LA developer threatened to use assault weapon over project dispute: report

Developer apologizes for remarks made in meeting with City Council prez; LAPD is investigating

3700 Wilshire Boulevard and Dr. David Lee
3700 Wilshire Boulevard and Dr. David Lee

Jamison Services’ founder Dr. David Lee allegedly threatened to use an AR-15 assault weapon to keep protestors off the site of his latest Koreatown project, according to a new report in CityWatch.

The LAPD is now investigating the incident, which took place late last month. In a statement to The Real Deal Tuesday, Lee said the following: “For 30 years in the Korean community in Los Angeles, I have prided myself on my ability to enjoy a congenial relationship with everyone. Unfortunately, last week comments by me were misunderstood by valued friends and to those individuals I sincerely apologize.”

On Feb. 23, Lee, along with Jamison president Garrett Lee and attorney Allen Park, met with City Council President Herb Wesson and key aides at Wesson’s district office. Also in attendance were Anne Kim and Annette Van Duren from Save Liberty Park, a community advocacy group that has campaigned against the project, and Marcello Vavala from the Los Angeles Conservancy.

The group discussed Jamison’s site at 3700 Wilshire Boulevard, where the developer wants to build a 36-story mixed-use tower with over 500 rental units. Save Liberty Park has been pushing the city to designate Liberty Park, a park fronting Wilshire Boulevard, as a Historic-Cultural Monument. If it receives that status, Jamison would be prevented from demolishing the park pending a review by the Cultural Heritage Commission.

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During the meeting, Lee allegedly told the Save Liberty Park members that if the group didn’t let him build, he would use his AR-15 rifle to shoot people who step on his land. That’s according to a recap of the meeting Van Duren provided to CityWatch, a community-focused website and newsletter based in L.A. Lee’s alleged comments came just days after the school massacre in Parkland, Florida, where a 19-year-old male killed 17 people, the majority of them teenage students, with an AR-15 style semi-automatic rifle.

The LAPD was asked to look into the matter on Feb. 27, sources confirmed. Representatives for the police department didn’t respond to TRD’s requests for comment.

If the City Council’s Planning and Land Use Management (PLUM) committee votes to grant the HCM designation for Liberty Park, the matter will proceed to a full Council vote. Sources said PLUM did vote for the HCM designation Tuesday, but this could not be confirmed by press time.

Jamison is one of Koreatown’s biggest landlords, where it has pioneered adaptive reuse, converting several commercial buildings into multifamily properties. Citywide, its portfolio spans about 18 million square feet, and is valued at about $5 billion, according to Real Capital Analytics.