The Abbot Kinney Hotel (Venice Place)
First Hearing – September 8

The developers, after a couple of years, finally submitted their environmental report to City Planning. Most everyone expected Planning to sign right off on it and push this project on, and they did exactly that. Now it proceeds to the public hearing process.

We think its non-sensical new name ‘apartment hotel’ (that’s an 80/4 ratio of hotel rooms to apartments) may assist this commercial project to elude the Venice Specific Plan’s restriction against tying more than 3 commercial lots together. At this point, only the community can force a more thoughtful project out of the developers.

ImagineVenice wrote a few previous articles on this near city-block-long project comprised of an 80 room hotel, 4 apartments and a multitude of restaurants and other hotel services. When the writers first met with the developer years ago, we expressed support for a hotel in principle, and put forth a simple notion, one which more than likely would engender community support for the project — Build Less and Charge More. The developer demurred and said he was going to build to the ‘hotel model.’ One can only assume that this ‘model’ is one which the likes of Starwood, Hilton, or Marriott would find attractive as an acquisition property, ensuring a very big future payday.

Our concern is that this hotel being built over 8 lots is designed in such a way that it would negatively affect the nearby residential Oakwood community forever. We think this current scheme comprising more than 50,000 feet, creates ongoing risks to the children of Westminster School. Additionally, we believe that paramount and essential to any good hotel project would be a serious intention to control the truck traffic and car flow it generates. These are important and worrisome issues and they are being glossed over with PR and by various promo ‘meet and greets.’ We doubt there are many pesky neighbors at these ‘outreach’ events to ask the hard questions. There is an intensive PR effort to ‘put lipstick on a pig.’

We know it is hard to believe, but this huge development does not have an off-street loading and unloading area. Why? Because the city code says that developments without an alley don’t have to have loading areas. But wouldn’t you think that a developer projecting real concern and love for the Venice community would allocate the necessary land to take all the delivery trucks and trash trucks off the street? Instead, the project will load entirely from three curbside parking spaces on Broadway. These 3 spaces are expected to handle all truck pick-ups and deliveries. We are expected to believe that like magic, trucks will arrive in synchrony and fit perfectly into these three curbside parking spaces.

IM_Edition27Street_sm

It would have been the right thing if the developer wanted, and was willing to give up, revenue earning land for this essential need. Clearly no moral imperative propelled them to do it for the benefit of the community. Imagine, in 2016 a huge project is going up without an off-street loading area.

It doesn’t matter how many inch-thick surveys and elegant reports with pages and pages of charts are generated by paid-for hotel consultants. They all say this project will have no on-going negative impact on the Venice community. The results of bad planning is all around us now. How much more of it should the community have to endure?

We believe that all the fancy promised amenities of this project will do nothing to offset the forever damage it will cause Venice. The developer claims they are filling a need for hotel rooms for visitors — but who will protect the residents from more traffic congestion and over-building in the community? Our old infrastructure just can’t take much more of it.

So, what we have here is a giant project, the largest in-fill development ever built in Venice, which has the same truck loading standards as do our old historic buildings on Abbot Kinney. Venice is forced to accept, adapt and live with the conditions grandfathered long-ago. Must we now shut our eyes to the endless number of double-parked huge delivery trucks and those that fill the center lane of Abbot Kinney knowing that it will most certainly increase. We are an old town. We live daily with a parking mess created in the 1930’s and 40’s. Why must we accept a 20th Century solution in 2016? It does not have to be this way.

When a new 80 room hotel, its 4 apartments and all the restaurants, retail, offices and spa are in full operation, traffic will surely get worse for Oakwood and for most of Venice. Trucks and cars are already directing themselves inland to avoid the growing congestion on Abbot Kinney and Lincoln. The alternate route mobile App Wayz aggravates people now by directing traffic into residential neighborhoods. But who can blame people for using it? It is just one of the tools people will find even more necessary as they try to move around this town.

As we said originally to the developers and which we repeat again here — Build Less and Charge More. There is still time to reduce the size of this huge project, provide essential off-street truck loading and un-loading and develop a traffic mitigation system to keep hotel-generated traffic out of the Oakwood community and protect the safety of school children.

The community has an opportunity to weigh in and voice their concerns about this very important and powerful development.

The time is now.

The Abbot Kinney Hotel (Now Venice Place Project)
Where Are We Now?

A hotel in Venice on Abbot Kinney. This could have been a true landmark development. It could have been neighborhood friendly and a real enhancement to the community now and in the future.

Soon, we can expect that the new permutation of the old program will be up for review and consideration at the Venice Neighborhood Council and the LUPC. And, shortly thereafter, the Zoning Administrator will be holding a hearing on the project. Residents will have an opportunity to voice their views and listen to other views before the ZA, both for or against this project.

Perception by many is that the new design with its separated buildings does nothing to reduce or eliminate its former built-in problems. Primarily, the negative effects on the Oakwood community and increased traffic and truck congestion will be neighborhood changing. Many worry about the likely deleterious effects in the safety arena as all of its trucks will be loading and unloading at the curb on Broadway creating new risks for the school children who use Broadway as their main route to Westminster School.

There is nothing wrong with the idea of a hotel on Abbot Kinney. The problem with this project is that it will exacerbate the already congested area with its idling trucks waiting to load and unload at the Broadway curb. Have you ever seen a trash truck pick up at a curb? Can you imagine the huge Budweiser truck easily making a delivery at the curb?

The developer chose not to allocate land to take all these trucks off the street and direct their exit back to Abbot Kinney and thereby keeping them from using the Oakwood community’s residential streets as an alternate exit route. The use of streets to load and unload was done in 1940. We know better now. When you have lots of land and can easily dedicate some of it to solve this problem, you should use it. Yes, this land won’t be revenue-generating land but what it would generate would be a huge amount of appreciation and goodwill from the community.

It is very important to understand that the traffic assessment made for this project does not reflect actual realities on the ground. The Department of Transportation (DOT) uses ‘tables’ and ‘schedules’ and outdated historical data. It concentrates all of its deliberations on ‘signalizing’ and pays little attention to intersections which are not ‘signalized.’ It made no actual real-time study of the traffic action at all the intersections and residential streets near this huge project nor did it review the impact on already heavily used 4th which is the most direct route to the Santa Monica Freeway. While this is the way DOT ‘assesses’ traffic, to believe it is reflective of the realities in Venice is foolish.

An opportunity for greatness has been lost.

The Abbot Kinney Hotel Project (now called Venice Place)

What’s New is Old

The developers invited a select group of guests to see their ‘big reveal.’

Now, it’s gussied up with a very ‘current’ look. It ties 8 lots together with a new sleight-of-hand technique which divides up the project and ties the now separate buildings together with catwalks, while they claim there is no restricted lot tie. It is still a huge project. They are good to go now in their view. After one year they will finally submit a complete application to the city for approval and for review by the community.

Still, the entire city block-long project will load and unload all trucks on Broadway at the same 3 curbside spaces.

Still, the hotel’s entry and exit utilizes Electric Avenue entirely. None of the traffic is directed away from the residential streets of Oakwood. The brunt of the entire hotel circulation continues to fall on one of Venice’s oldest communities.

Still, school children risk the traffic on very narrow Broadway and Westminster as they make their way to and from elementary school.

Still, another opportunity lost by the developers to build a hotel viewed by residents as good for Venice. Instead, they continue not to listen to residents. The new hotel plan makes absolutely no changes which would eliminate or mitigate the major issues which will impact Oakwood.

The latest plan will increase opposition to the project as people lose hope that the developers will create a plan which works for residents and puts neighborhoods first.

ImagineVenice

UPDATE

The Hotel Project – Where are we now?

This project is really The Electric Avenue Hotel. If this design moves forward the damage it will do to Oakwood and Venice will be felt forever. There were many design decisions which could have been made to avoid this inevitable destruction to a quiet community. The city’s Planning Department had an opportunity to insist on truck traffic and patron traffic mitigation. They know about the traffic congestion we have in Venice.

Instead, Planning did what it always has done — it ignored clear and obvious future problems and simply made more business-as-usual decisions. A little controversial risk taking and a few out in front thoughtful community oriented decisions were needed. That has not happened. Now this project will be dumped in the lap of the Zoning Administrator for scrutiny and public comment.

We foresee devastation to the now quiet Oakwood community. Truck and patron traffic will inevitably use Oakwood streets instead of Abbot Kinney. Oakwood will become an alternate route to avoid the current traffic backups now a daily occurrence on Abbot Kinney. Since all the hotel and restaurant ingress and egress is on Electric Avenue, expect gridlock on Electric. The inevitable new traffic route through Oakwood residential streets will slam this neighborhood.

As of now, no Zoning Administrator review and public hearing has been scheduled. There is no final sign-off from Planning. The final information for the environmental report has still not been submitted for Planning’s review. We do not know what the hold up is. There is still no truck off-street loading and unloading with driveways designed to direct the trucks for a return to Abbot Kinney.

This hotel project could have been good for Venice. Instead its design and use all of legal loopholes to circumvent the spirit and intent of the Venice Specific Plan was the order of the day. “Putting neighborhoods first” was not its mission as it pushed forward with determination to get max profit potential as it built to the “hotel model.”

A brilliant opportunity has been lost. Venice will pay a big price for this immense failure of vision if this project is built as presently designed.

The Hotel on Abbot Kinney Blvd.

Where are we now?

This project is big, very big. It will take up an entire city block on Abbot Kinney Blvd. in the heart of Venice. The scope of this hotel project is so large it will force a change in our extraordinary neighborhood and the way we currently live in Venice. These are not simply words but a promise of what will be.

Neighborhood Buster

The 1000 block of Abbot Kinney is being developed to the max. It is NOT a development scaled to fit in our neighborhood. Instead it is designed to generate the most money for its investors. We can only imagine how nice it could have been and what an asset it would have been, if only it had been designed to feel and look like our existing neighborhoods. It’s really sad that the developers have taken the easy return on investment model in lieu of replicating the community around Venice. It is a lost opportunity for us in Venice now and in the future. It could have been magic with buildings like the neighborhood in harmony with its surroundings. Instead, what is being proposed is a hotel project scaled to fit just about anywhere in downtown LA or on Venice Boulevard… it was not designed to be in the heart of Venice.

What are the developers really giving us? A massive city block long building, built to the max and then some — shiny and decorated. They think the integration of the old facades of a couple of the current restaurants will mask what this project really is. There is not a scintilla of Venice in this project.

UPDATED 01/20/14

The Sole Owner (an update)

Dan Abrams contacted ImagineVenice to clarify his sole ownership position and stated at this time he has no partners.  He said that while he intends to take on investors in the future, he will retain control.  ImagineVenice.org jumped to conclusions that Abrams had partners due to a document on Public Records dated 3/20/2012 which showed a 6.6 million dollar loan with co-borrowers Wyncoop Properties LLC and two other entities.

Abrams states that the Public Records document are not up-to-date and he is the only borrower on the note.

It is not the intent of ImagineVenice.org to mislead our readers or misrepresent information. We hope the above information clarifies the issue.

ImagineVenice

 

What is next?

This designed project has nothing to do with Venice. It calls out for your disapproval and your insistence that it be re-designed to fit in with our community. Not so difficult a task… for people who really love Venice.

The Venice Neighborhood Council (LUPC) will meet on January 15 and make recommendations.

The Venice Neighbor Council Board will meet on January 21st to review the project. The council will hear from the developers and Venice residents. This meeting is open to all Venice residents.

CHECK THE VNC WEB SITE TO CONFIRM THE TIME AND LOCATION OF THIS MEETING.

ImagineVenice

ImagineVenice

The Hotel – Who’s minding the store?

It’s our store. There does not seem to be anyone out there taking a real look at this city-block-long 92 room hotel with spa, and at least 3 restaurants and bars. Before long, this developer LLC will slam our neighborhood with an endless stream of delivery trucks to service the restaurants and 92 room hotel. You already know about non-stop garbage trucks and how they squeeze in and out of our alleys. Imagine the future when this project gets fully built.

The developers are dancing through the permitting process hoping to get away without providing any off street parking for all their service trucks. The current plan allots approximately 4 parking spaces on Broadway at the curb for all service trucks.

Folks, remember we have a school right in this location. We have many kids who walk down Broadway to get to and from Westminster School. The developers are shutting their eyes to the risks they are building into our neighborhood with the inevitable congestion on Electric, Westminster, Broadway and Abbot Kinney. They are blind to the damage that the truck congestion will do to our neighborhoods. Trucks waiting for a place to load and unload will be forced to wait on the residential streets adjacent to the hotel as they stage to get into its so-called ‘loading dock.’

The developers are attempting to ‘buy’ their list of desired exemptions and exceptions with a few low income units carved somewhere into this project. Is the developer offering to build units for a few people in lieu of actually dedicating land to manage their trucks a fair trade for the residents of Venice? Topping this potential madness is their plan to bust the height limit with a 4th floor!

We are concerned when these LLC developers sell their bonanza project to Four Seasons or Marriott and are rich and long gone, the residents will be left with a nightmare of epic proportions. We hope the city is minding the store.

Say something! Do something!

Councilman:
mike.bonin@lacity.org

Venice Neighborhood Council:
LUPC@venicenc.org
Board@venicenc.org

Worn Linens, Used Furniture and Re-Cycled Oil

Actions speak, words don’t.

We wanted to love the hotel project. We had great hope for its success.
We thought the developer group would do this project with an authentic sensitivity and a determination to fit right into the scale of the neighborhood.

The hope just died.

We just took a look at the drawings and the renderings of this city-block-long project. We read the developer’s description of how much they were doing for the community by building it. We had no idea they would focus on how to build around the rules for scale in the Venice Specific Plan.

No other word than “stunning” comes to mind when you see it in black and white.

The project’s precedent-setting height, unmitigated truck and trash management, lack of employee parking and other big issues will negatively impact the surrounding community more than any other issue has in the last 50 years. We are not even going to get into the horrifying ‘mass’ issue in this edition. One thing is certain at first glance, this is not a project which will be in scale either in size or ambiance with our neighborhood. Expect our focus on the scale when they reveal more detailed drawings.

What were we thinking? Why did we actually believe we were going to get a sweet hotel nestled right in which would look and feel like its been here for years? We were hoping for winner– a one-of-a-kind hotel that was welcomed by the community? We were delusional!

The developer group presented how ‘green’ they will be and how much money they will be giving local groups and schools while all the time they never got off their track to build the biggest hotel and maximum rooms they could get on the land. They have a ‘model’ of how much money they will make with so many rooms. And, that is this project’s mission. The model is the mission. They must be granted variances to the Venice Specific Plan if they are to achieve that mission.

Benefits to Venice?

92 rooms in a height-busting structure modeled to fit the profit scheme they set for this hotel/restaurant /bar/spa operation. Their determination to use every inch of land to bring in revenue is evident in every line they drew on their plans–and in what they did not draw.

Despite claims otherwise, we see absolutely no evidence that they made even the slightest effort to design to a scale which would fit comfortably, nicely into the neighborhood. There is no friendly and welcoming local hotel here– you could plop it down just about anywhere and let the revenue stream begin flowing.

More benefits?

92 rooms, multiple restaurants and bars, and all the other ancillary hotel services in an over-height structure which will paralyze all nearby local streets with its 24/7 delivery trucks and trash trucks to say nothing of guest arrival auto congestion.

The developers could not give up a teensy bit of revenue-earning land to provide a serious loading and unloading dock for management of all the trucks. Instead, they expand a sidewalk area the size of a small beach lot and designated it their loading and unloading area.

On top of the truck congestion they are building into their project, they have no serious management of the trash storage and collection. We already know about their current trash ‘management’ and how much room trash trucks need to pick up the trash bins.

Think about Abbot Kinney, Broadway and Electric blocked and backed up with trucks trying to get in and get out of this hotel operation every day of the week. You already know how the trucks double park in alleys now and line up in the center of Abbot Kinney to make their deliveries. Our conclusion is that the developers did not designate more than token space for trucks and trash because doing that would cost them profit. Their eyes are closed shut to what they are going to do to the neighborhood with this plan. Why? Because their profit model demands 92 rooms!

The developer’s gift’s to the community:

1. The hotel’s worn linens donated to the poor
2. The hotel’s used furniture donated to the poor
3. They will re-cycle their cooking oil
4. Increased revenue for the City
5. They will spread around a money-pot for various local groups to buy their support
6. Jobs

The hotel as presently proposed will burden the community forever and ever. It will destroy the irreplaceable ‘touch and feel’ of this wonderful neighborhood. When these developers leave and cash in with a future sale of a deluxe hotel operation on ‘the coolest street in America’ to a Marriott or Peninsula Group, we will be left with the detritus of this ill-thought-out project.

The proposal by this group demands all of our attention. If you don’t speak up and insist they get it right for our community, it will get built as they want it. We will be forced to cope with a permanent and daily endurance test as we struggle to live with its long-term effects.

It doesn’t have to be this way. Venice residents must get involved. Follow this project closely. Only resident involvement and their insistence will assure that this hotel development be good for our community.

ImagineVenice

Important Meeting – Proposed Hotel

Front Side Hotel Project 2

There will be a meeting of the Venice Neighborhood Council LUPC Committee
on June 5th at 6:45pm at the Oakwood Recreation Center. The hotel project will be discussed, and there will be a presentation by the developers. We hope to hear comments from Venice residents at this meeting.

This will be an important information event. We hope there will be wide interest and large attendance from Venice residents. A project of this size will have many long-term effects on the community. We all need to be fully informed.

The simple size of the project has already garnered lots of comments and interest. The developer says that the renderings now out for public viewing are drawings of the project’s ‘mass’ but not the actual architecture. This project will be constructed on the block between Broadway and Westminster at 1033 Abbot Kinney. Besides its obvious height and mass, the project will create other significant effects on the community. Its impact on the immediate adjacent neighborhoods and its residents requires our serious and thoughtful evaluation. If this project is going to get built, Venice residents can have a positive and constructive impact on its final plans by making your opinions known to the developer and to the City.

Once all of the facts are made known, ImagineVenice will focus on them in depth. We hope to have the big facts to present in Edition 7 and we intend to discuss the positives and negatives of the project as best we can after we figure out what they are. We expect that our meeting with the developer at the end of May will illuminate many of the gray issues.

Mark your calendars for this very important information event.

Venice Neighborhood Council LUPC Committee

Oakwood Recreation Center

6:45pm June 5

ImagineVenice

Proposed Hotel

We met recently with Dan Abrams in his offices on Abbot Kinney Boulevard about his plans to develop a boutique hotel on the Street. Dan owns the block long parcel bordered by Broadway and Westminster Avenue.

Dan, his architect David Hertz from Studio of Environmental Architecture and his co developer, Rethink have conducted three community meetings so far to share their vision of the project.

According to what he told us, Dan has already submitted preliminary plans to the city for a 4-story 42+’ high hotel development between Westminster and Broadway. We have not seen the plans.

We feel strongly that this is a development that demands our community’s full attention.

The current height limit on Abbot Kinney is 30′. There is a variance of up to 35′ if the building’s design includes a variable roofline. This is not the case with Dan’s proposed hotel.

We suggested to Dan that most Venetians would welcome his hotel, if it were designed to fit comfortably in the existing neighborhood. We feel that a precedent-setting 42+’ high structure does not do that. We’ve seen this before with the proposed development of the Rey Hotel, which was ultimately abandoned, as no agreement could be reached with the city or the community.

Other items of the development include:

-92 Rooms on 4 floors
-A hotel restaurant at 1031 AKB
-Automated Parking off Electric one level below ground. Amount of spaces was not discussed
-Hotel Courtyard and Spa

Also, very important with solutions unknown at this time:

-Provisions for delivery trucks and their impact on the surrounding residential streets.
-Employee Parking

Dan and his team stress the positive aspects of their efforts, such as building “green,” providing jobs in the community, and the advantage of a new community-gathering place. Although this is admirable, it does not alleviate our concerns about over- building, congestion and more parking problems. We must keep this in mind.

We offered our thoughts that perhaps a smaller boutique hotel that fits right into the current building codes would be a better solution, coupled with a definite plan for the extra traffic of delivery trucks. We don’t know whether the development team will give serious consideration to our suggestions– but we are hopeful!

We believe there are a number of pluses that this hotel could bring to all. Having a nice place in the community filled with guests and their associated spending power is a benefit. The restaurant and spa will immediately bring more life to the street with increased foot traffic to the quieter end of Abbot Kinney. And with the lighting for the hotel and restaurant will come improved security, too.

We will keep you informed of this project’s progress as it proceeds. We hope you will care enough to make your opinions known as it passes through the various agencies.