LA City Council votes to OK Midwood apartments at Sportsmen’s Lodge

Studio City landmark site could become 520 homes after surviving multiple appeals

LA City Council to Vote on Sportsmen's Lodge Redevelopment
Midwood's John Usdan and a rendering of The Residences at Sportsmen's Lodge in 12825 Ventura Boulevard (A.Y. Strauss, Rendering via Marmol Radziner)

UDPATED APRIL 4 at 9:30 a.m.:

Midwood Investment & Development is ready to bulldoze the historic Sportsmen’s Lodge in Studio City and replace it with 520 apartments.

The Los Angeles City Council voted 13-1 on April 3 to approve the New York-based investor’s plan to tear down the Mid-century Modern hotel and build a 97-foot-tall apartment complex at 12825 Ventura Boulevard, the Los Angeles Times reported.

The controversial project had run out of appeals, and was favored by housing proponents.

The 190-room hotel, which opened in 1962, was once frequented by such celebrities as John Wayne, Bette Davis and Humphrey Bogart, with visiting bands such as Willie Nelson, the Beach Boys and Lynyrd Skynyrd. In 2014, the hotel received an $8 million facelift.

Then the retro-cool hotel, popular with visitors to Universal Studios Hollywood, closed during the pandemic. The once chic lodge was filled with homeless residents through the state’s Project Roomkey program.

Now, the only active part of the nearly 9-acre property is the Shops at Sportsmen’s Lodge, which opened in 2021 with such stores as Erewhon and Allbirds. The shops replaced an events center, restaurant, bar and banquet hall, surrounded by gardens and century-old fish ponds.

With the City Council vote, the plan is replace the historic hotel with The Residences at Sportsmen’s Lodge, featuring luxe apartments designed by Marmol Radziner, in collaboration with OLIN.

Plans for the seven-story complex include 520 apartments, 78 of which would be set aside as affordable for low-income households. 

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The project would include 46,000 square feet of ground-floor shops and restaurants, plus a bike path along the Los Angeles River.

Erewhon, the Studio City Residents Association and Unite Here Local 11, which represents hotel workers, filed appeals with the City Council’s Planning and Land Use Management Committee to stop the project, approved by the city’s Planning Commission in July.

In 1964, the lodge became the first hotel to unionize in the San Fernando Valley and was one of the first union hotels in Los Angeles. The organizing drive was led by Bill Robertson, a leader in L.A.’s labor movement.

“We continue to believe that … the historic hotel is an important remaining link to that history, and therefore should be preserved,” Unite Here Local 11 Co-President Kurt Petersen said in a statement.

Councilmember Hugo Soto-Martinez, a former organizer for Unite Here 11, was the only “nay” vote on the council. 

This month, the PLUM committee denied the appeals, sending the proposal to the full City Council for a vote.

“This will bring one of the most important and catalytic developments to this part of the San Fernando Valley,” Dave Rand, a lawyer representing Midwood, said at the meeting. “For years, Ventura Boulevard has been a largely ignored, yet hugely important corridor in the Valley.

“With this city’s unbelievably ambitious housing goals and obligations, the corner of Coldwater and Ventura Boulevard at this site is the perfect location to bring housing, mixed use and river-appropriate fronted development.”

Update: Previous story was written before the L.A. City Council vote; changes reflect the approval decision by the council.

— Dana Bartholomew

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