Carmel Partners quashes four appeals against LA apartment tower

Planning Commission backs 24-story highrise in Carthay that would include 290 units

Carmel Partners Quashes Appeals Against LA Apartment Tower
Carmel Partners' Ron Zeff; 1050 South La Cienega Boulevard (Getty, Solomon Cordwell Buenz, Carmel Partners)

Carmel Partners has beat back four appeals trying to block a proposed 24-story apartment tower in L.A.’s Carthay neighborhood.

The San Francisco-based developer was backed by the city’s Planning Commission, which voted to uphold approvals for the 290-unit highrise at 1050 South La Cienega Boulevard, Urbanize Los Angeles reported. It would replace a vacant lot just south of Beverly Hills.

CREED LA, a coalition of labor unions, Friends of South Carthay and residents Andrew Marton and Elana Shrira, filed complaints arguing the commission’s approvals should be overturned. The project, approved in September, was appealed by residents who alleged insufficient environmental review.

They also said the incentives granted to the project were not needed to accommodate more affordable housing.

Plans call for 290 apartments above 4,100 square feet of ground-floor shops. A podium and underground parking garage would serve 412 cars.

Carmel Partners had sought Transit Oriented Community incentives to build a larger building than zoning rules allow in exchange for 29 affordable apartments for extremely low-income households.

The project, designed by Chicago-based Solomon Cordwell Buenz and initially planned at 28 stories, would soar 271 feet, the tallest building in the area. The glass-covered building would include rows of jutting balconies, with a landscaped rooftop deck, according to renderings.

The project is the latest in a string of high-rise developments in Los Angeles from Carmel Partners, following a 35-story highrise now taking shape in the Arts District and similar towers in West Adams and Downtown, according to Urbanize. Carmel also plans to build three big residential projects in Sawtelle and new apartments in Long Beach.

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The firm, led by Ron Zeff, is tied to a wide-ranging public corruption scandal centered on former Los Angeles City Councilman José Huizar, who faces 13 years in federal prison after admitting to a pay-to-play scheme for developers in exchange for $1.5 million in bribes. He is scheduled for sentencing on Jan. 26.

Huizar pleaded guilty to charges that involved accepting political contributions from Carmel Partners for his wife’s short-lived City Council run during the approval process for its 35-story, 475-unit tower at 520 Mateo Street, in the Arts District.

Federal prosecutors say the developer also paid for opposition research on Huizar’s former aides who had filed sexual harassment complaints against the councilman. In return, Huizar allegedly pushed to reduce the amount of affordable housing required for the Arts District tower, saving the developer $14 million.

Carmel Partners agreed to pay a $1.2 million fine to avoid prosecution in connection with the City Hall corruption case, admitting no wrongdoing in the settlement.

— Dana Bartholomew

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Ron Zeff's Carmel Partners has agreed to pay a $1 million fine in connection with the Jose Huizar scandal. Zeff split image at far left and right; Huizar is in middle. (Multi Family Forum, Jose Huziar, SCB)
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