Charlie Munger Withdraws Application for Green Hollow Square Project in Brentwood

The billionaire’s plan to tear down the historic Barry Building and build a shopping complex on San Vicente Boulevard is over.

Rendering of the possible Green Hollow Square development project in Brentwood. (Photo courtesy http://www.greenhollowsquare.com)
Rendering of the possible Green Hollow Square development project in Brentwood. (Photo courtesy http://www.greenhollowsquare.com)

Billionaire Charlie Munger has withdrawn his application to build a controversial shopping complex called Green Hollow Square on San Vicente Boulevard in Brentwood.

“Charlie withdrew his papers and will not pursue a project,” Brentwood Community Council President Nancy Freedman said in an email to Patch.    

Munger’s withdrawal of his application with the city of Los Angeles to build the project brings an end to what has been perhaps the most hotly debated development issue in Brentwood the last few years.

Joel Miller, a land use consultant working for Munger, officially withdrew the project's zoning entitlement application with the city in a letter on Oct. 31 to Councilman Mike Bonin's office (see attached).

A public meeting on Green Hollow Square drew a record crowd to the Brentwood Community Council in 2012. While many expressed support of the project, it was also met with significant opposition due to its plan to demolish the Barry Building, which was designated a Los Angeles Historic Cultural Monument in 2007. Other Brentwood residents at public meetings also expressed concerns about increased traffic on San Vicente Boulevard, with one woman even shedding tears over her fears of traffic blocking ambulance service for her disabled husband. 

The plan for Green Hollow Square, located at 11973 San Vicente Blvd., was to build a 73,000 square foot neighborhood commercial center that would include retail, restaurant and office space. The design concept would create a “village-like gathering place made up of walkways and open-air courtyards,” according to the website greenhollowsquare.com, which was set up to answer questions and provide information on the project.

Patch left messages with the project via email and voicemail for comment on this story but did not receive a response.

It’s unclear what the future holds for the property, which is owned by Munger, a famous billionaire and close associate of Warren Buffet.

“I don't know what the future of the property will be.” Freedman said. “In the past [Munger] has said he would let his children deal with it or sell it. I don't know that he has any immediate plans for either option. That is about as much as I know as to what will happen next.”

At the center of the controversy was the project’s plan to demolish the Barry Building. While Munger’s approved Final Environmental Impact Report (FEIR) included an alternate rendering showing the project with the Barry Building retained and integrated into the larger project, Miller stated at public meetings that Munger is not interested in preserving the Barry Building in that location, but that he will make it available to anyone who wishes to take it.

Miller said at public meetings that there are several problems with the building as it stands now, including that it is not compliant with current code requirements for environmentally friendly buildings, it does meet the standards of the Americans with Disabilities Act, and the ceiling heights in the building are too low for current preferences by potential retail and restaurant tenants. 

In the end it seems the historic protection of the Barry Building was too big of a hurdle for the project to get support at City Hall. 

Bonin, who was elected earlier this year to represent Brentwood and Council District 11, said he supported the project but did not support tearing down the Barry Building. Former CD11 Councilman Bill Rosendahl also said he supported the project but not the demolition of the Barry Building. 

"I told Mr. Munger what I have told anyone everyone who has ever asked me about the project - that I support development of the property with neighborhood-serving retail, and that I would welcome a proposal that gives local residents options to shop and dine without increasing traffic or parking woes in the area," Bonin said in an email to Patch. "I will not support demolition of the building, which is deemed culturally and historically significant. I will, however, encourage development that preserves the building that once housed Dutton's bookstore."

The project’s FEIR was released in February on 2012, and the final approval for the project would have required a vote by the L.A. City Council. (Correction: an earlier version of this story said the FEIR was approved by the city council, but it was only released.)

In 2012, the Brentwood Community Council BCC made a decision neither to support nor oppose the Green Hollow Square project, while the Los Angeles Cultural Heritage Commission voted unanimously to support preservation of the Barry Building.

Check out these previous stories on Green Hollow Square:

Matt Sanderson contributed to this report. 

John jones November 13, 2013 at 04:22 PM
The Barry Building should never have been designated historic. These are the same people who are in favor of the Stop Sign at Bundy & Mayfield, which actually does cause traffic, car fumes and road rage. Mr. Munger is a great man with an excellent reputation. I hereby designate the people in favor of preserving that eyesore of a building Moron status.
jkanraym November 14, 2013 at 03:09 PM
i wish the project could have been built. i think charlie and his architects had wonderful ideas for a neighborhood project and would have fulfilled a need for community shops and extra parking and restaurants on that end of san vicente. i hope someone will build a low key shopping and dining complex such as the green hollow square with another name.
John jones November 16, 2013 at 12:31 AM
If I had Charlie's money, I would reopen the existing Barry Building without even a paint job as a Homeless Services Center. I would bus in homeless from 5th and San Julian in Skid Row so that they can appreciate the architecture and functionality of this beautiful historic building. In order to appease any opposing neighbors, I would mandate that Mr. Munger provide sustainable food. It would also give our young daughters at Brentwood & Archer a chance to experience philanthropy, diversity, & architecture. A win win for everybody.
Chris B November 17, 2013 at 12:49 AM
Mr. Jones: I had not even have thought of a homeless services center. What a great idea! As we all know, there are many homeless in Brentwod; perhaps if we establish a liason with the V.A....well, I don't know how to do it. But, you have a great idea. Let's see if we can work with the V.A. and the Community Council to make your idea a reality! cb
John jones November 17, 2013 at 12:58 PM
Hi Chris. I sincerely appreciate & thank you for your support. But I think you might have misunderstood my comments. My comments were aimed more at the disenfranchised homeless in Skid Row who are unable to enjoy the beauty & architecture of the Barry Building. On Friday evening, I made it as far as Bundy & Wilshire with Dirty Mike & the Boys from Skid Row. Traffic was fierce because of the Stop Sign at Mayfield. When Mike spotted a parked Red Prius, the Boys were becoming anxious. So we pulled over & had a soup kitchen in the Prius. Never quite made it past Mayfield. Chris, if you'd like to participate in an upcoming soup kitchen, please let me know. Thanks.
Elin Frankel Schwartz November 20, 2013 at 04:20 AM
John J your bitter sarcasm is an example of our society's loss of the ability to conduct civil discourse or tolerate others' opinions. Your disrespect for the homeless by presenting them as the Booby Prize for preserving the Barry Building is truly contemptible. Your comments are an embarrassment and serve to justify the low opinion the rest of the city has if the privileged few in Brentwood.
John jones November 20, 2013 at 05:40 AM
Hi Elin. Rule #1: Don't take yourself so seriously. FYI, I give respect to those who deserve it. When is the last time you had a homeless person over to your house to take a shower or to give a meal to? Do you even have "a" black friend? Do you have minorities over to your house who aren't workers? Do you still cuddle with your unemployed living at home adult children who you defend as very "bright"? Mr. Munger's building should not have been designated as historical by a select "privileged few". Elin, goodnight my African American sister. Enjoyed the discourse. Not too much respect for your opinion on Mr. Munger's building.
Elin Frankel Schwartz November 20, 2013 at 08:15 AM
I apologize. When I posted my previous remarks I didn't realize I was corresponding with someone who is mentally disturbed.
John jones November 20, 2013 at 08:59 PM
Good luck to you Elin. For the record, I work often in skid row & in south central. We are vey lucky to live in Brentwood. Elin, you are oh so wrong that the rest of the city has a low opinion of the people in Brentwood. Where did you possibly get that impression? I've only found my neighbors to be totally accepting of my family. Residents of Brentwood & the Palisades are terrific people. Truly lucky to live in such a great area. Regarding the Munger project, I admit that I am selfishly glad that I won't have to deal with traffic associated with the construction phase of any new project. That still doesn't make it right to take away a man's right to develop his property legally and ethically. Not only does Mr. Munger have an excellent reputation, so do the people of Brentwood.
Wendy November 20, 2013 at 11:27 PM
Mr. Jones: The community that supported saving the Barry asked Mr. Munger to integrate it into his shopping center. He could have moved forward with the design proposed in the documents he filed with the City or redesigned the project to integrate the Barry. He decided not to move forward with either. There are also local zoning laws and his project would have required the City to grant him a multitude of deviations from code. That is not a right. If he developed what he could by code, it would have been much less than what he was proposing.
John jones November 21, 2013 at 07:02 PM
Hi Wendy. Yes, everything you state above is correct. Everything stated in my comments above yours is also correct, "a mans right to develop his property legally and ethically". Furthermore and in my opinion, it is not right for a select few people to get together and designate a private citizen's building as historic just in order to prevent a future development of that man's property. Very few people even know the name of that architect let alone any other significant projects completed by this unknown architect. Sorry, but that building never should have been designated as historic. Yes, Rosendahl is a nice guy. But he's about as sharp as a marble. Let's see if the new guy, MB, will remove the Stop Sign at Bundy & Mayfield in order to increase traffic flow. In the meantime, I encourage everyone to honk their horns as loudly as possible at that intersection until MB removes the Stop Sign.


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