Former car wash owners propose 139-unit development in Los Feliz

A decade ago, the Pirian brothers were fined $1.25M for wage theft issues

Nov.November 13, 2019 02:05 PM
The car wash at 1666 N. Vermont Avenue (Credit: Google Maps)
The car wash at 1666 N. Vermont Avenue (Credit: Google Maps)

Two brothers who got into hot water over a car wash wage theft issue a decade ago, are hoping to replace one of the facilities with a 139-unit mixed-development in L.A.’s Los Feliz neighborhood.

Prolific Santa Monica-based architect Daryoush Safai is working with the two brothers on designs for the project, according to Benny Pirian, who along with his brother Piaman Pirian was accused in 2009 of not paying 54 car wash employees a total of $1.25 million in wages.

Back in 2010, the Pirians made headlines when each pleaded no contest to a half-dozen criminal counts, including conspiracy and grand theft, and labor code violations at their car washes. The Pirian brothers were each sentenced to a year in jail by the L.A. City Attorney’s office a decade ago.

When reached for comment, Benny Pirian told The Real Deal that neither he nor his brother actually ended up serving jail time but had repaid the $1.25 million fine. City officials confirmed it.

“I don’t want to talk about this. It happened eight or nine years ago. I don’t want to be rude, but it’s not relevant to my project,” he said.

The site, which is located at 1666 N. Vermont Ave., is eligible for density bonuses and other incentives as part of the city’s Transit Oriented Communities program, which provides incentives that encourage market-rate developers to include affordable units in projects located near transit hubs.

The program aims to streamline the development process and incentivize affordable housing development by implementing a section of Measure JJJ, which was passed by L.A. voters in Nov. 2016.

The Pirians purchased the property along Vermont Avenue in 2011.

Through their limited liability company Vermont Real Estate Properties LLC, the Pirians want to raze the car wash along Vermont Avenue and build a multifamily development in its place. It’s unclear what the Pirians paid for the property, but Benny said the family has owned it since the early 2000s. The other three car washes owned by the Pirians in Hollywood and Northridge were previously sold, Pirian said.

The brothers filed plans for 16 of the 139 units to be set aside for “extremely low-income” renters, and roughly 12,000 square feet for commercial space.

The property is situated on a 28,000-square foot lot at the intersection of Vermont and Prospect Avenue.

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