Caruso flap with Hackman centers on street at The Grove

Access road shared with Television City development could impact future mall expansion

From left: Rick Caruso and Hackman Capital Partners’ Zach Sokoloff
From left: Rick Caruso and Hackman Capital Partners’ Zach Sokoloff (Getty, Hackman Capital)

UPDATED, Aug. 22, 2022, 12:04 p.m.: A 1.8-million-square-foot project and it all comes down to a half-mile road.

Caruso, the real estate firm run by mayoral candidate Rick Caruso, is waging a campaign over Hackman Capital Partners’ proposed Television City studio development — a campaign that centers on one key detail: The Grove Drive.

The street stands between the Television City site, which Hackman acquired from CBS in 2019 for $750 million, and Caruso’s The Grove mall on Beverly Boulevard. Caruso has privately pushed Hackman to restrict all use of Grove Drive — a key access point into The Grove — to perhaps keep the door open for any future development, sources familiar with these conversations told TRD.

“Caruso’s biggest concerns were the studio’s proposed use of The Grove Drive,” said Zach Sokoloff, who is managing the Television City project for Hackman. However, The Grove Drive, which runs from Beverly Boulevard south to 3rd Street, is a public street, meaning there are no limitations on traffic or how the street can be used.

Caruso is now supporting the Beverly Fairfax Community Alliance — a group formed to “publicly raise and address significant concerns” with Hackman’s project.

Questions and requests for comment directed to Caruso were diverted to the alliance, which responded with a blanket statement outlining the group’s purpose. In a separate note, the Beverly Fairfax Community Alliance confirmed The Grove was donating to the group.

The group focuses on how the project will impact the community and increase traffic in the area. But those familiar with the proposals say any increase in traffic volume would be minimal.

The project’s impact to traffic “would be less than significant,” according to a spokesperson for the L.A. City Planning Department.

Plans often call for the calculation of vehicle miles traveled — the total miles of all vehicles traveled in one area in a given period. Based on 2019 traffic analysis, the intersection of Grove Drive and Caruso Place — the entrance to The Grove — is seeing a peak vehicle volume of about 14 percent of its total capacity in the mornings, according to Hackman’s draft environmental impact review for the project. According to Television City’s estimates, that volume is expected to rise to 18 percent once the project is completed in 2026.

Sign Up for the undefined Newsletter

At the intersection of The Grove Drive and Beverly Boulevard in 2019, peak volume in the evenings was 73 percent of total capacity. With the project, it’s expected to rise to about 90 percent in peak night traffic.

Though minimal, increases in volume would present challenges for Caruso, if he moved forward with any expansion of The Grove. The firm has not disclosed any plans to expand the property.

An increase in volume doesn’t necessarily restrict new development, but developers have to consider the total capacity of roadways when building something new. Any developer, including Caruso, could not build a project that would exceed the street’s capacity, unless they made significant changes to the road, such as widening, adding streets or adding stoplights.

“They’re preserving the ample available capacity for their own personal benefit — future development of The Grove,” according to a source familiar with the project and Hackman’s conversations with Caruso. The alliance said this statement was false, adding The Grove has no expansion plans at this time.

Caruso has not added any more square footage to The Grove since the firm acquired the ground lease for the property in 2002. At other developments, including the Americana at Brand in Glendale, Caruso has relied on buying up adjacent land for expansion. In 2011, the company bought and demolished a hotel and replaced it with a 130,000-square-foot Nordstrom store.

Sokoloff said Hackman was still proceeding with the project, despite Caruso’s criticism and the alliance.

The project is slowly moving forward with regulatory approvals. Earlier this week, the Mid City West Neighborhood Council’s planning committee voted to support the project in a 3-1 decision. At the meeting, 41 people spoke in support of the project and nine objected to the plans.

Under the proposal, Hackman is planning to build up to 1.87 million square feet of new soundstages, office and support space. About 20,000 of that would be retail. At most, the office buildings will stand at 15 stories, though specific details are yet to be disclosed. The Beverly Fairfax Community Alliance incorrectly touted the project would feature 20-story office towers.

Construction on the project could begin as early as next year.

A previous version of this story incorrectly stated Hackman Capital Partners bought the Television City site for $1.8 billion. The firm acquired it for $750 million. This story has been updated to reflect comments from the Beverly Fairfax Community Alliance. 

Recommended For You