Edition 3
February 25, 2013

Abbot Kinney Boulevard

The game has changed !

The recent purchase of five properties on Abbot Kinney including 1103, 1118 & 1126, 1201, and 1205 by Blatteis & Schnur, a major developer and investment firm, is significant. They are professional developers with particular expertise in catering to high-end tenants. Their history (according to their website) includes leasing to major tenants such as Barney’s and Cheesecake Factory.

With the entry of these buyers, we are seeing more national and international development attention coming to our town. Historically, Venice property has passed between buyers and sellers more intimately familiar with our community. Blatteis & Schnur are investors who appear to have a made a strategic purchase.

Let’s hope that these “big boys” take time to understand our community and choose to nestle in and take their place on the Street as if they have been here for years. They now own 4 iconic brick buildings. We invite them to walk the street and check out the new Tom’s and FEED body & soul. As we mentioned recently, these two new remodels really fit beautifully on the Street and look like they have been here for years.

We encourage Blatteis & Schnur to protect our unique aesthetic with thoughtful remodeling of these iconic facades as a way of preserving value for everyone. We have already experienced the double-lot remodel at 1308 AKB in the style of a more typical commercial shopping arcade that could easily be on Rodeo or in the Promenade. Unfortunately, this remodel has gotten many negative comments from friends and neighbors of the Street.

We look forward to saluting Blatteis & Schnur for thoughtful and beautiful remodels in future editions of ImagineVenice!

AKB liquor store changes

We would like to point out another great example of a neighborhood friendly building on Abbot Kinney.

1360 AKB houses a brick building that is more than 80 years old. It has been occupied for many years by one tenant, Lucky Stop No 2 Liquor. This shop was certainly unmemorable with its typical urban liquor shop facade.

Imagine Venice Abbott Kinney Liquor

The new owner divided the building in half, created a very snappy piece of architecture housing the liquor store and the new Will Leather. As you can see, this remodel is a wonderful addition to the texture of AKB.

ImagineVenice says ‘thank you’ for another terrific architectural transformation.

Alarm Bells !

Craig Weiss, owner of Local 1205 has filed an application again to sell beer and wine at his market / restaurant. In 2010, he unsuccessfully filed a Conditional Use Permit for the sale of beer and wine for on-and off-site consumption. Both the permit and his appeal were denied. Now, he’s trying again. What’s changed?

At this writing we are not certain what requests are being made on his latest application but we have noticed an obvious “table creep” underway at Local 1205 with the very evident installation of increased seating. Weiss’ former request for 29 seats (including outside seating) was denied. Does Weiss have a permit for the number of seats he is filling at his ‘market’ now? Does his new filing include a request for even more?

The Other Room, also owned by Mr. Weiss, is a constant late night noise generator and we worry that the adjacent Local 1205 with a beer and wine license will only make the situation worse. We will keep you informed as this application moves through the City.

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.

Venice Parking Update

Congratulations to Mark Ryavec and his Venice Stakeholders Association, which has worked tirelessly for years to make some order out of the parking chaos in Venice.

Amazingly, his group has reached a tentative settlement with the Coastal Commission to allow residents to install restricted overnight parking on their blocks, if two thirds of the residents are in agreement. Also, this settlement effectively stops the proposed scheme for installing diagonal parking spaces on five streets in the Windward Circle area.

Preferential parking for residents on commercial streets and the immediately adjacent streets is also on the horizon, while providing restricted parking for diners and shoppers.

Read about the entire settlement at venicestakeholdersassociation.org.

We welcome your comments and hope you will share ImagineVenice with others. Thanks for reading this 3rd Edition.