Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Valley/Laurel Plaza Plans Slammed by Local NIMBYs

At the risk of sounding like the old, dead Republican Mayor (something I really try not to do here as I blog out of that character) I have to say though I understand some of the local concerns and fears about plans to remake Valley and Laurel Plazas north west of Downtown NoHo, I don't agree with them.

JH Snyder - who is revered as a near god here in the District for bringing us HOWS and NoHo Commons - wants to work his magic on the two legendary shopping centers I knew and loved as a child of North Hollywood (yes some of us are still here).

Who among us can forget the party store at Valley Plaza, the movie theatre on Bellingham (where I first saw Star Wars) and of course hanging at Laurel Plaza at the Ice Capades Chalet and seeing the new puppies, kittens or snakes at Safari Pets home of Safari Arnie from the Elementary News.

When I was a wee one my mom and grandmother would attend fashion shows at the tea room at May Co. My mother told me all the ladies at Laurel Plaza would say "What a beautiful baby."

Time, economic forces and the 1994 Northridge Earthquake brought an end to all of that. Valley Plaza crept into oblivion and all that could be saved after the quake of Laurel Plaza was the then May Company later Robinsons-May now Macy's. The quake and the recession put an end to one plan to restore Laurel Plaza back in the 90s.

Snyder's plan in a nutshell is to basically bulldoze all of Valley Plaza and replace it with an upscale outdoor mall similar to The Grove or Snyder's BellaTerra (pictured) in Huntington Beach, anchored by a new Macy's. Once that's complete, Macy's would vacate the current location which we could converted to condos while the surrounding massive parking lot would be populated by more condos, apartments and townhomes - as well as a new city park.

Besides the usual nannypoo NIMBY nonsense tied to this project (such as big-box-a-phobia because God forbid an upscale version of Costco is interested in a spot) is concern that a sliver of Valley Plaza Park connected to the eastern berm of the 17o freeway would be vacated by the new Valley Plaza and replaced with a brand new, state of the art neighborhood park at Laurel Plaza. If you haven't seen the parkland to be replaced, don't bother. Its really nothing more than grass and some trees choked between parking lot and the freeway. Its not where junior goes to play ball but rather where meth addicts hang out to score their next fix.

Though some of the surrounding neighbors bring up an almost irrational, hateful opposition to the project overall there is no doubt it is something that would benefit all of us in the community and the region was well. I personally am tired of having to drive to places like West Hollywood or Santa Clarita or Pasadena or anywhere else I have visited in this state to see something like this. Its high time North Hollywood has the kind of upscale retail and entertainment options every other community has.

Snyder has a great track record already in North Hollywood. I trust him to create something wonderful on the other end of town.

23 comments:

Anonymous said...

"I personally am tired of having to drive to places like West Hollywood or Santa Clarita or Pasadena or anywhere else I have visited in this state to see something like this. Its high time North Hollywood has the kind of upscale retail and entertainment options every other community has."

You sound more and more like the people of Sunland-Tujunga!

Anonymous said...

If you want a selfish reason, property values would go up. The area is just dead and depressing now.
Look what happened to Pasadena after old town got gussified. And for all the bitching of neighbors around the Grove, that area used to be thought of as a down-in-the dumps area of old Jewish people, an architectural and social wasteland. Now the surrounding area is kind of hip.

Anonymous said...

Whaaat???? You're giving Sunland-Tujunga heck for not wanting an industrial warehouse store and you want "upscale retail and entertainment in Noho? Please. Oh and you're tired of driving to other cities for this upscale experience but it's ok for Sunland-Tujunga to be relegated to a lifetime of driving 15-20 miles away for your most basic of general merchandise? Based upon the map of their current locations, looks like you might get one of those upscale Home Depots...

Anonymous said...

I hope they make it really nice and not McNice. But either would be better than the current wasteland over there.

Anonymous said...

As long as there is plenty of parking it should be a success. From what I hear, the Orange Line Metro could be doing better if there were only more parking spaces avail for people to use before they hop on the line.

Ron Bitzer ronaldbitzer49@msn.com said...

Mr. Higby may want to reflect on children living within 500-1500 meters of the "sliver" of Valley Plaza Park sought by developer Jerry Snyder --- and not just his childhood. USC scientists published an 8-year study in the February 17, 2007 issue of The Lancet entitled, "Effect of Exposure to Traffic on Lung Development from 10 to 18 Years of Age: a Cohort Study." The authors say, "We have shown the residential distance from a freeway is associated with significant deficits in 8-year respiratory growth, which results in important deficits in lung function at age 18." The greenbelt along the Hollywood freeway serves as some mitigation for this pollution --- surely to increase following construction of 850,000 square feet of commercial space at Valley Plaza. How about the wildlife corridor AND YEAR-ROUND FLOW OF WATER through this "sliver" --- the City of LA reports in Exhibit C-6 of its CEQA document that a "Significant Ecological Area" is the "Tujunga Wash downstream from the Hansen Dam." "...it is an area of ponded water serving as an important nesting, feeding and resting ground for many migrating, resident (request photos of the resident birds) and wintering species."
But why should we be concerned about wildlife when we are throwing our children to the air pollution?
And does anyone want to discuss long-standing provisions of the City Charter protecting dedicated parkland and the provisions for replacement park land? Surely not Mr. Snyder, who employs the replacement park as partial satisfaction of open space requirements for this condo development. Maybe the draft EIR will.

Ron Bitzer ronaldbitzer49@msn.com said...

Daily News Editorial August 28, 2007 ... Density Madness ... "All this speeding toward densifying LA with little preparation and mitigation should have the city residents worried sick. This is the growth at any price thinking that got LA into trouble in the first place --- sprawl without transportation solutions, neighborhoods devoid of open space, profits ahead of people ... ... putting a general moratorium on new development -- any development --- until the city comes up with a comprehensive plan ..."

Mayor Sam said...

Who's the asshole who wrote this story?

Mayor Sam said...

There is a Home Depot about a mile away.

Mayor Sam said...

Crap! I have to enter word verification at your blog Higby? THANKS for nothing!

Mayor Sam said...

The difference between Sunland Tujunga and NoHo is that the retail stores are wetting their pants to get into NoHo where they have made no effort to show up to ST. And probably ST is far more against Home Depot than the general population in NoHo is against a new mall. the only opposition is coming from some of the neighbors around it. Totally different.

Mayor Sam said...

Mr Bitter, Mr. Higby is right in that crack addled homeless park is not fit for children - and the replacement park at Laurel Plaza would be a MAJOR upgrade. And you make the point in that the park is about as close to the freeway as any park in LA.

Oh and if the Daily News thinks we need an all out moratorium on development they're on crack too. Who the hell is going to read their newspapers?

Seriously though this type of development totally fights sprawl in that more people will be able to live close to jobs and shopping. Right now the people who live in the area have to drive to Van Nuys or Burbank or Studio City or Sherman Oaks to shop at decent stores and not the crap that is there now. If you put in Macy's, Trader Joe's, Costco, etc. there those people can walk or at least not drive as far. Just ask the folks in NoHo; HOWS is doing magic here.

Mayor Sam said...

By the way, this blog really sucks. Who is the Blogger here?

Mayor Sam said...

www.mayorsam.blogspot.com

ronaldbitzer49@msn.com said...

Crack sales in Valley Plaza Park? Not even city bureaucrats are employing that argument anymore for the demolition of Valley Plaza Park's 5.48 acres --- Check out 2 years of recent arrest reports for the Park I have secured for my research on this deal ... Daily News front page story on 9/5: "Asthma: Many absences are blamed on disease .. Health officials know that LA's polluted skies, moldy apartments, proximity of residential areas to freeways ... all contribute to the high number of asthma cases."

Anonymous said...

My home is walking distance to the the Valley Plaza Mall, I would love the option to walking to a shopping center instead of driving all the way to Burbank or Sherman Oaks. Traffic will not be influenced by the Mall. Traffic is already congested. The abandoned buildings need to be demolished so that affluent people are attracted to this area instead of thugs. Also, there is a brand new middle school opening less than 1000 feet from the VIP Strip CLUB. I thought that was against zoning laws.

Anonymous said...

It is indeed against zoning laws to have a strip club so close to the middle school. I live in that small street behind the middle school where the houses are. I can honestly say I'm scared witless at the new proposed amendment to the redevelopment project. According to the new map, they want eminent domain over my home, which I find difficult to grasp since it would be conflicting with the property of the school. I'm all for this project, but extending it all the way to Vanowen is just nuts.

adam said...

a new shopping center wouldnt be the end of the world and would be great for all the obvious reasons, but does it have to look like the grove? or the commons? isnt the faux italian stuff already old.. ? cant we maybe incoporate the NOHO / Valley Plaza /Laurel Plaza look of old.. midcentury cool - into something new? and keep everyone happy?

James-Michael said...

Last I heard, this project is on hold due to the economy and the need to secure financing and it's really a shame. This depressed area has so much potential and is in need of a major overhaul.

Regarding the Mediterranean look, I don't think it's getting old. The look is classy and timeless. As soon as we try to make everyone happy, something ugly like the NoHo Gateway sign gets erected.

Anonymous said...

Anyone against a new mall is just a fucking retard we need a new mall to bring north hollywood alive and away from the sterotypical gangs,drugs,and voilence.

Anonymous said...

Reading some of these comments causes me to laugh out loud. Have to drive all the way to Burbank or Sherman Oaks? Either one is only 3 miles away! What a terrible inconvenience! Then there's the remark about property prices going up with an upscale shopping center. Well, maybe back in '07 but definitely not today.

And upscale shopping in NoHo? Wake up! NoHo is a bedroom community of blue collar workers. How many residents of NoHo have the kind of disposable income needed to support restaurant and store purchases with high end prices? And do it year round so that it doesn't become another area of blight such as what we have now?

What we need is a park and family entertainment. Some place where the majority of NoHo residents can afford to take their families for an hour or a few hours of fun and recreation. We need businesses that offer a LIVING WAGE to our residents, not minimum wage. And businesses that are going to be around two years from now.

We need to serve our community, not the greed of a developer who cannot finish what he's started. We don't need more condos or apartments! Banks are not making condo loans anymore. And apartments? JH Snyder has priced his so out of line with our community that he has very high vacancy rates.

Another dose of reality ... Macy's has a huge interest payment coming up that they can't pay. And $2 BILLION dollars in mature debt due in a few years. Do you really expect them to be around by the end of this year?

Stop dreaming your pie-in-the-sky visions of NoHo going upscale. We're a bedroom community and have been for over 60 years! I've grown up here. I'm very proud of being a NoHo resident. And would like to see something completely different than what Sherman Oaks or Burbank has.

If we try to imitate them, that's all we'll ever be -- an imitation. Let's be original and offer our community something the other areas don't offer theirs. And if you're inclined to believe that "If you build it, they will come.", pull your head out of the sand. Some may come to try high end shopping and dining here. But then they'll go back to their usual haunts in Burbank or S.O.

NoHo cannot support high end centers. But we certainly can get behind, and fully support, arts, recreation, dining and entertainment that is priced right for the middle class families of our community.

Anonymous said...

Maybe this will cause the poor community that causes a disaster to this area to move out. I'm tired of freaking looking at parks and other recreational centers packed with Mexicans that can't speak English and have a habit of causing trouble just because they think there cool or something. Last time I checked North Hollywood was part of the USA not Mexico. The poor community needs to either adopt to the US or just leave.

Anonymous said...

The mayor is was talking on the news about a lack of sales tax revenue. I wonder why, I drive to Burbank everytime I need something. Myself and thousands of others would make Valley Plaza a success. There are direct access freeway ramps to also get revenue from 100,000 cars a day that travel past it. I would gladly lease some property adjacent to the 170 for a digital jumbotron advertising the new shopping center. People from the Santa Clarita and Antelope Valleys would also stop there to shop before they battle the traffic up ahead. Mayor and City Council, get rid of the red tape and start building! Look at the Glendale and Burbank shopping centers on the weekend if you don't beleive me.