City’s Garage Planned For Annenberg Is A Go
While still only in design stages, the three-level parking garage at 455 Crescent slated for use by the highly anticipated Wallis Annenberg Cultural Center almost lost more than 100 parking spaces in an attempt by City staff to save money. However, the City Council put a stop to the proposed reduction at Tuesday’s study session after an outcry from merchants on Canon Drive.
The recommendation called for the Council to authorize spending $118,000 for a design revision of the garage eliminating one level of the three-level garage, which would reduce the spaces from 470 to 311. The new design would cut the total construction cost of the garage from $48 million to $38 million and reduce the annual debt service by about $800,000.
The garage will be funded by a variety of sources: $13 million from the City’s Capital Improvement Project account, $5 million from the Annenberg Cultural Center for their 100 spaces in the garage, $1.2 million in additional Center funding pursuant to a lease provision that requires the Annenberg to fully fund the aemnities beyond the City’s design scope and the balance from bonds issued by the Parking Authority.
The revenues generated by the garage operations are not adequate to cover the debt service.
However, Annenberg representations expressed grave concerns over staff’s recommendations for the reduced garage, believing it offered no room for errors and may result in a detrimental impact to the Annenberg’s operations and future success.
The proposal also garnered opposition from merchants in the nearby Canon Drive district, who state the garage is needed in the business triangle.
Gabby Alexander of the newly-formed Canon Drive Association represented the board which includes Paula Kent Meehan of Kenquest, Arnold Rosenstein of New Pacific Realty, Peter Garland of Porta Via and Clif Smith of The Courier to name a few.
Alexander argued there is much needed parking on Canon Drive, and this garage would alleviate some of that as it is located perfectly at the point of the business triangle. She pointed out that often the garage on the north end of Canon is usually backed up, causing traffic to spill onto the streets. As the street grows so does valet parking, which eliminates street parking. Lastly, the 100 or so monthly parkers at the Canon garage will be moved to the Crescent garage when it opens, so that results in more loss of parking.
“I have been a merchant on Canon Drive for 15 years,” said Garland. “Looking back, the street has exploded to arguably one of the busiest in Beverly Hills from morning till evening. It will only be getter better. It is a crucial time to continue this path and build the parking structure with three stories.
“Parking is essential to the businesses on Canon Drive.”
Noah Furie, planning commissioner, reminded the Council that the planning commission had recommended the three-level garage. If that wasn’t possible, at least building two-levels with additional height to include lifts for additional parking. The staff’s new directions was not consistent with their recommendations, he said.
The majority of the council agreed. Dr. William Brien, Jimmy Delshad and Mayor Nancy Krasne voted against moving forward with drawing the new specs.
Brien pointed out a number of aspects including how moving the monthly parking at North Canon to Crescent would affect the lot; the 311 spots as proposed are not only the garage spots, but also includes street parking in the nearby areas. He added that the City should consider the future needs of Canon Drive; now is the time to build because construction costs are at an all time low in light of the economy.
John Mirisch, who did not agree with Brien, stated digging underground is not the best bang for the buck.
He suggested acquiring property in Beverly Hills and using it to build garages not just in the triangle but throughout the City, stating the entire Southeast has been totally neglected when it comes to parking.
Councilman Barry Brucker suggested completing the design of the three-level garage, spending the $118,000 for the design of the two-level garage and bidding both to see which comes in at a more competitive price. He stated in the meantime the Council could explore options to create money off of its in-lieu program for businesses outside of retail.
The project’s architect indicated that the design revision would delay the project start by approximately six weeks, however the delay would not affect the overall schedule of the Annenberg project.
Nonetheless, Mayor Nancy Krasne who agreed with Brien and Delshad to close the discussion and move forward with the two-level garage shut down his suggestion.
“If we are going to do this, let’s do it right,” she said.