The city of Beverly Hills has approved a mixed-use development project for the "Golden Triangle" commercial area that will include a flagship Crate & Barrel store along with parking, office and retail space.

The four-story, 86,650-square-foot project will include a subterranean parking structure, according to David Lightner, the city's director of economic development.

The project is to be built on what is now a surface parking lot between North Beverly and North Canon drives.

The so-called Beverly-Canon Parking/Retail Project is being designed by San Francisco-based Field & Paoli Architects and is being developed by Regent Properties.

Crate & Barrel has signed a 12-year lease for what will be a 38,000-square-foot flagship store facing out onto Beverly.

The city hopes to alleviate acute parking problems in the Golden Triangle by replacing the current 122 striped parking slots at the site with 498 subterranean spots.

But merchants already operating in the area are concerned about how customers will park during the 18-month construction process, and where deliveries will be unloaded. Some say they also are angry about the way the city went about approving the project. To air their views more persuasively, more than 50 local business owners have formed the Beverly/Canon Merchants Association.

"The city attorney determined that (Beverly Hills) was exempt from going through the process that any private developer would have to, even though the majority of the property is going to be occupied by private enterprises under favorable leases with the city," claimed Maury Fischer, an attorney for the association.

City Attorney Larry Wiener countered that the city conducted a series of studies on parking, traffic and noise, which resulted in a "mitigated negative declaration" meaning the city felt there would be no adverse affects on parking and traffic flows within the Golden Triangle.

"How can there be no impact?" asked Fran Berger, proprietor of The Farm restaurant, which is contiguous to the project site. "Parking is horrific here any time of day. Don't take me for stupid."

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