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Thursday, August 28, 2014

The Americana at Vermont? Shopping center developer Rick Caruso makes a move on Los Feliz


View US Post Office: Los Feliz in a larger map

Will there be a trolley running down Vermont Avenue? Will Frank Sinatra blare over outdoor speakers as fountains shoot into the sky across from Skylight Books and Fred 62? Will diners forsake the House of Pies for Cheesecake Factory? So many questions after the Los Feliz Ledger reports that the firm controlled by Rick Caruso -who developed The Grove,  The Americana at Brand, The Commons at Calabasas  and several other high-end shopping centers – wants to build 50,000-square feet of retail space on the current site of the Los Feliz post office on Vermont Avenue.  An official with Caruso Affiliated Holdings revealed parts of the company’s proposal, which would restore nearly a block-long stretch of shops on the west side of Vermont  that were demolished to make way for the post office and parking lots.

The proposal must still win the backing of the post office and federal officials. There’s also a chance the post office would seek other bidders to develop the property, according to The Ledger.

73 comments

  1. plan calls for more parking? LAME. bring shops in and make it bike and pedestrian friendly. We don’t need more cars in the area.

    • First we have to make bicyclists pedestrian friendly.

      • The bike hating is tired. All bike riders are the same, the way all car drivers are same, the way all people are the same? Doesn’t work that way. Anyone that’s sat in a car, in bumper to bumper traffic, watching people on foot moving faster? Ever rented a bike on Coronado Island or Venice, for a ride on the strand? That’s what you’re hating on, not a couple of kamikaze bikers.

        • No, I’m pretty sure they are hating on the everyday people on bikes that routinely ride the wrong way down the street, loop around intersections to avoid red lights, don’t even slow down for stop signs even if another vehicle is already there, and swerve out from the sidewalk to the street without even looking. But of course the kamikaze cyclists that ride over the speed limit, run red lights and plow through a crosswalk full of people killing an old lady are of course deplorable.

          • “But of course the kamikaze cyclists that ride over the speed limit, run red lights and plow through a crosswalk full of people killing an old lady are of course deplorable.”
            Or they would be, if that ever happened. Still I can imagine your ongoing outrage at the behavior of all the drivers who drive over the speed limit, run red lights and run down people in crosswalks.

    • Why should we all have to suffer bike riding rather than car riding — just so Caruso can OVER BUILD? Forget about exploiting this for stupid bicycle promotion and talk about overbuilding!

      That location does NOT need a shopping mall! Even aside from basic overbuilding, it would destroy the village and community atmosphere that now exists, hurting all the residents in the area just in order to line Caruso’s pocket.

  2. Franklin and Bash

    Noooo!!!!!!!!

  3. That is the last place I would of expected a shopping center to be built.

  4. One word: Clusterfu*ck! Okay a little more. If I had my way I’d like to see something high end like Cross Creek/Malibu Lumber Yard and not some tacky small town America thing. Maxfields/Ink/Sprinkles…. you know fancy. As for the above comment without a doubt they are going to have to address parking/traffic big time. As for bike friendly it already is just ride on over. But as usual the “big bike” crowd just shoot their mouths off with no cohesive concept of reality. He says “add parking” and make it “bike friendly”? WTF does that mean exactly. Ban cars on Vermont? Bike racks? I grew up in LF and most of the charm (george’s/onyx) is long gone so why not just go for it?

    • Cross Creek Lumber Yard ? uh , this is the Eastside baby , keep it real.
      If you want Malibu , move there when you can afford it.

    • High end? Seriously?! I am fed the f*ck up with “high end”!

    • Well, “if I had my way,” I’d like to see a Post Office there. Its not like that facility is horribly overused, so why ever would it be closed as unneeded?! That must be just about the most heavily used Post Office branches anywhere!

  5. What about developing the Circuit City building and parking lot?! HELLO!!!!!

  6. So glad I moved out of Los Feliz, it already blows and is gonna get a lot worse.

  7. Silver Lake resident

    Wait, does this mean they’re closing that post office?! I have a PO Box there. Where is the nearest branch / when is this happening?

  8. Sweet…See you at the Red Lobster for all-you-can-eat shrimp!

  9. This is horrible news. I would lie in front of the bulldozer.

    • …except for the fact that I don’t do anything requiring more effort than typing 2 sentences on a community blog.

  10. Yeah, because Glendale is too far away, right?!

  11. this would truly be the beginning of the end for the communities east side of Vermont as we’ve known them.

  12. All of his developments are gaudy :|

  13. Glendale Eastsider

    First of all there will be no Trolley, that is just a lure that Slick Rick Caruso and his henchman Rick Lemmo will dangle in front of everyone, along with a very slick and glossy campaign to win the hearts and minds of the locals. Start looking for Slick Rick, via Rick Lemmo to appear at Neighborhood Council Meetings to push their agenda. Also look for them to donate to the neighborhood and selected council members to gain favor.
    Oh, and parking. They will tell you that there will be plenty of parking for all, including employees. Once open, they will forbid employees to park on site. Guess where the employees will park? Yep, right in the neighborhood.
    If you look at Crimemapping.com for the Americana, you will see that crime has gone up in that area. Crooks want to go where the picking is easy and there are plenty of targets.
    I could go on, but the bottom line is: if you value your neighborhood and the quality of life it represents to you, fight this and don’t let Slick sell you down the road.
    On the other hand, if you want to put more fuel in his Benetti Vision, 45m long, series-built, GRP-hulled yacht, then go for it!

  14. I thought this was a bad until someone mentioned a Red Lobster. I’m docking at Cheddar Bay!!!

  15. Gross but fitting. This type of development seems to be the fate of any LA neighborhood that grows and prospers. The developers are just giving the people what they want: chain stores, multiplexes and bland corporate eateries.

  16. Just what Los Feliz Blvd needs, more congestion.

  17. NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  18. Am actually looking forward to the big one!

  19. I for one would not mind seeing that stalinist bunker gone-
    BIG IF ! they brought back the COOL art deco store fronts that used to be there.
    - Instead of more ‘modern’ generic bland cheap crap malls.

    Look up ‘Los Feliz Mart’ and ‘Hollymont Market’ .

  20. Yikes! I really hope the post office sells to someone else. That stretch of Vermont is one of the most unique places in the entire city.

  21. this is comical. NEXT STOP…CHEDDAR BAY!

  22. Anyone who has been paying attention to the plight of the Postal Service should not be surprised by this. It’s has been postulated all along that the phony crisis ginned up by the Republicans (abetted by some Democrats for that matter) has had twin goals of breaking public unions and selling off valuable real estate that the USPS owns. Welcome to our future.

    It’s dusk in America.

    • Yet it’s apparently dawn for Americana.

      This whole idea makes me sick. His other properties are what they are, and I’m not totally against them, but to build one in Los Feliz just seems wrong given the character of the neighborhood. He should drop one of these things in downtown, plenty of parking lots and crap buildings need to be replaced there.

  23. WTF is happening to this town?! It’s unreal. Silverlake is already ruined, now Los Feliz will literally be destroyed by this idiot developer.

  24. Is this staying in CD4 or is has it been redistricted into CD13?

  25. Just to be clear what’s “real”? I’m not against real but what is it? Vegan homeless soup kitchen with a craft beer counter? A dickies outlet? How about a animal rescue massage parlor? Or a gang reintergration program? Maybe a mini mall with a donut shop and 99¢ chinese food? All I’m saying is if. I’m not saying it is a good location for a Caruso project but maybe if it came to be it can be something fun sexy and exciting. That’s not real? For example what’s wrong with “space 1520 Cahuenga”? Just give me some specifics so we as a community can have a discussion and not simply throw around slogans and sacred cows. If you want to see real check my hood HIFI. So amazingly authentic. Especially the social security office!

    • Was Rick Caruso responsible for ‘Space 1520′?

      Space 1520 is great, but it seems to be the polar opposite of a Rick Caruso project.

      If they promise and deliver a Space 1520 ‘east’ if you will, then I’d be happy with that.

    • Ollie, Here at the eastsider, we don’t strive to be reasonable. We just like to complain about anything and everything. Is $.99 Chinese food authentic? Of course not…neither are the muffler shops, 99 cent stores, liquor stores, walls of graffiti, etc. But if we don’t change it, we can feel good about our pathetic little existence as wannabe “creative” people (aka: unemployed, pot smoking, amateur gamer) living in our tiny 1-bedroom apartments and “bungalows” (aka: shacks). These places remind us that there are still people that are even more pathetic then ourselves and as long as we have that, we have all we need.

  26. If you read the article, the Post Office remains, and there is no mention of “upscale” for the project, whatever that means. Reality: if there is no parking, there are no shops or restaurants. Ask any of the business owners on the east side of the street what they want most – its parking for their customers. Ask residents east and west of Vermont what they want – its someplace for patrons to park other than on their streets. Some permitted alternatives that would not add traffic on Vermont at all would be light manufacturing, self storage or the existing Post Office. Sound good? Unfortunately zoning would not permit a cemetery.

  27. how many more properties does caruso need? obviously the guy is beyond rich, so what is with this need to continue acquiring and developing shopping malls?

  28. I live in the city so that I don’t have to look at obnoxious megamalls and pathetic chain restaurants. If I wanted to hear the Brian Setzer Orchestra blaring from outdoor speakers, while tourists take their picture in front of a hideous fountain I’d move to Glendale. As someone who works across the street from the proposed location and enjoys that nice quiet stretch of small shops and eateries, it would be a shame to see something like that move in. I already moved away from one city that was turned into one long strand of chain stores and restaurants, while the residents and shop owners got “displaced”. Does this have to happen in every city? I thought that was what the suburbs were for.

  29. It’s a 50,000 square foot parcel. The lawn at the Americana is approximately the same size (~1 acre). So for anyone to think that Caruso could do a lift of the Americana or the Grove here simply doesn’t understand scale. As commercial developers go, you can do a lot worse.

  30. Is there anyway to promote locally-owned businesses as potential renters in the ‘mall’? I don’t understand why it would HAVE to be gross chain stores. If the developer wants to put up a building, fine, but is there any way for the neighborhood to have a say in who rents the spaces? I guarantee the locals aren’t interested in an Olive Garden or the like.

  31. joannna elizabeth

    We’re talking about defiling the heart of Los Feliz. Los Feliz is a stylish, laid-back, bohemian gem. Caruso’s work is overpowering and charmless. His signage and storefronts are cartoonishly large, bright, and uber-commercial. Yes, the 1 acre size limits how much of a hideous blight this project represents, but still… where and when is the protest? I want to go.

  32. joannna elizabeth

    PS
    I just called his office to politely express my concerns. If you want to, the number is: (323) 900-8100

    • that is most kind…everyone that would be impacted by this fiasco should call. Express your outrage! Let Caruso know you will protest…shout it from your rooftops! This destruction of good peoples homes will not stand.

  33. I hate to paint an even bleaker hypothetical, but if he can buy a US Post Office, what’s to stop him from buying up the entire block?

    • in my doomsday scenario, he tears down the post office, the apartment building, the armenian nightclub and house of pies. that would give him enough room to build his shopping center and destroy whats left of the old feel from that neighborhood. sadly, my kids will learn to make do without Palermo’s.

  34. Why don’t all you complainers put a fund together and buy the property and build something YOU want on it? Oh, wait, because you would rather complain about the efforts of others than actually to something productive to fix the situation….which is the difference between you and Rick Caruso.

    • “than actually to(sic) something to fix the situation”… fix what situation?

      That’s the whole point of the naysayers, of which I’m one. There’s nothing really wrong with things the way they are now. We don’t need anything ‘fixed’. We don’t need more retail in Los Feliz. We have every damn type of business you could possibly want in the Village, and doubles and triples of many, so yeah, variety too.
      I will concede that the Post Office is butt ugly and could use a face lift, but in the proposed plan they want to make it smaller. Have you seen how crowded it is at all hours of the day? That is a very ‘used’ Post Office by the residents. Smaller means less employees and then even longer lines.
      If the postal service was smart, they’d use the current customer parking lot to house their 7 or 8 vehicles that are there at any given time, flip the entrance to the post office to other side of the building and open up that huge and largely empty parking lot on that side with a certain amount of spaces for customers and then make the rest a pay-parking lot.
      That would be a win/win situation for everyone. Post Office makes money off parking, businesses see an upswing in business because people can actually find some parking, and, well … p[eople can actually find parking so they’re happy too. Plus, it would alleviate the problem of the back-up of cars on Vermont waiting to get into the parking lot which screws up people trying to turn south onto Vermont from Franklin.
      I’ve lived here for 25 years. Based on all past projects, the kinds of buisinesses and restaurants Caruso goes for (and it says they’ll do the choosing) have no place in this neighborhood. Most of the people who’ve lived here a long time are very anti-corporation and a huge part of the appeal of this neighborhood is the relative lack of chainstores. It is it’s unique small town feel in a big city of bland repetitiveness that makes it desirable. Why replace the real deal with Caruso’s cartoon version?

      • Believe me, I am fully aware of the reason many of the local residents don’t want this type of building in their neighborhood. But, if you don’t want it to change, then put a fund together with other like-minded people to buy the building. Then, you can do whatever you want with it…you can even turn it into a co-op yoga, vegan, anti-corporation community center for underprivileged kids raised by crack addicted gang members. But, if you do nothing but complain (naysay), Rick Caruso WILL build the building and he will most likely fill it with large national retailers and food chains because that is what he does.

        But we both know that you will not do anything to actually prevent this type of development from happening…

        • First off, if you’d paid any attention to what I said, I don’t want it turned into anything. We have plenty of yoga studios, vegan restaurants, blah blah blah. And you can kindly stop being an ass. You don’t know me, my tastes, or who I am, so painting those who are against this with broad sarcastic strokes does little to engender dialog.
          Why would I want to buy a building to keep it exactly as it is? That’s the whole point here. It doesn’t need to be bought or sold. It’s fine the way it is. Caruso is trying to force feed something to a community that the people who actually live here neither want nor need. Wrong project for the wrong community. He just doesn’t get that and just doesn’t care. That speaks volumes about the kind of developer he is, and yet he is incredibly well connected with many people in high places.
          I am not. I have close to zero political power. And while I’ve made a decent living, have no debt, and probably have more saved for retirement than most, there’s no way I could come close to finding the many millions necessary to come up with a counter offer, not if I asked every person I’ve ever known, not if every person who is against this kicked in the maximum they could afford, and particularly not in this economy. And even if by some miracle I did, by not being a well connected developer with knowledge of the back door dealings or privy to the political manueverings necessary to accomplish such a thing, I haven’t got a chance of ‘winning’ a fight against Caruso on a financial level. Not many would. I don’t know anything about developement. It’s not even remotely my area of expertise, but it is his, and he’s one of the biggest and most powerful with massive amounts of funds at his disposal.
          You know this very well and that is why your suggestion is laughable and dismissive. And no, I have no intention of just sitting back and complaining on a blog. I’m wise enough to know when I’m out-gamed, but that doesn’t mean I won’t go down without fighting. While I may not be able to compete on a finacial level, you can bet I will still fight this tooth and nail. I’ll be at every community meeting, I’ll write letters, I’ll make phone calls. I’ll do what I know how to do. Buying a property and developing it is not one of them.
          And by the way, you thoroughly underestimate the power of this tact and the toughness of this community. It worked once before and it can work again. Complaining on a blog is just the start. It’s the rallying call for the fight.

        • Yes, take up a collection! It will definitely raise enough to keep Rick Caruso out. Can we have a bake sale too, even though everyone is on a low-carb diet?

  35. See what all of you hipsters did.

  36. Is the Post Office the heart of Los Feliz? It’s a concrete box surrounded by a sea of parking lots, most of which are closed to the public. I lived right next door for a few years, and that giant lot where they park the trucks is the biggest waste of space in the area. If they can move parking underground and open it up to the public, it would help the residents tremendously when it comes to parking.

    When you actually read the article, you can see that the developer is presenting ideas of what looks like a replica of the old “Los Feliz Mart.” So maybe we can be hopeful that they wouldn’t be entirely tasteless when it comes to the design. Certainly it can’t be worse than the recently horrifyingly renovated Psychobabble (I mean Bru) building.

    • “Certainly it can’t be worse than the recently horrifyingly renovated Psychobabble (I mean Bru) building”
      I’ll agree with you that that was a huge blight on the neighborhood and would have been better if left alone. Which is why I say “why risk f***ing up the other side too?” Just leave it be. No more harm, please!

      No our ugly post office is not perfect, but I go there all the time and so do many, many others. It is a very useful part of the neighborhood. They are saying they will reduce it’s size and services. It may not even be there at all. In any event, it will no longer be a full-service post office.

      We need it more than we need fakey old-timey signage on a small-town USA replica building filled with corporate chain stores and restaurants.

  37. Perhaps Caruso’s idea is a hideously garish shopping mall with the same Disney feel that Americana and The Grove have, but instead of his trademark faux Americana look, it’ll have a horrid, cartoonish hipster theme–Like a weird hipster world that feels familiar and comforting, but that never actually existed? What do you think that would look like?

  38. I don’t mind some development on that side of the street. The Post Office is a dead, grey cement bunker. It’s a city. Things develop. Things change. Depending on what kind of shops, restaurants, bars, coffee bars, whatever, a smaller scale, lower key Caruso project might be ok. I agree that the Space 1520 in Hollywood is much more suited to the Los Feliz style. (Too bad we can’t return the Los Feliz Theatre to a real non-divided theatre.) But the real horror of the Caruso projects is to listen to those same Sinatra (“The Best Is Yet To Come”, Ella (“Begin the Beguine’), Dino and Mel Torme sing those same songs piped out of the trees and rocks OVER AND OVER AND OVER YEAR AFTER YEAR! And I used to love those songs and those great singers. Caruso’s ruined it. An Urban Nightmare!

  39. It’ll be GREAT to see that nuclear BUNKER post office GONE.
    Whingers, save your whingeing for the real threat to the hood:
    big greedy bland condo boxes.

  40. The Unhappies of Los Feliz

    Local resident Brian Cornelius, of Caruso Affiliated was just appointed for an interim term on the Greater Griffith Neighborhood Council, and is the guy who presented the plan. Smell fishy. Add this, also from the Los Feliz Ledger:

    The goal,” Cornelius said, “is to make this a community serving project with Los Feliz Village’s unique neighborhood flavor… It’s my neighborhood too, so personally I want to see something happen that’s very well thought out.”

  41. I’m feeling Carusofied.

  42. keep Rick Caruso out!!!He swallows up small business and create a cookie cutter type mega-mall with ridiculously priced product. Los Feliz is charming and delightful as is….Hands off Caruso. Go to some other state and do your thing…Colorado Springs needs you.

  43. We protested the building of a Whole Foods on Los Feliz Blvd and it worked! There is no Whole Foods there! We can do the same for this new ridiculous & horrific idea. And thank you ‘sameville’ for your thoughtful responses to the person who illogically keeps complaining about people complaining. We should all contact our city council people and attend any meetings in regards to this situation!

    • Be careful what you wish for

      Congratulations, there will be no Whole Foods on Los Feliz Blvd, and instead construction has just begun on a new Scientology building on the same site. How is that better for the community?

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