Several neighbors have asked us about notices they’ve seen recently for an upcoming land use hearing for the parking garage at 206-226 N. Larchmont Blvd. But although the notice has raised some local eyebrows, it looks like the April 14 hearing will be just the latest, and a very long delayed, step in finalizing the City of Los Angeles’ purchase of the garage, a process that started with a 1986 agreement between the city and Ron Simms’ Larchmont Properties, LLP, owner of both the garage property and the retail storefronts on either side of it. (These include the Rite Aid store north of the garage entrance, and five smaller storefronts to the south.)
According to a December, 2019 city report, the city signed a 25-year lease for the garage property in 1986, with an option to purchase it for $1 after the lease expired. Under the agreement, the garage was built by Larchmont, LLP, at a cost of $2.75 million, which the city paid back over the next 15 years. Then, during the lease period, the city also paid 85% of the operating and maintenance costs for the garage, while Larchmont, LLP paid 15%…and the city – which operated the garage via an outside contractor – received the proceeds from the garage’s operations.
The lease expired as scheduled in 2011, but although that’s when the $1 sale was supposed to happen, it was never finalized.
According to the city report, this is because the original agreement was for the city to purchase only the underground portion of the garage, while Larchmont, LLP retained ownership of the surface level parking spaces and adjacent stores. And that required that something called a tract map be created before the sale, legally separating ownership of the subterranean garage levels from the surface parking level and its adjacent retail stores. (In other words, dividing the property into two separate “commercial condominiums” – upper and lower – that could be separately owned.) In addition, under the lease agreement, the two parties would also secure mutual easements for access to the two separate levels of the property.
But apparently the tract map and easement applications were not filed in 2011…so the city’s purchase of the lower garage was never completed.
In February, 2019, however, Larchmont, LLP did finally file the paperwork for the tract map to divede the property into separately ownable spaces. And approval of that division will finally pave the way to transfer ownership of the garage’s lower levels to the city.
All of which means the April 14 hearing, a required part of the tract map process, is just the latest step in moving the whole sale forward. (The mutual easement and continued joint operating agreement for the property, the other necessary step in finalzing the long-ago purchase agreement, was approved by the City Council in February, 2020.)
For anyone who is interested in the fine points of the commercial condominium application, separating the surface and subterranean levels of the garage so the city can purchase that part of the property, the public hearing is scheduled for Wednesday, April 14, at 12:30 p.m., via Zoom at https://planning-lacity-org.zoom.us/j/81767379659 (see below for additional telephone call-in information).