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Dear LAist: What's Happening With The Sunset Gordon Tower And Public Park In Hollywood?

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The high-rise apartments and public park at Sunset Boulevard and Gordon Street in Hollywood has been vacant for more than three years. (Courtesy city of Los Angeles)
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WE'RE ANSWERING THE QUESTIONS ABOUT SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA THAT KEEP YOU UP AT NIGHT. IF YOU HAVE ONE, ASK IT HERE.


The towering apartment building on Sunset Boulevard and Gordon Street in Hollywood has 299 dwelling units as well as office and retail space, a ground-floor restaurant and a public park. Too bad it's been sitting empty for three years.

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Following landowner changes, legal battles with a neighborhood association, environmental reports and tenant evictions, the 22-story high-rise at 5929 W. Sunset Blvd. was vacated in 2015, and the roughly half-acre public park was closed off.

An LAist reader asked us the status of the development and if it will ever reopen. Here's what we know.

FIRST, SOME BACKGROUND

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(Courtesy Christopher A. Joseph & Associates)

The development was approved back in July 2008, when Portland-based real estate firm Gerding Edlen was behind the project. Homeowner groups took the city to court, stalling the project and leading to a notice of default on the $9 million land loan.

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Fast-forward to 2011, when the land was sold to the CIM Group. That developer started building and eventually opened the high-rise, a parking structure and a public park. Then came another lawsuit from the La Mirada Avenue Neighborhood Association.

If that name sounds familiar, that's because it's also the group that led the charge to stop construction on Hollywood's infamous Target husk, which has been sitting half-finished on Sunset, several blocks east of the Sunset Gordon tower. A recent reversal on a court decision means the development could soon become a real Target.

At the heart of La Mirada's lawsuit was "the fact that some permits were issued in violation of project approvals," according to Lauren Alba, a spokeswoman for L.A.'s Department of City Planning.

CIM had demolished the site's Old Spaghetti Factory building, which it was required to preserve as part of the project's approval. Built in 1924, the Spanish-style structure existed first as an auto showroom and later as the studios of KNX radio before becoming a restaurant.

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A replica facade of the demolished Old Spaghetti Factory building was constructed in 2014.(Courtesy city of Los Angeles)
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A Superior Court judge ruled for the La Mirada group in 2014. The Court of Appeal reaffirmed that ruling in 2015 and the city's Department of Building and Safety issued residents with an Order to Vacate. Since the park was part of the development, it too was closed, and the high-rise has been a 22-story blight in Hollywood ever since. But that may be about to change.

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The public park at the Sunset Gordon apartment tower has been closed off since 2015. (Courtesy city of Los Angeles)

WHAT NOW?

Things are looking up for the Sunset Gordon tower -- and the public park. L.A.'s planning department recently re-approved the project plans -- with a few amendments. Those include increasing the number of affordable housing units, from 15 to 30, and nixing a proposal to build a new automated steel parking structure on top of the existing one because the city says it wants to avoid more excavation.

The developer will also be required to create a replica of the demolished Old Spaghetti Factory and preserve "key elements" of the 1924 building.

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Lauren Alba said final approval of the project will be decided by the City Council, where it's scheduled to go before the Planning and Land Use Management Committee on Nov. 6. If they approve it, the proposal goes to the full council for a vote.

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If you're wondering why there's a helipad on the roof (as I was), that's because the city code requires every high-rise in L.A. to construct a "Emergency Helicopter Landing Facility" for fire department helicopters in case of an emergency, like, say, a fire in a high-rise. (Courtesy city of Los Angeles)

So, if the city gives the project the greenlight, when can people start moving back in? That's up to CIM, Alba said.

"Once the decision becomes final, (CIM) is responsible for obtaining building permits and a Certificate of Occupancy before the units can be occupied again," she said.

It's unclear how much the apartments would rent for, but the L.A. Times talked to one soon-to-be-evicted tenant in 2015 who was paying $2,295 for a one-bedroom. It's hard to imagine prices have gone down.

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