Final environmental report released on Hollywood Center

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Wave Wire Service

LOS ANGELES — The city Planning Department has released the final environmental report on the Hollywood Center, a planned $1 billion mixed-use development that would provide retail space as well as 133 residential units for very-low- to extremely low-income older adults.

We appreciate the ongoing and thoughtful dialogue around this project and celebrate the milestone that the release of the [report] represents, as it brings Hollywood Center one step closer to delivering a bright future to the community,” said Mario Palumbo, a managing partner with Millennium Partners, the developer of the project.

Millennium Partners said the Hollywood Center will create jobs, deliver much-needed affordable housing and promote a green and sustainable development as a Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design gold-standard project.

Plans for the development include a 46-story building near Hollywood and Vine west of the Capitol Records Building and a 35-story structure to the east. It also includes two smaller buildings that would be 11 stories each.

The developments altogether would include 1,005 residential units, comprising 872 market-rate (including the 133 senior affordable units), and up to 30,176 square feet of commercial uses within the four mixed-use buildings, according to the Planning Department.

Millennium Partners stated on its website that it hopes to start construction on the project by 2022.

But the Hollywood Center has not proceeded without controversy.

Attorneys for the Stop the Millennium Hollywood Coalition said they believe the most recent environmental reports the developer submitted to the city’s planning staff left out critical data related to possible earthquakes.

We have much more evidence, in fact bombshell evidence, that the project site … is riddled with earthquake faults,” Robert Silverstein, the attorney for the Stop the Millennium Hollywood told City News Service in July.

“If Los Angeles City Hall has any integrity, it will listen to the preeminent United States Geological Survey and California Geological Survey and not approve Millennium’s dangerous new proposal.”

A letter from the California Geological Survey in July to the city Planning Department said scientists found multiple fault lines capable of causing an earthquake where the development of Hollywood Center is planned.

These studies strongly support the presence of an active southern fault strand entering the eastern Hollywood Center property in the vicinity of the alley at Argyle,” the letter stated.

The U.S. Geological Survey on May 8 issued its own peer-reviewed analysis of the Hollywood Fault zone in the immediate area of the proposal that analyzed multiple seismic datasets and models, all of which showed near-surface fault traces of the Hollywood Fault in the same locations, the California Geological Survey stated in the letter.

The U.S. Geological Survey study showed four fault projections that run through the area where the buildings are proposed, with some going directly through the planned sites.

The final environmental report discusses the studies from the U.S. Geological Survey and California Geological Survey in 2015 and 2019, but it states those studies did not find active fault lines.

Philip Aarons, a founder of Millennium Partners, said in a statement provided to City News Service that he disputes the state’s conclusions in the letter, as he has in the past.

It is clear that the data relied upon by the state is significantly inferior in quality to the data acquired from the extensive trenching done on our site,” Aarons said. “We will continue to work diligently with the city to review any and all data with the goal of assuring the construction of the most seismically safe structure in the history of Los Angeles.”

Aarons said a new study was conducted for the latest environmental review process of the project and it found no active fault lines beneath the proposed site, and he said California Geological Survey was onsite during the investigation.

Millennium Partners filed a complaint last week with the California Natural Resources Agency that claims the California Geological Survey mishandled its assessment of seismic safety for the project.

The arguments over whether the site is safe to build the skyscrapers go back to 2013, when the Los Angeles City Council approved the projects. But it has been challenged in court multiple times by the coalition.

The most recent decision came from the U.S. Court of Appeals last September, which deemed the that the draft environmental reports for the project violated the California Environmental Quality Act because the project description was not stable and finite.

Another 13,000-page environmental impact report was published for public comment by the City Planning Department on April 16 and closed June 1, and people may not have been able to adequately comment due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Silverstein said.

The final environmental impact report will be made available during public hearings before the City Council, City Planning Commission and the council’s Planning and Land Use Management Committee.

The final environmental impact report, the documents referenced in the final report and the whole case file are also available for public review — by appointment only — at the City Department of City Planning, 221 N. Figueroa St., Suite 1450.

Comments can be submitted to Mindy Nguyen of City Planning at mindy.nguyen@lacity.org, but unlike the draft environmental report, Los Angeles is not required to respond to comments on the final document.