This story was updated Wednesday correcting the name Clyde Wood.
On July 8 at an open meeting of neighbors in conjunction with the Greater Wilshire Neighborhood Council’s monthly board meeting, CIM Group presented a smaller, less dense development to be built on two of the four Farmers Insurance parcels they acquired at 4622-4680 Wilshire Boulevard – 2 blocks on south side of Wilshire Blvd between Rimpau Blvd and Muirfield Rd. The design was also presented to the Park Mile Design Review board last week, and CIM Group officials said they have reduced the density of the project in response to concerns expressed by neighbors. The proposed project now has 87 total units, down from 119 when it was first presented in January.
The current plan calls for 52 condominium units in the historic office tower, starting on the 4th floor. The first three floors will be office space. On the parking lot adjacent to the tower there will be eleven town home units, oriented around an interior courtyard with a pool, above the underground automated parking garage along the 8th street side of the property. Across Mullen, on the surface parking lot, 24 homes are planned. Beginning with the highest density along Wilshire and stepping back to the single family homes of Brookside, the project calls for 9 triplex units along Wilshire, with 15 single family homes behind those, each with two car garages (7 homes facing 8th street, 8 homes fronting an internal garden walk street). The 8th Street homes will be what CIM calls “estate” homes, two stories high on 50 foot wide lots of approximately 3600 square feet.
“I am excited about CIM’s changes to their original proposal,” said Owen Smith, President of the Brookside Homeowners Association. “They seem to be listening to the community. We have less density now than before.”
Though reduced in size, the project is still too dense for some Brookside residents who would like to see further examination, through an Environmental Impact Report (EIR), of the potential effects of adding 87 new homes to the 2 block area.
“No matter what they do, it’s going to change Brookside forever,” said Jan Wieringa, a 25-year resident. “I am just doing whatever I can to encourage CIM to respect the quality of life we have in Brookside.”
Wieringa points to the design of the homes that will face her own home on 8th street as an example of CIM’s failure to sensitively design the development. The new houses will be set on lots of similar width to existing homes (about 50 feet), but the setbacks from the street are only proposed to be 15 feet, in comparison to 37 feet for most of the existing homes in the area.
The most controversial aspect of the project is CIM’s plan to close Mullen Avenue. Closing the street will allow CIM to treat the two parcels as one, giving it greater flexibility to shift the density on the site and put more housing units in the historic tower, according to Clyde Wood, CIM Vice President, Development. CIM is currently preparing a traffic study to address residents’ concerns about how the closure would affect the remaining streets.
“If you live on Muirfield, you don’t want Mullen closed,” explained Wieringa, “if you live on Mullen, you want it closed.”
This has become a very divisive issue in the neighborhood, according to Wieringa. She circulated a survey to 200 residents over the weekend to see if there is consensus on the fate of the street.
“There are some items that need clarifying, but things seem to be going in the right direction,” said Owen Smith. “We are particularly interested in their traffic study. When they get, it we will have a much better understanding. But the main thing is that at this point we don’t have concrete proposals. We have concepts based on community input and we look forward to their final plan.”
CIM Group spokesman Karen Diehl provided the following statement:
CIM Group has been working with the community for several months seeking input on its proposed redevelopment of 4622-4680 Wilshire Boulevard, part of the former Farmers Insurance campus. CIM is committed to a plan that is compliant with the Park Mile Specific Plan, the planning document that has guided development in the Park Mile district for the last 35 years. CIM introduced its initial concept plan in January, and after hearing comments from the community, modified the plans for the project. The Brookside and Hancock Park Home Owner Associations invited CIM to present the revised plans at a July 8th community forum held at the Ebell Theater. Plan revisions include a 46% reduction in the number of new homes proposed to be built on adjacent surface parking lots and elimination of one of two access points along Muirfield. The July 8th forum was part of CIM’s ongoing community outreach program. There will be many more opportunities for the community to review and comment on the proposal as the plans move through the City’s public review process.
“We are listening to the community as this proposal works its way through discussions in neighborhood councils and homeowners associations,” said Sarah Dusseault, chief of staff for newly elected Councilman David Ryu.