Flea’s Silver Lake music school enters Sunset Junction development battle

Rendering of apartment building (left) and music conservatory

Rendering of apartment building (left) and music conservatory

SILVER LAKE — After spending several years searching for a new, larger home, the Silverlake Conservatory of Music has identified a new site only a short walk from its current Sunset Junction location.  But that same property is owned by a developer that plans to build a five-story apartment complex on the same site.  On Thursday night, representatives of the music school cofounded by Michael Peter Balzary – aka Flea – of the Red Hot Chili Peppers are scheduled to discuss their vision for a new campus during a meeting hosted by the Silver Lake Neighborhood Council.

Officials for developer Frost/Chaddock have said that the property at the southwest corner of Santa Monica Boulevard and Sanborn Avenue is not for sale. A spokeswoman said the developer, which plans to build two other large apartment buildings in the same area as part of its Junction Gateway development,  had offered second-floor space to the school but that deal did not pan out. “We would like to see them stay in Silver Lake,” she said.

Despite Frost/Chaddock’s rejection, the school and its supporters have not dropped their plans for the site and new school, which they said is smaller and would prove a better fit for the neighborhood than the larger apartment complex. “The Conservatory is making an above-market-rate offer to Frost/Chaddock in an effort to transform the Junction Gateway into a win-win for both the community and the developer,” said Ari Bessendorf, a spokesman for SaveSunsetJunction.org.

At last month’s Silver Lake Neighborhood Council meeting, many board members expressed support for a motion in support of the school’s bid.  But even board members who expressed support for the school said the developer could not be forced to sell the property.

The Thursday meeting, which will also cover different visions for Sunset Junction,  is scheduled to begin at 5:30 p.m. in the auditorium of Micheltorena Elementary School.


  1. Ari,
    Just yell at the people and they will do what you tell them! It works every time! Do it! Do it now!!! DO IT!!!!!
    Love Always,
    Your Ego

  2. The Conservatory plan seems much more in keeping with the character of the community. If the developer sells that parcel to the Conservatory, maybe the council or Mitch O’Farrell could help facilitate the other two projects for the developers. quid pro quo

  3. we need to add a bit more culture to the neighborhood. we all ready have plenty of fancy schmantsy living quarters. A music conservatory would give our folks something to enjoy and somewhere to send our youthful member of society. Developers and their expensive living quarters…go somewhere else.

    • Why does everyone have such hatred for new housing? I am curious as to what all the naysayers of the mixed-use development live in? A shack they built themselves. Its a fact that we need more housing. Any housing – even luxury – is better than no housing.

    • I’m a landlord and I agree. The Conservatory does add value to the community.

      • And less rental competition for you. Underlying much of the protests against residential development is property owners’ fear that their house, land, condo, apartment house value will be effected negatively. Some of the opposition use aesthetics as a reason but they really are against any new housing and occupants. There is nasty prejudice against anyone who wants to move here and pay the going price. On this blog and in these comments potential newcomers are treated as invaders with values and habits different from us. The Eastsider has become an ugly place.

  4. Wait, what? I’m all for supporting the arts, but this sounds a bit crazy to me. The way this is worded, it sounds like the school is entitled to the land because they identified it as suitable for them …despite it belonging to someone else, who doesn’t want to sell.

    • No, you’re reading it correctly. I think the SLCM proposal is great and would be wonderful for the neighborhood but…and it’s a pretty big but…it’s not their land and the seller doesn’t want to sell. It’d be the same as someone saying ‘hey, sell me your house b/c I can build a nicer one on it. Oh, and I can’t afford to pay market price so give me a 40% discount. Sell me your house!! If you don’t sell me your house, I’m going to have a public protest until you change your mind.’

    • lol. right. it’s going to be interesting to see how the conservatory will try to stymie development plans. if they’re willing to pay above market rate they shouldn’t have trouble finding a new location. and why is the conservatory aligning with oft wrong nimby’s?

    • You got it right. And put that way it’s a bit like legal extortion. And it’s not like there’s a shortage of other potential properties within a couple blocks either way of the current SLCM location that couldn’t be vastly improved with this proposal. If Flea was really serious, and it wasn’t just about killing the F/C development, then it wouldn’t be an all-or-nothing proposition, as it appears to be.

  5. @mBrad You noticed that too. The fascism of the elite. Stay away from this one Ari.

  6. Yes and no.

    YES it would be a better community if there was a music conservatory rather than an apartment building.

    No the owner does not have to sell.

    YES the people have a right to do everything legally possible to stop a development they don’t want.

    YES the conservatory has the right to try and use popular support to leverage a deal.

    YES the developer and the owner have the right to do everything they legally can to get a deal.

    YES MItch O Farrell has the right to support this development or not.

    Yes the people have the right to re elect him or not

  7. Regarding the parcel of land, Flea should just ask Frost Chaddock to “give it away, give it away, give it away now.” If his request doesn’t work, he could open a second Conservancy “under the bridge downtown.”

    On a serious note, doesn’t Flea also own the Haven of Rest property on Hyperion? Could that be used as a location for the Conservancy of Music?

  8. So let me get this straight. The Conservatory wants to build on land that isn’t theirs. Ok, and they want FC to sell the land to them, uh huh. FC does not want to sell the land, right? So they are going to hold a rally asking FC to sell land that they’ve already stated that they have no intention to sell. This sounds so dysfunctional that the Silver Lake Neighborhood Council must have a hand in this somewhere.

  9. LA is way short of reasonably priced rental housing. If the SLC wants to build this project with affordable housing, I’m all for it!

    • Or maybe LA is replete with uneducated, low-skilled people who don’t have the earning potential to afford housing.

      • Oh no true freedom you’ve got it all wrong! We need more places to warehouse all the baby mommas while they continue to crap out more kids to suck off the system!

      • If CA would stop providing incentive for cheap labor coming here, maybe the wage would oraganically increase. Simple supply and demand. More supply of cheap labor, wages will remain depressed.

    • Be like an illegal and shack up with eight to ten people in an one bedroom apartment. That’s the remedy. It works.

  10. I hear there might be a vacant church available soon.


    Maybe the neighbors would prefer music over a hotel.

  11. F/C wants and needs the council member’s support to build this project – they’re using SB 1818 – the same law that brought you poor doors – to get around the local zoning. Seems like scaling back the project to a more human scale is a good idea, if the community supports the Conservatory’s proposal, why not try to come to a compromise position that still gives them a good return?

  12. the silver lake conservatory can build somewhere else
    LA needs housing. why is housing so expensive here? because nobody can build enough to satisfy the demand.
    enough with the nimbys. or as I say bananas… build absolutely nothing anywhere near anything

  13. There was a big town hall about this issue last night. Flea was there. It was great to see the community out and involved.

    However, I appeared to be the ONLY person who spoke out in favor of the Frost/Chaddock development.

    I don’t know how this became an issue of the Music Conservatory vs. the Frost/Chaddock condominium project. Sunset Blvd as it runs through Silver Lake is pretty degraded and depressing. We need housing, street-level retail and a walkable urban landscape.

    An expanded Music Conservatory in this location will simply create one more low-rise structure that will become a dead-zone at night and – based on the above rendering – a magnet for homeless people to congregate in the park.

    I know I am in the minority (at least as far as those who showed up last night), but I think putting the Music Conservatory here is short-sighted and backwards-looking.

    That said, the will of the community should be respected. I simply feel it’s the wrong decision.

    Why can’t the conservatory be housed inside the Frost/Chaddock development? That would seem to be the logical compromise.

  14. The meeting was a fart. A bunch of illogical emotionally unarrested people spewing all sorts of twisted rantings like the people who move into the new development won’t lend themselves to be part of the neighborhood. Or the absolutely krazed woman who kept shouting out “parking!”. FC stated that it’s their land and they intend to build. The veil was dropped when FC admitted to have offered the SLC space in the new project, ample space at that. The SLC did not deny it. Why do they really want this land so badly?

  15. Based on the two renderings i would take the conservatory version all day. It’s clear that the developer is trying to squeeze every inch out of that space which makes sense, for him as he should, Unfortunately It’s not a neighborhood minded model . The idea that this development will lower housing demand is laughable. It’s designed to increase demand for affluent people the way malls do. God forbid a neighborhood in L.A. try to resist that life style in any way.

    Personally I’m for a compromise but I think people should fight tooth and nail to create the neighborhood they want. The developer is not the friend of the neighborhood, that doesn’t make him evil but he is here only to make money. The residence are here to maintain a certain quality of life that made it “desireable” in the first place.

  16. Not another low rise!! We have to build up people!! Yea, I know, the school would be cute and quaint, but at night? Yes, ANOTHER DEAD ZONE, and a great place for vagrants to camp out in yet another crappy urban park. Isn’t bed-pan park on Griffith proof enough.
    And what do you mean, the building doesn’t match the neighborhood? This is LA. It is the most eclectic city when it comes to architecture. I think it adds diversity. Everyone was screaming bloody murder when they built those modern condos on Sunset just west of Manzanita Street, and what happened? They’re awesome! Very nice building and it adds our community. Before, it was a no-mans land.
    And parking??? So when all the students come to this school, where will they park? A school will certainly bring more traffic than an apartment building, soooo????
    Lastly, you can lament all you want about the history of that block, a different light etc. I remember, I was there for it all!
    But EVERY business that ever set up shop there went broke. Even with those cute and historic buildings, it was dead zone! And it continues to be such. We need life, and people, AND their money. And we have to share! We can’t be all, “oh my neighborhood is perfect for me, just leave it alone, go somewhere else” So we’re all just supposed to keep living in our little pretend low rise, suburban street, and make it difficult for others to live here because someone might loose their view of the city. If that were the law, then this city would have to freeze 99% of all new construction. And I’m really getting tired of hearing people saying things like, “We don’t want ‘those people’ coming and ruining our block.” PLEASE! If our community was really that stagnant and resistant to change, then Silver Lake would still be completely gay with a few gangsters and punks tossed in. So to all you str8, yuppie/hipsters, YOU ARE ‘THOSE’ PEOPLE. But I welcome you anyway. And any of my gay brothers who bitch about the ‘scene’ at Intelligentsia, etc, I tell them to put a sock in it because what Garret and Flea, have done has only helped OUR neighborhood and invigorate the community. But now it’s time for these folks to feel the pressure of change. Work with it, don’t hamper it!
    Again, we don’t need another low rise building. THIS IS EXACTLY WHY L.A. CAN SUCK SOMETIMES. Everything is too spread out and you have to DRIVE EVERYWHERE! We need more 3,4,5, story, multi-use, residential structures, so that public transportain, subways, trolly’s, etc. can actually be useful!! Hello?? NY, SF, Chicago, Boston. If more people can live in the corridor, the more life they bring to our community. Yes the idea for the expanded school is cute, but where do the people live? There looks to be some kind of set back on the second floor. Is this to be Flea’s executive office, or private party space for the truly privileged?


    PS, I don’t want a Starbucks here, but why not let the market demand set the standard. If we really are better than that and have more to offer, then those business would not succeed. And if the new space has adequate store frontage, then new independent businesses can open and flourish. I’m hoping that the current business owners are not afraid of a little competition. I’m sure there’s no shortage of the new crop of young entrepreneurs ready and willing to go for it in our new digs in the Junction. (just like they’re starting to do in ‘Virgil Village’.

  17. With all the eminent domain power the city has used to benefit lots of developers all over town for many. many decades, this would be the perfect spot for Councilman O’Farrell to show he gives a damn about this neighborhood, and use the city’s eminent domain power — if needed — to see to it that the Conservancy can have and develop that site.

    As long as it is for a “public purpose,” eminent domain can be used. And that definition of “public purpose” has been used for a lot less public purpose than this Conservancy plan would be. Gee, what the city has done over the years shows that the term “public purpose” can be applied to pretty much anything.

    So, good, let it bee a negotiated agreement to sell to the conservancy. But if that falls through, O’Farrell should bring in the city’s eminent domain power.

    Frankly, I think O’Farrell is obligated to do so to this neighborhood, as it is that council district, under Garcetti with O’Farrell working for him, that quietly tried to dupe us when this developer came in under cover of darkness (weekend) and tore down that historic bookstore for this project, after promising not to do so. Garcetti, who had had many a meeting with this developer, absolutely knew about that demolition plan, despite his office’s lies to the contrary — he knew the city had issued a demolition permit, even though neighbors here did not realize it (council offices are informed of such permits), and just look at all the other hugh developments Garcetti has secretly pushed through behind the public’s back, the latest being the now court-stopped Target store at Sunset and Western — and it turns out, Garcetti is the one tho pushed them to build more than they even asked to build, far more than allowed there.

    I would not be at all surprised if it were this council office who encouraged the developer to tear down that historic book store as a means of undermining the neighbors’ objections to this project.

    Such lies and deceit on behalf of this developer should get them no consideration against use of eminent domain. In fact, let eminent domain serve to be a lesson.

  18. Could it not be both? Conservatory and housing?

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