Onni Group’s proposed 1,130-unit megaproject at Times Mirror Square has just one final approval left before construction can begin.
The Los Angeles City Council’s Planning and Land Use Committee voted 3-0 to deny an appeal and approve the project, according to the Los Angeles Times. That means the developer now awaits the full Council’s vote on the sprawling construction.
The Council committee approved the project after Onni agreed to a handful of changes Councilman Kevin de León sought. He represents the Downtown L.A. district where Times Mirror Square will rise. The changes include shifting 34 workforce housing units to moderate- and low-income units.
The Council tends to follow the lead of the local council member on development issues, making de León arguably the most important single decision-maker that Onni had to win over.
Onni has been planning the project since 2016, when it bought the development site for $100 million. In addition to the residential units, the 1.51-million-square-foot construction will include retail space and office space.
The project was appealed nearly every step of the way and in May, a representative for the developer said it was “very possible” the project wouldn’t be completed if delays continued and the economy worsened.
If the full Council approves the project, its decision can still be appealed. But proposals that make it through to that stage are usually not held up.
The appeal that the Council committee denied came from a group called Supporters Alliance for Environmental Responsibility, or SAFER. The organization includes members of Laborers’ International Union of North America. SAFER has fought other projects in L.A. and surrounding cities.
A unit of Onni called Onni Contracting Inc. was also discovered to have given $50,000 to a campaign committee connected to disgraced former L.A. Councilman Jose Huizar, the Times previously reported. The payment was made a couple of months before an important vote, in which the city awarded historic-cultural monument status to a pair of former Los Angeles Times buildings at the development site but denied that status for a third. That rejection made it easier for the Onni project to move ahead, the Times reported. The federal government has charged Huizar with 41 criminal counts involving racketeering and fraud, contending he ran an elaborate criminal enterprise in which he accepted cash bribes and other gifts from developers in exchange for helping them get Downtown projects approved. He has pleaded not guilty and Onni has not been charged in connection with the scandal though other developers have been. [LAT] — Dennis Lynch