When rumors surfaced that the CIM Group, which purchased the Farmers Insurance campus earlier this year, was considering building a high-end hotel along the stretch of Wilshire Boulevard between Muirfield and Keniston, residents of adjoining neighborhoods Hancock Park and Brookside voiced their concerns loud and clear: they don’t want a hotel in the area.
In fact, the Park Mile Specific Plan, written in 1987 to preserve the low density, single-family residential nature of the area, protects the area from large-scale development and retail not fitting to the park-like and residential character of the corridor which stretches from Highland to Wilton, reaching a block or two north and south of Wilshire. The Park Mile ordinance specifically prohibits the building of new hotels within the plan area, as well as schools, stores and health care facilities, among the many types of other businesses not allowed.
CIM principal Shaul Kuba met with a number of residents in the area, including a group from the Brookside neighborhood and GWNC President Owen Smith. Kuba appears to have heard the clamor and taken the idea off the table, even though no formal plans were ever presented.
Karen Diehl, spokeswoman for the CIM Group, said that CIM would not request a variance from the Park Mile ordinance. “CIM is currently evaluating plans for the Wilshire Campus that will be allowed under the Park Mile Specific Plan. The Wilshire campus presented a rare opportunity to acquire a significant property in the heart of Los Angeles. It is proximate to CIM’s numerous Los Angeles area investments that include office, retail and multifamily residential properties in Koreatown, Hollywood, West Hollywood, Midtown and Downtown Los Angeles.”
So what might the CIM Group have in mind for the four full blocks of pricey real estate? Several people who had a conversation with Mr. Kuba told the Buzz that CIM is considering building some 48 small lot subdivision homes on the parcel, which would be allowed under the Park Mile Plan, packing the blocks with residents, automobiles and housing where open parking lots and office buildings now stand.
Since Farmers Insurance is leasing space back for the next couple of years as they transition to their new headquarters in Woodland Hills, the CIM Group won’t be bulldozing anything anytime too soon. But knowing CIM as the major LA developer it is, there’s little doubt they have some big changes in mind for our little Park Mile.
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