Echo Park - It was a rough night for developers Wednesday, as the Echo Park Neighborhood Council held a special informational and feedback meeting about the development to replace Taix restaurant on Sunset Boulevard.
At a Zoom meeting attended by Mike Taix, who owns the restaurant, and Tom Warren of Holland Partner Group, which has proposed a six-story residential and commercial complex, public comments ranged from to the merely critical to the personally insulting.
"I want the developers to know they are bad people who are making the world uglier," said one commenter who said he lived across the street from the development site.
The commenter said he preferred to see a shelter there for the unhoused. Speakers for Friends of Taix said they wanted to see the building stay the way it is.
Members of the Council's board - as well as a couple of members of the public - were more supportive for developing the property. Most took at least some exception to the design, however, with many complaining that it looked the same as every other development going up right now.
"The design is completely ordinary," said Louis Molina, an architect and a stakeholder on the board. "It doesn’t have any aesthetic to speak of."
The Holland Group is planning to replace the old Taix building with a six-story complex that has 170 units of housing and 13,000 square feet of retail commercial space - including 6,000 square feet for a new, scaled-down version of Taix restaurant.
Mike Taix told the board he decided to sell the building and have it redeveloped because the restaurant simply couldn’t survive in its current form - with a parking lot that’s mostly not being used and banquet rooms that generally sit empty. Without this development deal, he might be out of business already, he said.
"I wouldn’t have done this if things were peachy keen," Mike Taix said. "I saw a straight downhill profits starting about four years ago."
Warren reacted to criticisms from the meeting, saying "It hurts me to hear this stuff. But it’s valid. A lot of it is valid."
But he added that change had to come. Neighborhoods have to evolve, or else they deteriorate, he said - and leaving the restaurant the way it is would simply result in a vacant building.
"It was failing before," Warren said about the restaurant, "and then there was COVID."
It is unclear when the neighborhood council will be taking a vote on the project. However, there will be at least one more meeting after this.
"I think the best thing to do is to take these comments into consideration and get back to you," Warren said, adding, "the more you work the design, the better it gets."