Developer Roy McNeill has petitioned the city to build what could be the final high-rise office building on the Westside.
If Los Angeles City Council approves his request for entitlements, McNeill would construct a $32 million, 17-story building at Barrington Avenue and Wilshire Boulevard, which is the final Westside parcel exempt from height restrictions imposed by the city.
McNeill, one of the developers of the original Sherman Oaks Galleria, said the property has been in his family for 70 years, but his father, Hector McNeill, did not want to build a high-rise. The property currently contains a strip mall with McNeill's offices, as well as stores selling liquor, luggage, salad and shoes. McNeill's father died in 1976 and McNeill and his brother, H.G. McNeill, have been looking into how to make the office building a reality ever since.
"The market wasn't really strong enough for the last 11 years to do anything," McNeill said.
The market isn't really strong right now either. The stumbling economy has virtually shut down leasing activity and a recent survey of Westside office space shows 1.9 million square feet of sublease space available.
"I don't think that today is the right time to build the space," said Gary Weiss, managing director at Credit Suisse First Boston Realty. "Could he get financing right now on spec? How quickly could he lease it on spec if he does get it financed?"
Andrew Sobel, executive vice president at Arden Realty Inc., which owns the World Savings high-rise office building a block away from McNeill's site, has backed the proposal.
"From a general standpoint I think it's great for the marketplace," Sobel said. "I look at it as not competitive, but he's taking out older stock and replacing it with Class A product."
Sobel pointed out that it could take McNeill close to a year to secure all entitlements, get financing and put shovels to dirt.
Project architect Herb Nadel said the building would include 135,000 square feet of rentable office space on eight floors. The building would have seven levels of parking above-grade and a ground-floor retail component.
Nadel said the new building would be a "boutique office building" with 17,000-square-foot floor plates.
A city zoning administrator is scheduled to release a report this week of findings from a May public hearing regarding the project. Neighbors and Los Angeles City Councilwoman Cindy Miscikowski raised concerns, mainly about traffic.
An aide to Miscikowski, said the agreement meets the councilwoman's satisfaction.
For reprint and licensing requests for this article, CLICK HERE.