IMT Capital, the new owners of the iconic Sunkist Building are proposing a Massive Development and Building project. They are requesting numerous significant variances to current zoning codes affecting the property. The large numbers involved in this project are sure to change the character of the surrounding neighborhood.
February 2021. So the community has been reactivated now that IMT has cut down all the trees. This very visual action has pushed many people to ask questions about what is going on at the Sunkist Building. For many that question is a forgone conclusion. Over 5 years ago I received the first notice of intended development at this iconic property. I have lived for 20+ years about 200 yards away from the property so any development was sure to affect me and my family. We have so enjoyed having this virtual park so close and viewed it as a beautiful urban forest open space. So I set about informing myself and waging the fight against the development. I built this blogsite, hand delivered thousands of flyers, attended meetings and started to educate myself on the labyrinth of LA developments.
I learned that the owners of the property were entitled to make major changes. Their property was greatly underutilized for the zoning and space they had. I set about to working to improve the project and make an asset to the community and neighbors. I knew that any resolution would not be perfect but I also knew we could do better than the abomination that was originally proposed.
Somewhere in the battle I got hooked up with SOHA and became the CoChair of the Sunkist Building Expansion committee. This gave me a bigger seat at the table.
Initially IMT approached the approval process as a battle where they just wanted to bully neighbors into loving their development. This lasted for the first 1 or so. At some point they took a very sharp turn and started to collaborate on putting together a good project. SONC also was working to address the development. In a great show of teamwork intended to help the community SOHA and SONC joined forces. We put together lists of community concerns, lists of changes we wanted made. At one point a completely different site plan was developed and proposed by the committees. IMT considered these changes and commendably made extensive changes basically starting over on the design.
For those who are just catching up on the project now you must realize how different the final project is from the original concept. -Density of the project was reduced by about 20%, both in retail space and number of units. -the design was changed from a cold urban misfit to a design that will fit in nicely with our residential neighborhoods surrounding it. -The site plan was drastically changed so as to retain a grade level parking lot on Hazeltine which will have trees and will afford a view of the original building much as was originally intended instead of the 4+ story parking garage they proposed. -traffic patterns on site were drastically improved to help the flow on and off the property to help mitigate traffic impacts. -The front of the building on Riverside was set back an additional 4-10 feet further than originally planned. – Bigger and more trees were included in the improved plan. –the buildings were completed reoriented on the site in order to decrease the massive appearance of the buildings on Riverside drive. And so many more changes.
There has been much upset over the removal of all the trees. I too am very sad to see a single tree removed. But this is an example of how looking deep into the plan uncovers a different picture. Having lived here for so long I have watched the trees go thru their life cycle. Careful scrutiny as well as the expert opinions of Arborists revealed that the vast majority of the trees were not healthy and would be dying soon of their own accord. Bark beatles, drought, and other urban environmental conditions had been hard on these trees. We decided that retaining the trees was not a battle worth waging. Instead we worked to increase and improve the landscape and reforestation of the finished site.
I have 1000’s of pages of documentation and emails regarding this project. Our committee learned so much more about the planning process than we ever thought we wanted to know.
But I can honestly say I think we accomplished what we set out to do. The project is the best we could hope for. IMT ended up being a gracious partner in answering the concerns of the neighbors in the best way they could. Councilmember RYU and his staff were great in supporting the community. Our leverage over IMT and the development was limited so many of the changes were the result of the councilmember convincing IMT that they needed to cooperate in order to have a happy community and a good project.
This I believe was an example of the City of LA Planning process working. It ended up being a partnership between the owner of the Property, IMT, then Councilmember Ryus office, Sherman Oaks Neighborhood Council and Sherman Oaks Homeowners Association as well as the community at large. The neighbors were heard thru numerous meetings, thru hearings at the city, thru email campaigns and many other modes. IMT was able to prove their case and make changes that worked for their project. The Council office worked to weigh all sides and be sure that good faith was being exercised by all.
I am proud to have been a part of this effort. I was privileged to work with Nancy Sagoian as co chair, Wendy Brogin and Marshall Long on the SOHA Sunkist Committee. While we did not always agree it was a very productive and enjoyable committee to work on.
Now it is up to us to hold IMT to their promises and the plans that were approved. We need to be sure that they continue to be a good neighbor during construction as well as once the buildings are completed.
IMT Sherman Oaks Project – Traffic Study Update
Our Sunkist Project committee, along with involved neighbors, continues to meet with IMT (the Sunkist project’s new owner/developers) IMT Sherman Oaks Project as well as with our Councilmember Ryu’s Planning staff. It appears some progress is being made at revising the design to be more compatible with our neighborhood—but we have a ways to go! IMT has listened to our concerns and is considering beneficial revisions.
Our goal is to sufficiently mitigate the significant negative impacts this huge development will bring—so that we end up with a development that BENEFITS our community and our quality of life here in Sherman Oaks, rather than detracts from it!
Soon, we will be meeting with IMT’s Traffic Study creators. We have significant concerns about the methods used to create the study, and we’re concerned the study’s conclusions are flawed and thereby underestimate the actual traffic impacts the project will bring. IMT has been conducting their own community outreach and are representing to neighbors that our community should have no concerns about this project. However, we have studied the proposed project’s plans in depth and we feel differently! Through meetings with our neighbors, we know that our concerns are also of concern to a large majority of Councilmember Ryu’s Sherman Oaks constituents, especially in areas closer to the Sunkist site. However, without the benefit of proper studies conducted (and corresponding mitigation measures employed), a development this massive will affect nearly all of Sherman Oaks. Continue reading
The IMT Project Sherman Oaks (formerly known as Sunkist) continues to meet with representatives of IMT as well as Councilman Ryus’ representatives to work towards solutions that will make this an asset to our community. We met recently with the Architects to speak about our concerns regarding the Mass of the buildings and measures that could be taken to make it look more like the surrounding areas and fit in with the neighborhood.
IMT was receptive to ideas presented increasing open space that would be visible and accessible to the public as well as ideas to move the building back away from the street to create a street life to bring life to the area. Ideas were discussed with the architect to improve traffic flow around the property and ingress and egress to the complex.
We have an upcoming meeting with the traffic engineers but some issues were covered in this meeting regarding parking on the property as well as parking in adjacent neighborhoods.
Mitigations can taken to lessen the impact of the project during construction as well as after construction is completed. The traffic study that was done for the DEIR – IMT Sherman Oaks Project is erroneous and insufficient to illustrate and investigate proper mitigations of Traffic Impacts.
Increased Traffic and parking problems are the number 1 concern of the Sherman Oaks community at large. The already failing traffic patterns in the area will not be helped by the additional 4,000 car trips per day generated by this project. The traffic study was done at times that the traffic related to the Sherman Oaks Fashion Square was at its lowest predictable time, the time of day, the days of the week and the time of the month were all such that it generated very low impacts on the surrounding streets of the mall as well as the subject property.
SOHA and other neighbors are insistent that IMT Project Sherman Oaks modify the DEIR with an amended traffic study and proper mitigations.
-So far, IMT seems very resistant to the idea of investigating what can be done to make the project have less negative impact on the community. Without this the already failing traffic patterns will become completely unbearable and unfixable forever. This is our chance to impact our quality of life.
We will continue to work towards workable permanent solutions to make this project an asset to our community.
The owner of the IMT Sherman Oaks Project sells another local property.
IMT sold 2 of it’s projects in the community to out of state investors. This puts into serious question the sincerity of the company to be a good neighbor. In their slick promotional video IMT talks about wanting to make “their” community a better place. But by these actions it seems that their real end game is merely to develop as much as they can and profit as much as they can at any cost to the neighbors. The unique Brutalist Architecture of the Sunkist Building is going to be completely obscured by the monolithic mass density of the proposed building which sits mere feet from the street.
Last week, SOHA met with two principle owners of IMT to discuss the community’s concerns with IMT’s current proposal for the Sunkist ICON project or as their website calls it, IMT Sherman Oaks Project, which would require numerous zone changes and amendments to the city general plan. Due to the exemptions IMT is seeking, Sherman Oaks, through SOHA and our representative David Ryu, has input into what is actually developed. The main concerns are a significant increase in Traffic, dysfunctional Parking, vastly out- of-character Density, Poor Aesthetics and a huge negative impact on our infrastructure ie: utilities, police, fire, roads etc. While IMT’s reps noted the current plan does incorporate SOME mitigations to our community concerns (and we acknowledged these changes are appreciated); however, there still remain great concerns that as currently designed, this project will NOT be a positive asset to our neighborhood. Further meetings with IMT’s architects and those who will be planning traffic mitigations will be held to determine what can be done. In addition, we stated that the current Draft EIR insufficiently addresses many of the true environmental concerns, in particular the massive increase in traffic that will undoubtedly occur . We are hopeful that IMT will make the IMT Sherman Oaks Project a good neighbor and address these concerns in good faith, taking action to facilitate an acceptable solution in building a development that benefits, not harms, Sherman Oaks.
WEDNESDAY, NOVEMBER 16, 2016
NOTRE DAME HIGH SCHOOL
13645 Riverside Drive, Sherman Oaks, CA 91423
6:15 For social hour
7:00 for meeting
Councilmember David Ryu will be featured at the November Sherman Oaks Homeowners Association (SOHA) meeting. He will be addressing development projects in the area and the politics of Spot Zone Changes for Developers.
This may be our best chance to let the Councilman know our objections to the Sunkist Icon Project. Councilman Ryu campaigned on promises to control these kinds of mega developments.
Come to Show your support; submit question/comment cards (we can help), wear protest stickers, and let our presence and disapproval of the project be known.
Developers have been handed numerous setbacks recently giving us realistic hope that the community has input into what can be done in our Neighborhood. Grasp this opportunity to be involved. United we can Succeed!!
IMT Project Sherman Oaks Developer Gives huge Lobby Money
The DEIR in the form presented by the city and the developer is many cut up sections which make if very difficult to review. The link below has the whole document in one file. It is a large document but if you are trying to review it carefully it may make it much easier. Be cautioned…this does not include the Appendix’s.