As Brentwood gears up for the arrival of Metro’s Expo Line, residents remain split on the impending Martin Expo Town Center, slated for 12101 West Olympic Blvd., despite a recent 50-percent reduction in the Center’s original vision.
The project, near the light-rail, is being developed by the family behind the Martin Automotive Group, and would replace the 40-year-old Cadillac and GMC dealership with an office, residential, and retail transit-oriented development.
Once the Expo Line opens May 20, Brentwood plans to assess traffic and pedestrian flow before voicing support or opposition toward the project. Until then, members of the Brentwood Community Council have several suggestions on how to gain the neighborhood group’s approval for the Martin project.
At the northern edge of the property, current plans are to build 516 apartments or for-sale condos in a seven-story building, in addition to retail and restaurants on its ground floor, according to the final environmental impact report (FEIR) published by the Los Angeles Department of City Planning.
“The BCC is supportive of the idea of having housing in this location,” BCC Transportation Chair Lauren Cole said at the Martin Cadillac Public Hearing March 2. “However, the BCC is very opposed to adding another 200,000-square-feet of commercial office space” in an area with an abundance of office space like the Bundy Corridor and Santa Monica.
The southern portion of the property would feature a 10-story, 160-foot building with 191,500 square feet of creative office space on upper levels and 26,500 square feet of office and retail space on the ground floor, according to the FEIR.
“At this location, the office space should be replaced by more housing. We don’t need all these workers coming into the location,” Cole said, adding that the idea of creative office space implies even more workers in a single workplace.
At the same public hearing, Martin project manager Phil Simmons said people who work in the area would be given preference on apartment rentals, and several people who described themselves as young professionals working in close proximity to Martin Cadillac spoke in favor of the live-work-play concept.
Cole wasn’t convinced that the throngs of workers would be offset by 500 proposed apartments.
Another point of contention is the 45,000-square-foot grocery store outlined in the FEIR.
Cole counted 10 supermarkets within a mile and a half of the Martin project and said that the BCC is opposed to adding another supermarket to the area.
Brentwood supports “a very small supermarket” to accommodate Expo riders and workers, “but what we object to is the idea that the market be so big that it’s another destination and would bring in more traffic to the area,” Cole said.
The BCC also strongly encouraged parking for Expo riders.
Martin Expo Town Center is set to provide substantial parking accommodations in a three-level underground garage spanning across the property, according to the FEIR. The number of vehicle stalls would vary between 1,451 and 1,876, depending on whether the project’s residential component is developed as rental apartments of for-sale units.
“While it would be great that everybody could take public transportation to get to the Expo Line, the reality is that a lot of our residents in Brentwood live up in the canyons,” Cole said. “So we need parking at the Expo station, and we’d like the project to provide it.”
The Martin project is projected to produce 7,151 net daily vehicle trips, according to the Brentwood Homeowners Association. The project also requests various credits for being near the Expo (such as a 10 percent reduction in required parking), but does not intend to provide parking for the Expo.
Marilyn Krell, president South Brentwood Residents Association, representing about 13,000 people who live north of the project, echoed Cole’s recommendations for more housing, specifically affordable rentals, and Expo parking to reduce traffic. She said that South Brentwood would also benefit from a shuttle or DASH bus.
One last concern is safety.
“We’ve got to be able to get across the street,” Krell said of pedestrians crossing on Olympic Boulevard and Bundy Drive. Past suggestions have been a bridge or elevated walkway from the Expo Line, or a pedestrian scramble where each side crosses at once.
While easing traffic may see Brentwood green light development, southeast neighbor Mar Vista has vetoed the Center.
“We say this footprint is too big for our community, and we ask our neighbors in West L.A. to say ‘absolutely no,’” said Michael Millman of the Mar Vista Community Council.
Designed by global architecture giant Gensler, the Martin Expo Town Center calls for an approximately 4.76-acre development, as well as a 10,000-square-foot paseo with landscaping, water elements, and outdoor seating.
Martin project manager Simmons called the plans “a state-of-the-art transit-oriented development” four years in the making, adding that the Martin’s have been located on the Westside for more than 65 years.
Pervious environmental impact reports have projected the project finishing by 2018, but it is unclear if this timeline represents the current plan for the project.