In an important step forward for a major redevelopment project in Warner Center, city planning officials have approved a project that would bring 1,400 new rental units, stores and offices, acres of public open space, and a 7,500-seat entertainment venue to the site of the Westfield Promenade shopping mall.
The project, called the Promenade 2035, has captured the attention of the west San Fernando Valley, drawing both enthusiastic support and opposition.
Supporters say the project will revitalize the declining mall, bringing housing, jobs, and new stores to the 34-acre site, creating a community where there is now just parking and a small collection of shops.
But critics have pushed back against the entertainment venue, initially proposed with up to 15,000 seats, which they worried would bring traffic, unsavory attendees, and noise. This element of the development concerned Los Angeles City Councilmember Bob Blumenfield, who said at a May public hearing for the project that the initial uncertainty about the size and programming for the venue were something he planned to discuss with Westfield.
There were also concerns about the pricing of the 1,400 housing units—all of which were planned as market-rate.
The Promenade 2035 is the largest spurred by the Warner Center 2035 plan—a set of planning guidelines implemented in late 2013 with the goal of remaking this portion of the Valley as an urban, live and work community with walkable and transit-friendly neighborhoods. The plan does not, however, include a requirement for affordable housing in its residential projects, though that might change.
In a statement to Curbed, Unibail-Rodamco-Westfield executive vice president Larry Green says that the company is “initially pleased” that the city has “accepted the fundamental elements of the plan.”
“We look forward to a continuing conversation about the importance of having a facility that compares in seating capacity and quality as those serving other parts of greater Los Angeles,” Green says. “As well as one that will act as a catalyst for further economic growth in the Warner Center’s Downtown District.”
Blumenfield says he’s also looking forward to continuing to work on the plans for the venue, which has “always been [his] biggest concern, specifically how it would impact the surrounding community.”
Because the operator and its specific uses are still unknown, “we must respect the conservative approach taken by the Planning Department and continue to scrutinize the plans before us,” the councilmember said in a statement.
The city’s approval of the plans can be appealed until August 1. Any appeals will go before the city planning commission.