A redevelopment project near the Culver City-Los Angeles border that could have severe impacts on Westchester is headed to Culver City Council for possible approval.
The Entrada Tower project, at 6161 Centinela Ave. in Culver City next to the Radisson Hotel, is a 340,000-square-foot complex that the applicant, real estate development firm Centinela Development Partners, contends will bring in substantial revenue to both Los Angeles and Culver City, in addition to creating new jobs.
The project was approved by the Culver City Planning Commission last month by a 4-1 margin. Commissioner Andrew Weissman, who is running for a seat on the City Council in April, was the lone dissenter.
“I thought the project was too tall and too wide,” said Weissman. “While it appears to be a beneficial project for Culver City economically, to me, the scale, with relation to the surrounding buildings, was way off.”
Although the high-rise complex faces some opposition from Culver City residents, Westchester Bluff homeowners have been the most outspoken regarding the project’s height and their fears of greater traffic congestion at an already heavily traveled intersection, Centinela Avenue and Sepulveda Boulevard.
The developer worked with various governmental entities to conduct a “very thorough” traffic study of the area, said Lisa Gritzner, a spokeswoman for Centinela Development Partners.
“Thirty-three intersections were analyzed, including the intersection at Centinela and Jefferson,” Gritzner said. “Mitigation measures have been provided for all of them except one.”
Westchester residents have addressed the matter at the Westchester/Playa del Rey Neighborhood Council, and have enlisted the office of Councilman Bill Rosendahl, their representative on the Los Angeles City Council.
“This project is out of character by its size and scope,” said the councilman.
Noting that Culver City will hold elections with three council seats changing hands in April, Rosendahl said that he is anticipating that the present council will wait until the newly elected body is seated before voting on the Entrada development.
“I’m hoping that they will postpone the final decision until the new council has an opportunity to take a fresh look at the impacts of this project,” Rosendahl said. “It’s moving too fast and too quickly, and I hope that they would show respect and consideration for my constit-uents.”
Mike Arias, the president of the Westchester/Playa del Rey Neighborhood Council, says that there has been “critical opposition in Westchester” to the proposed development.
“The Westchester Neighborhood Council has taken a position that we are strongly opposed to the height and the variance of the building,” said Arias.
Diane Landis, who lives on Riggs Place in Westchester across the street from the proposed development, is adamantly against the project.
“This building will create awful, awful traffic problems,” she said. She is dismayed that the Culver City Planning Commission seemed to dismiss her concerns and those of her neighbors after they attended the commission meeting, which lasted into the early morning hours.
“There were 175 letters in opposition to the project that were submitted,” she said. “Culver City seemed to be saying to us that our feelings are insignificant.”
“The biggest problem is the height of the project and the variance that it received,” added Diane Licciardi, a real estate broker who lives on Bluff Drive.
The true height of the complex is one of the most argued points of contention between the developer and those who object to the project. Centinela Development Partners contends that the building’s elevation will rise to approximately 100 feet. But Westchester and Culver City residents who are against the development argue that the building, which will be built on top of a seven-story parking structure, will be over 220 feet tall.
During the 1990s, Culver City imposed a 56-foot height limit on all buildings. The proposed project is in one of three designated community redevelopment areas in the city where variances can be granted for developers who seek to build larger, denser and taller complexes.
“In these specific redevelopment areas, the Planning Commission is allowed to grant variances for development projects,” Gritzner noted.
The density of the project is what alarms Gina Koshak the most. Koshak, a Westchester homeowner who is a landscape architect, believes that a building of this size can have lasting ramifications on development on the border between Culver City and Los Angeles.
“I’m really concerned about the density of this project and that it could be precedent-setting,” she said.
Licciardi agrees. “It’s massive,” she said. “We all drive the same streets and breathe the same air. Why should [Culver City] get a height variance?”
While she realizes that, because it lies in a community redevelopment area, the applicant can apply for a variance, Licciardi insists that it was unnecessary to request it.
“Just because you can do something, that doesn’t mean that they should do it,” said the real estate broker.
Arias finds it ironic that when Phase I of Playa Vista was being built, a number of Culver City residents complained that many of their streets and neighborhoods would be severely impacted by cut-through traffic and added congestion and pollution from more automobiles going to the residential complex.
“It is ironic that now we’re the ones whose concerns are not being considered,” he said.
Landis mentioned another concern with the project and its proposed structure — privacy.
“At over 220 feet, the building will overlook our homes,” she pointed out. “It’s massive.
“We’re not opposed to development. We’re opposed to massive development.”
Koshak suggested that some of the developer’s planning documents were less than accurate.
“The artwork that the developer presented to the community was not very honest,” she alleged.
Landis feels the same way about the environmental impact report. “It was very deceptive,” she alleged.
Weissman realizes that the proposed development will have an impact on traffic, especially at Sepulveda and Jefferson, but he feels that this is a regional problem that requires a long-term multi-agency strategy.
“Even if the mitigation measures that the developer says they have in place are fully implemented, the impact on traffic in the area will not be any worse, because it can’t get any worse,” he acknowledged. “I think that what we are seeing now at Sepulveda and Centinela is less about what’s happening in Culver City and more of what is happening in Los Angeles regarding traffic and development.”
Koshak also believes that reducing traffic will be accomplished only with cooperation from several agencies and municipalities.
“I think that Los Angeles has long suffered from a lack of regional planning,” she said.
Centinela Development Partners says that it would like everyone to see how the proposed development can be a good project for all parties.
“We are working with the community to help them understand the benefits of the project,” said Gritzner, who is also an executive vice president of public relations with Cerrell and Associates. “We understand the concerns that residents may have with the project, and we have worked very hard with Culver City to revise the schematics to lessen any potential impacts that there might be.”
Gritzner touched on the economic benefits that both municipalities could reap if the project is approved. The developer estimates that over a million dollars in revenue will be generated if the project is built.
“This added revenue will also attract businesses that add to the gateway of Culver City and to Los Angeles,” Gritzner said.
Landis and her neighbors are hopeful that Rosendahl can intervene on their behalf with Culver City’s elected officials and perhaps have the project scaled back.
“We’re losing our neighborhood, and with the traffic that this project will bring, we’re going to be landlocked,” Landis lamented.
The Culver City Council is slated to consider the Entrada Tower project in mid-April.