Billionaire Charlie Munger has withdrawn his application to build a controversial shopping complex called Green Hollow Square on San Vicente Boulevard in Brentwood.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:
- Brentwood Council Meeting Draws Record Crowd
- Cultural Heritage Commission Supports Barry Building…
- BCC Decision on GHS Surprises Community
- Residents Opposed to Barry Building Bulldozing
Matt Sanderson contributed to this report.