CIM proposal for Farmers Insurance property submitted

| October 29, 2015 | 0 Comments
FOUR OF SIX new houses on Eighth St. are shown in a recent conceptual street scene from CIM Group's architects.

FOUR OF SIX new houses on Eighth St. are shown in a recent conceptual street scene from CIM Group’s architects.

With additional changes made to address concerns from Brookside residents, CIM Group submitted plans for the former Farmers Insurance property on Oct. 26 to the City Planning Dept.

The review process for the new residential development—which includes the former Farmers Insurance tower and surface parking lots—is expected to take up to a year.

The most significant changes in the recent submission include: not closing Mullen Ave., reducing the new single-family homes on Eighth St. from seven to six with different garage configurations, and having those six houses be on their own fee-simple lots. In addition, CIM Group is proposing to prepare a full Environmental Impact Report (EIR) for the project.

Public input

According to Gabriela Juarez, the city planner who oversees the Park Mile, an opportunity for public input will take place when CIM meets with the Park Mile Design Review Board (DRB) for a public hearing, which should be sometime next year.

“In its initial meetings with project proposers, the DRB often has additional questions and then schedules return visits by the proposer. Also, at the meetings, questions from the community often stimulate DRB requests for additional information,” says Juarez.

Changes announced

Prior to submitting plans, CIM Group held a meeting with Brookside, Hancock Park, and Windsor Square community leaders on Oct. 5. At the meeting, CIM Group’s vice president for development, Clyde Wood, explained the recent changes made in response to concerns from neighbors.

Regarding these changes, Brookside resident Jan Wieringa, who lives across Eighth St. from the current Farmers parking lots, wrote to her neighbors: “I think most of us in the room were very pleased with the changes that have been made due to the community input.”

As has been the case from the outset, CIM’s plan is to focus allowable Park Mile density (number of units) in the existing tower building, allowing the surface parking lots to be used for low-density buildings.

Mullen stays open

CIM previously proposed to close Mullen Ave., between Eighth St. and Wilshire, which the company believed would allow its two-block project to be treated as a single parcel, whereby density allowed by the Park Mile Specific Plan could be shifted into the existing tower. The city, however, has confirmed that such density shifting also can be accomplished by leaving Mullen open to traffic.

As a result, the condominium portion of the project will have 53 units in the tower and 11 townhouses, three triplexes, and eight single-family units on the former parking lots.

The matter of closing, or not closing, Mullen has been a source of controversy in Brookside. “I cannot understand why neighbors would oppose the closing of Mullen Ave. It would make our street safer, limit traffic and raise property values,” said Alexia Grimming, a resident on Mullen Ave.

“If the street is left open,” added Grimming, “my fear is that future traffic measures on Wilshire will increase cut-through drivers.”

Other neighbors, especially those living on Muirfield, worry that closing Mullen would instead increase the congestion already on their street.

“We all remain eager to review the developer’s traffic study, expanded in scope by CIM because of our requests, to learn what the traffic engineers believe would be the impacts of closing or not closing Mullen,” said committee member and Muirfield resident, Vivian Gueler.

CIM to prepare EIR

In CIM’s submittal to the city, the developer proposes to prepare a full Environmental Impact Report (EIR) for the project even though the proposals are designed to comply with the restrictions of the Park Mile Specific Plan.

“Recognizing the significance of this project to the Park Mile district and the intensity of community interest, our company decided that the most conservative approach would be to undertake a full EIR process, which provides the most opportunities for formal public input,” said Wood.

“Our consultants already were undertaking a level of environmental analysis typically required as part of an EIR, such as an expanded traffic study and thorough historic resources evaluation of the Farmers building. Even though it will be more time- consuming, we are asking the city to support our desire to go through a formal EIR process, an approach that we believe would also be welcomed by some neighbors.”

Houses on Eighth St.

CIM had originally proposed building seven new single-family houses along the north side of Eighth St., west of Muirfield, even though this property has multi-family zoning. One of those houses would have filled space on the proposed vacated Mullen Ave.

The new approach, with Mullen remaining open, has six single-family houses. Another difference is that each of the houses will be on its own legal lot and will not be a part of the condominium association, which includes the other 81 residences in the tower and on the surface parking lots.

An additional change is that the garages for two of the new Eighth St. houses have been moved to the rear of their lots, and the house at the corner was reconfigured to provide garage access from Muirfield Rd. That leaves only three houses with garage doors fronting Eighth St.

Also in response to neighbors’ input, CIM’s architects redesigned the new homes to reflect a greater variety of styles that are prevalent in Brookside and Hancock Park.

Historic status for tower

At the Oct. 5 meeting, Wood indicated that CIM continues to support the designation of the Farmers Insurance tower as a city of Los Angeles Historic Cultural Monument (HCM).

Wood said CIM consultants recently filed an application with the city to move this designation forward. Preserving the historic features of the building, according to Wood, is integral to CIM’s marketing plan for the new residences.

“The Farmers building is the centerpiece of the project. Its prominence in the community and irreplaceable character will allow us to offer a living experience that is available nowhere else in the city,” said Wood.

By Billy Taylor


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Category: Real Estate

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