incompatible
- The application states “The Project has carefully incorporated design features aimed at ensuring compatibility with such residential uses, the John C. Fremont Branch Library, and the Hancock Park Historic Preservation Overlay Zone, which is located to the south of the Site across Melrose Avenue.” The sentence seems to suggest that the design of the new building takes into account the look and feel of the surrounding area. For the sake of clarity.
Beyond the common design elements of doors, windows, and roofs, we cannot see any “compatibility” between the new building and the surrounding structures. (Again to underline: On your Zoom with Bardas and stakeholders last week, Bardas made continual reference to the outreach they made to the community to gather their feedback. So far as we can tell, that outreach amounted to a Zoom about the project with Hancock Park residents the night before Bardas’s call with you.)
- The application states the “Articulation and structural variance would enliven the streetscape, help minimize the perceived scale of the building’s façades, and help soften the height and massing of the building.” The reason it is necessary to minimize the perceived scale of the building is because it is 5 stories tall. It is our opinion that the best way to minimize a building’s perceived scale is to not make it 5 stories and to conform to the existing height limitations.
- The application states that “That the project will enhance the built environment in the surrounding neighborhood or will perform a function or provide a service that is essential or beneficial to the community, city, or region.” Any potential benefit, function, or service the building may provide is in no way related to the building’s height. Unless Bardas has data and or research showing that redevelopment is only successful when the building is five stories tall, these “benefits” can be attained while still conforming to the existing height limitations.
- The applications states “The Project would help ensure the continued growth of industries based in the City and would help the City and Hollywood Community create and retain job employment opportunities.” We are in strong support of job creation and retention. However, jobs can be created and retained through a building that conforms to existing height limitations.
(Sidenote: Many of us submitting this letter work in the high-end part of the entertainment industry. In other words, we are the target tenants Bardas would pursue as renters, and we can say with authority that there is not a height preference in the entertainment industry. No one is looking for space to rent saying “First things first – only show me buildings that are five stories or higher.” In fact, most people who work in the industry look for discrete and anonymous office space. A five-story mini-Beverly Center towering over nearby buildings is neither discrete nor anonymous.)
In closing, the question of approval comes down to the difference between want and need.
Bardas wants to build a five-story building because Bardas wants to make more money. Increased height means more floors to rent. However, Bardas doesn’t need to build a five-story building.
Bardas may say they need to make the building five stories in order to make it profitable, and therefore they need the height requirement raised. We would say, Bardas should have thought of that before buying the land. Rules exist for a reason. Bardas cannot breed elephants on the property. Bardas cannot drill for oil on the property, despite the LA Zoo and oil pumps being just miles away. The zoning doesn’t allow for either such activities. It also doesn’t allow for five story buildings on this property, and we ask that that that rule be respected.
Bardas wants to build a five-story building.
And we – the people who have signed this letter – need your office to be the thoughtful protectors of the rules and ordinances of this city we all love.
Many thanks in advance for your time and consideration.
Mr. Geoff Shaevitz & Sarah Moses, 640 North June Street
Jack and Susan Blumenthal, 618 North June Street
Bridget and Clark Wells, 628 North June Street
Billy & Sheryl Rosenberg, 634 N June Street
Michael & Kelley, Avery 613 North June Street
Peter Gorelick, 600 North June Street
Tom & Kerri Specker, 608 North June Street
Kelly Shin, 646 N June St.
Adam Sires 617, North June St
Ilene Bell & Paul Koegel, 626 N Cherokee Ave
Jen & Marc Feinstein-DeVore, 607 North June Street
Note: List as of April 12, 2022, more residents continue to send in letters and in comments on this project since that date.
3 thoughts on “Hancock Park Homeowners Association Needs Your Voice”
I know the area well and this building is not in tone nor supporting for this neighborhood. The reason this area is desireable is because it has a cohesive feel and reflection of its original intent.
The project will be a great addition to the entertainment corridor along Seward.
This project keeps LA competitive. We need to keep the entertainment industry in LA to to provide jobs for young people.