Mixed-use project divides Larchmont Village neighbors

| June 1, 2017 | 0 Comments

A FIVE-STORY building to include 52 units is proposed at Beachwood and Melrose.

Several neighbors expressed dissatisfaction during a May 9 Larchmont Village Neighborhood Association (LVNA) semi-annual meeting in regards to both a new mixed-use development working its way through the planning process, and the support the neighborhood association gave to the project.

The frustrated residents allege the development was “rubber-stamped” by the LVNA board without the neighborhood association ever notifying, much less discussing the project with, its members.

The project is a five-story building planned for the corner of Beachwood Dr. and Melrose Ave., to include 52 apartments and 5,500 square feet of ground-floor retail space (on Melrose).

“This development got really far down the pipeline before most of the neighbors knew about it,” said Larchmont Village resident Tracey Clarke. Directing her attention to LVNA president Charles D’Atri, Clarke added: “You say you speak for us, but you’re not giving us a voice because you don’t bring us into the loop.”

The LVNA submitted a letter to the Dept. of City Planning on March 15 “to support the proposal of the applicant.”

Clarke says she was angered to witness the developer’s spokesperson testify before the City Planning Commission that they had “met with the neighbors” to plan the project.

“The developer didn’t meet with neighbors. They met with six [board members] in someone’s living room. Not one single resident living near this project site was at that meeting, nor were they invited.”    

RESIDENT Tracey Clarke says her neighborhood association is “rubber-stamping” major developments without consulting residents.

Unhappy with the lack of representation from the LVNA, Clarke says some residents are taking the matter into their own hands: “We’re getting a group together to take the next step with the city to try and get concessions from this developer.”

Among the complaints about the project — which include parking availability and noise from a pool and rooftop deck — it is the building’s height of 56 feet (five stories) that is most upsetting to neighbors.

“To the point that everyone worked so hard to make a conglomerate like Paramount stay at a 45 foot height level on that street [Melrose], why did this project get to go 11 feet higher?” asked a woman from the crowd. “It will set a precedent for future projects.”

LVNA board member Vince Cox defended the board’s support of the project by explaining that the additional 11 foot increase in height is a legal “off-menu bonus” given to the project in exchange for offering below-market rate units (pursuant to a statewide density bonus law, SB 1818).

“The problem is that the zoning allows them to do everything that they’re doing. They bought the property with the zoning, and that gives them legal rights,” said Cox.

In addition, LVNA president Charles D’Atri explained that the board actually urged the project to move more of the development to the Melrose side to help mitigate impacts for the residential area that is further south on Beachwood.

“One of the reasons for the height on Melrose is that it is the commercial stretch of the property,” D’Atri said.

Still frustrated, a man in the crowd shouted: “We understand it’s legal what the developer is doing, but we need to know about it. The LVNA has a website, and a list-serve. We should be notified. Communication is not good.”


The Chronicle contacted the LVNA leadership days after the explosive semi-annual meeting to find out if the show of opposition changed anything.

“The LVNA position … is to support the project. The vote was not unanimous.

“We haven’t taken any further formal positions,” said LVNA secretary Karen Gilman.

In response, Clarke says she is “horribly disappointed” by the LVNA’s lack of response to its members’ concerns.

“We have hired an attorney and will file an appeal, we’re just waiting for the determination letter from the Planning Commission,” says Clarke. “We plan to start a GoFundMe page to raise funds for the legal defense.”

By Billy Taylor

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Category: News

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