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Hermosa Beach News for 2006

Mixed-Use Development in Hermosa Beach

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Hermosa Beach City Councilmember Pete Tucker requests a public hearing for a Mixed-Use office condo project at 1429 Hermosa Avenue. 

Pete Tucker's and the other city councilmember's comments from the Nov. 28, 2006 city council meeting are just after this after the following Letter to the Editor.

The Daily Breeze – December 7, 2006

Letters to the Editor


Condo project lacks adequate parking

Hermosa Beach is digging an even deeper downtown-parking deficiency hole with the Planning Commission's "rubber stamp" approval of a 30-plus-feet-tall, four-level, flat-roofed, 35-unit commercial condominium project at 15th Street and Hermosa Avenue.

Among a litany of concerns is the city's day/night shared parking calculation requiring less than one net parking space on site per business or restaurant condo contained therein. Two of the 35 condos are in fact restaurants; one is 3,000 square feet, the other 1,500 square feet. Thus, 35 condo owners, two being the restaurant condo owners, will have less than one parking space each.

Two other projects have an intensified-building-usage shared parking concept; however, those are each under single ownership and have better on-site parking in the first place. This project, with 35 independent owners crammed in, has no practical opportunity for 35 owner-controlled shared parking plans. The developer and city are burying their heads in the sand rather than facing the reality that this project lacks sensible parking and sets a terrible precedent for future development citywide.

Hermosa Beach, essentially acting as a prostitute, is extorting from the developer $200,000 as payment for seven nonexistent parking places the city will never supply given the shortage of parking already waiting for a years-away parking garage. The developer is foolish to participate in this extortion.

The developer would do much better by submitting a common-sense, less-intensive design, with realistic parking, rather than being hustled by Hermosa Beach. The city has screwed up many developments and created the city's parking problems with its lax parking requirements. The project will be a parking pain for its 35 condo-owners, the current downtown businesses and residents long suffering from the severe parking shortage there.

City Council, are you also going to be "rubber stamping" this project?


Hermosa Beach


Hermosa Beach City Councilmember Pete Tucker requests a public hearing for an office condo project at 1429 Hermosa Avenue.

No other HB City Councilmember voiced support for Pete Tucker's request. 

For a public hearing to take place, two city councilmember's need to request a public hearing for this project at 1429 Hermosa Avenue.

At the November 28, 2006 Hermosa Beach City Council meeting:

The following are the verbal comments by each Hermosa Beach City Councilmember's regarding the 1429 Hermosa Avenue, mixed use office condo project.

Peter Tucker:

OK, the reason I pulled this, there was a project that was approved, resolution number PC 06-30, which is a condo office project on 14th street, 1429 Hermosa Avenue.  In reviewing the report and what the commission did.

This project is grossly under-parked.  It requires 77 (parking) spots.  They are only going to provide I believe 34 (parking spots) on-site and they are going pay an in lieu fee for 7 (parking spots). 

And we’ve had other condo office projects who have provided at least the required parking.  These office condos range any where from 607 square feet to 302 square feet.

So, I think we need to review this project.  For the impact it’s causing, not only for the downtown area but in the residential area.

I just think it’s going to be a burden to the area down there and I think we need to review the parking plan for this project and either, have a public hearing on it.

So I am looking for support for one other vote to bring this back to the council for a public hearing.

Sam Edgerton:

Does anybody support the request?  I happen to like the project, I mean, you know, I just, I do. 

So… if somebody else wants to vote or, it’s brought back.

Going once…going twice…

Shirley Cassel:

Excuse me, can we speak on this?

Sam Edgerton:

Absolutely, come up.

Shirley Cassel:

Mr. Mayor, members of the council, Shirley Cassel, Hermosa Beach.

Is that the one where they want to put in 33 to 35 condominiums, down there?

Pete Tucker: Yeah

Michael Keegan: Office condos.

Sam Edgerton: These are office condos.

Pete Tucker:  Office condos and a restaurant.

Shirley Cassel:

And also to, they want to dig down I think quite a ways, to put in a parking… (underground parking garage)

Pete Tucker: Yeah, that’s another concern I have, with the…

Shirley Cassel:

And then also to, they are going to have a pump going there 24 and 7.  They’re too close to the water.

Pete Tucker:

They are going to have to de-water the site, if they hit it, yeah.  So that’s another concern, that wasn’t in the resolution, also.  So.

Shirley Cassel:

That’s bad, and also to, that’s too many condos, because eventually, what that’s going to happen. 

The people that buy those…and the next thing you know they are going to put in a couch…and then there going to put in a little tiny two burner strove…oh yeah… and they are all going to have little showers in there.

And before you know it, it is going to be a flop house.

You people better really look at the project very, very closely.  Our your liable to be very, very surprised.

In the next couple years, you’re going to have people living in there.  Thank you.

Pete Tucker:

OK, no I just feel that the parking is a problem.  I think they are entitled to get residential stickers.  That will impact the neighborhood. 

So there is a lot of things that need to be looked at. 

Parking is a big issue.  We have made all the other projects in town conform.

And why, why we have let this one go, I am not quite sure.  We have one on the highway where, we are going thru the hoops with him.

So, I just feel it is a quality of life issue for the people that live around there.  It’s just the people that are going to be in the condo.  So.


No other Hermosa Beach City Council member supported Pete Tuckers request for a Hermosa Beach City Council public hearing for the 35 condo project with a restaurant at 1429 Hermosa Avenue.


Sam Edgerton:

OK, um, all the comments are in… going once…going twice…going three times…I don’t hear anything…and this matter is closed.

City Manager Steve Burrell: You should need to receive and file the action list.

Sam Edgerton: Is there a motion to receive and file?

Pete Tucker: I will make a motion to receive and file.

Sam Edgerton:  Is there a second?  All those in favor, say aye.

The motion to receive and file passed, with a unanimous vote.

The following is the Conditional Use Permit for a new 19,000 square foot three-story commercial building divided into up to 35 condominium units at 1429 Hermosa Avenue.




October 17, 2006
7:00 P.M.

CUP for a new 19,000 square foot three-story commercial building divided into up to 35 condominium units at 1429 Hermosa Avenue.

CON 06-12/PDP 06-11/PARK 06-5 -- Conditional Use Permit, Precise Development Plan and Vesting Tentative Tract Map No. 67748 for a new 19,000 square foot three-story commercial building with basement parking containing office, snack shop, and restaurant uses and outside dining, divided into up to 35 condominium units (33 office units on the upper floors and one restaurant and one snack shop unit on the ground floor), and a Parking Plan to base the parking requirements on the peak shared parking requirements of the proposed uses and to pay parking in-lieu fees to compensate for providing less than required parking on site, and adoption of an Environmental Negative Declaration at 1429 Hermosa Avenue.


The following news story outlines the 35 condo office and restaurant project at 1429 Hermosa Avenue.

The Easy Reader – October 26, 2006

Hermosa Beach

Modern office-eatery building okayed


by Robb Fulcher


A rendering by Shop architects shows the building set to replace the Classic Burger and Hermosa Beach Donuts eateries on Hermosa Avenue.

The green light has been given to a plan to replace two decades-old buildings in the downtown area with a contemporary building housing as many as 33 condo-style offices, a snack shop and an upscale restaurant.

The approval by the City Council on Tuesday allows the 19,000 square-foot building to be constructed, but a separate approval will be required before the 2,800 square-foot restaurant would be allowed to open.

The plans by locally-owned Cardinal Investments call for a three-story building wrapped around a courtyard, replacing the 50-year-old Hermosa Beach Donuts building and the 30-year-old Classic Burger building on Hermosa Avenue near 15th Street.

Fifteenth Street resident Roy Casey expressed concern that a restaurant open at night, coupled with a courtyard, could add to neighborhood noise, and that another downtown-area restaurant could become a “nightclub.”

Council members assured Casey that a restaurant operator would face public hearings before the Council and the city Planning Commission before getting permission to open.

Cardinal partner Mike Flaherty, a Hermosa Avenue resident, said after the council meeting that the group wants the restaurant closed at midnight, courtyard seating cut off at 10 p.m., and wants no dance floor, cover charge or live entertainment at the eatery. He said Cardinal wants those conditions to be formally imposed by the city, and included in legal covenants with the eventual restaurant operator.

Flaherty said he hopes the restaurant will attract a clientele older and quieter than the college-age crowds that frequent many downtown establishments at night.

(He is not the same Mike Flaherty who serves as public works superintendent for the city of Hermosa Beach.)

The building’s offices will be sold to their occupants rather than leased, and will be laid out in three stories wrapped around the courtyard. Each office will be just over 400 square feet, most with ocean views down 15th Street and 15th Court, Flaherty said.

City planners have praised a recent trend toward condo-style office development, saying the daytime office use will help offset a night-owl trend prompted by numerous successful bars and restaurants. City officials say the owner-occupants of the offices will go to there in the daytime, boosting stores’ and restaurants’ daylight customer base, and leave by night, when increased auto traffic would be less welcome.

Cardinal’s plans call for a beach-contemporary building with large amounts of glass and natural wood, designed to fit in with existing Hermosa architecture. The ground-level courtyard will be repeated on the second and third floors, allowing passersby to look up “though the building” to the sky, he said. The building will not exceed the city’s height limit, Flaherty said.

The building is being designed by the highly regarded Shop architects of New York with help from Hermosa architect Larry Peha to keep the look Hermosa-friendly and help guide the project through the city planning process.

The building will feature storage space for surfboards and bicycles, men’s and women’s lockers and showers, and a 34-space subterranean parking garage with an entrance on 15th Street. Office owners will use the garage during the day and restaurant patrons would use it at night, Flaherty said.

Other condo-office projects under way include a 53-unit development on Pier Avenue to replace the old “200 Building," a three-story office monolith that has been torn down, and a 16-unit development at Second Street and Pacific Coast Highway. ER


The Easy Reader – June 8, 2006

Hermosa Beach

Nueva Hermosa, Part I


The city is getting a long slow facelift as old commercial buildings are toppled for stylish condo-style offices and ‘mixed-use’ buildings stacking restaurants, offices and homes on top of each other.


by Robb Fulcher


1) A new façade for the Grand View hotel on 14th Street (2) a Pier Avenue restaurant-and-office development bisected by Loma Drive (3) a ‘campus’ of condo-style offices on Pier Avenue (4) more condo offices on Second Street (5) decades-old eateries that might bite the dust (6) a fine old apartment building, with a ghost, gets a much-needed renovation (7) a condo-and-office building surprises Hermosa Avenue at Second Street.

The beach cities’ scruffiest and arguably coziest town is in the process of a long, slow, non-extreme makeover.

The wrecking ball swings on a monolithic office building on Pier Avenue and a long-standing mortuary up the block, making way for a “campus” of 53 condo-style offices, and a mixed-use development with a restaurant downstairs and office space above.

Nearby on the Hermosa Avenue artery a wobbly restaurant bites the dust to make way for a second-floor condominium above an office building, and a tatty daycare structure across the street is pulverized in favor of a three story-building with two homes above a commercial ground floor. Up on Pacific Coast Highway at Second Street, 16 more condo-style offices will encourage local entrepreneurs to ride their bikes to work.

City officials have praised those projects and a number of others — all in various phases of planning, demolition or construction — that will replace or renovate city structures. Town poobahs think the Pier Avenue offices will look good and their tenants will come to the downtown in the day, when they’re wanted, and leave at night when it’s crowded anyway and nobody wants them there. Also pleased are fans of mixed-use developments, which aim to make the maximum use of land in congested Hermosa by stacking homes above commercial floors in two buildings instead of one.

Gazing ahead - Two big question marks loom over the future.

The Greenwald family, owners of the oceanfront Sea Sprite hotel, is “actively” listening to developers who hope to buy the sprawling property that dominates much of the waterfront.

More immediately, property on Hermosa Avenue north of Pier Avenue, containing the 50-year-old Hermosa Beach Donuts building, 30-year-old Classic Burger building and a parking lot, has been sold to a partnership that will either keep it as a rental investment, sell it again, or tear down the inexpensive eateries and build something new.

The sale by John and Margarita Bakolas of Hermosa Beach to Cardinal Investments is in escrow, both parties said. The buildings smell of local history and low-end cuisine; the one flipping hamburgers since it was built as JB Burgers and the other providing sugary dough and coffee since it started out as a Winchell’s.

Kyle Ransford, managing partner of Cardinal Investments said the partnership was analyzing its options, adding that an office-retail development might be in the offing if something new is built. A restaurant would not be as likely, he said.

Speaking from his Manhattan Beach office, Ransford said Cardinal prefers to “spend a little more money” developing a site and “sell it for a little more money,” rather than trying to make a fast dollar with less expensive, shabbier projects.

“We’re excited about the opportunity to make something really special,” he said, adding that Cardinal plans to work with the highly regarded Shop Architects of New York if something new is built on the Classic/Donut site.

Cardinal also brought in Hermosa architect Larry Peha to help guide the project through the city government planning process, and to advise Shop on how to make the project fit into its Hermosa Beach surroundings.

“New York is a little different than Hermosa,” Peha understated.


Nueva Hermosa, Part II


by Robb Fulcher


Peha it forward

Much of Nueva Hermosa will have Peha’s stamp. He also is updating the flat, aging façade of the Grand View Inn Hotel on 14th Street three doors up from the seaside Noble Park with a canopy-heavy “French beachside” look.

Three blocks to the south, on 11th Street, he is bringing a clean, modern facade to an 11-unit apartment complex located just west of the Subway sandwich joint. Behind the facade, builder Brian Burrescia is performing a massive renovation of the nine-decade-old building. Which is haunted.


Non-nonsense construction superintendent Bob McCracken had never seen a ghost in his 50 years, and had never thought much about them either, until he was left alone in the skeletal framework of the two-story building while the rest of the crew was off to lunch, or leaving for home, he doesn’t remember which.

He was working upstairs when he questioned whether he was alone.

“I got the feeling someone was watching me,” he said. “I was scared, really.”

He likened the sensation to walking past a car in a quiet parking garage and being surprised by the sudden, nearby barking of an unseen dog in the auto.

McCracken made his way down the staircase with the pale banister. Although it was daylight out, it was dark inside the building. He hurried the length of a narrow hallway to a door in the back of the building, and felt someone following along beside, gliding through the framing where one of the hallway walls would soon be.

“I yelled, ‘Who’s there?’” McCracken said. He turned to see a fleeting apparition.

“It was a tall shape where the wall was,” McCracken said. “It was a gray shape like 7 feet tall, just a head and a long coat.”

After the incident McCracken didn’t want to sound cracked, so he kept quiet about it. Then he heard others hint about a ghost, perhaps a seafaring sort, who haunted the place.

“I had never heard anything about a ghost before that,” he said.

When McCracken and Burrescia are done with the building, they hope to offer tenants new digs with the charm of the old building along with upgrades like air conditioning, improved window treatments, a wireless internet signal throughout, and surround-sound systems in each unit so adaptable that “you can plug your Apple iPod right in.”

The boys are restoring as many of the cool features as they can, including the original doorway and the outdoor balcony above. The wooden stairway banister, stately and pale as a ghost, will have to go, although it remains firm as rock. It turns out its too low, and people can topple over it, perhaps to become ghosts themselves.

Condo offices

Up at Second Street and PCH, plans are under way for an upscale development with 16 condo-style offices designed by architect Louie Tomaro and built by Riley Ralls. Plans call for the grade-level parking, ocean views at the upper office level, and the entire complex wired with T-1 lines.

The offices will be occupied by owners who will pay something in the $350,000 to $500,000 range, said selling agent Larry Daniels. He’s getting interest already from a mortgage lender and a real estate investor who might want to relocate there, and he envisions attorneys, local entrepreneurs and the like joining in.

“I think the beach is primed for that. From here to Palos Verdes you have so many small [office] users, people who work out of their homes.”


Nueva Hermosa, Part III


by Robb Fulcher


Upper (scale) Pier

City officials have praised the condo-office development that will replace the rubble of the torn-down "200 Building," a three-story office monolith on upper Pier Avenue at the corner of Manhattan Avenue, two blocks uphill from the Pier Plaza.

The 18,000 square-foot project by a Hermosa-based partnership, led by Bryn Stroyke of Vintage Realty, will boast cozy offices that all have been “pre-sold” to owner-occupants, many of whom live in the beach cities, as the partners hoped.

City Council members lauded the project when they unanimously approved it in October 2004, saying they had long sought more office development to balance the restaurant-heavy downtown area with “day-intensive” uses.

The owners have said the project will fill up during the day with people who will patronize the nearby restaurants and other businesses, and would empty out at night when the downtown area becomes crowded.

The condominium-style office units will be arranged for the most part in three two-story buildings terraced up the Pier Avenue hillside, with about 80 percent of the offices featuring ocean views. Six units will stand atop a parking garage under a central courtyard, and those central offices will be topped by a “rooftop plaza” with an ocean view for lunch breaks and gatherings.

“It’s designed as a little campus which is nifty, and it will take advantage of ocean views,” Hermosa Community Development Director Sol Blumenfeld said.

The complex will be equipped with self-locking bicycle racks and a locker room to make it easy for the local owners to bike to work.

The project was co-designed by Jon Starr of Starr Design Group in Hermosa and Dig Architecture Studio in Ventura. It will total 11 more units than the 200 Building and provide 17 more parking spaces, counting five that will be added to the Pier Avenue curbside.

The 200 Building was previously owned by ski movie mogul Warren Miller for 42 years. It has housed the insurance office of former city school board member Cary Bichlmeier, the civil engineering office of the late, former Councilman Jack Wood, and the erstwhile punk rock and reggae-oriented Scooter’s Records store.


City planners also like property owner Al Marco’s plans for a mixed-use project with a restaurant and executive suite-type offices where the former White and Day Mortuary building and parking lot now stand on Pier Avenue, a couple blocks uphill from the old 200 Building.

The 15,000 square-foot project is scheduled to come before the city Planning Commission later this month.

The project, on the south side of Pier Avenue, is bisected by Loma Drive. On the west side of Loma, plans call for a restaurant and “community-friendly” retail business on the ground floor, with offices above. On the east side of Loma a neighborhood-friendly business, perhaps a coffee shop, would occupy the ground floor with more offices above.

Plans call for a two-level parking garage to the south of the project, tucked away from Pier Avenue. The ground floor of the parking structure would be dug partly into the sloping earth along Loma Drive, submerging it at least a little bit.

Marco was a resident of Hermosa for about a decade, and also owns property occupied by Buono Vita restaurant and the Bow Wow Boutique on upper Pier Avenue.

“It would be a very attractive project for upper Pier Avenue,” Blumenfeld said. He also looked forward to the addition of both nearby Pier Avenue projects, replacing rubble and the moribund mortuary.

“These projects will substantially affect the look of upper Pier,” Blumenfeld said.

Pervs to pets

Blumenfeld also spoke highly of a veterinarian’s plans to set up shop where an adult book store used to hunker low along PCH near Sixth Street.

“The city will be happy to see a pet hospital,” he understated.

Mixed use

At Hermosa Avenue and First Street in the southernmost reaches of Hermosa, construction is under way on an 8,600 square-foot mixed-use building with a business downstairs and two residential condos above.

Plans filed at City Hall by Jim LaPoint of Hermosa call for a three-story building, the top two containing the residential units. The split-level residential units will be side by side, with three bedrooms and three bathrooms. The building will replace an aging daycare building that has been torn down.

Almost directly across Hermosa Avenue the Second Street Café will soon be toppled to make way for another three-story mixed-use project by Jersey Hills LLC and local architect Pat Killen with two floors housing one condo, above a commercial ground floor, tentatively set to house an architectural firm.

The condo will be located partially above the commercial space and behind the mezzanine, with four bedrooms and three and-a-half baths.

The mixed-use buildings will join a few others spread about Hermosa, including a liquor store-residential building on Hermosa Avenue at Herondo Street, a newer and larger residential-office building on Pier Avenue just east of the Java Man coffeehouse, and the venerable Green Store topped by a residential unit on Hermosa Avenue.

Big ticket item

The tongues of Realtors continue to wag with speculation about the fate of the big, juicy Sea Sprite Hotel property, which dominates much of the central Hermosa waterfront. Although the property is not listed with Realtors, the Greenwald family has been seeking to sell.

“Several developers have been contacting us and we are actively going to be listening to them,” Thelma Greenwald said.

Developers have been showing up at City Hall as well, asking what sort of plans would be encouraged if they can swing a deal with the Greenwalds.

“Several developers have shown interest in that property,” Blumenfeld said.

City officials encourage developers to include a hotel in any plans they might hatch. A hotel would be consistent with state coastal requirements to serve visitors, Blumenfeld said. In addition, the visitors’ “bed tax” collected from recently-built hotels across Hermosa has helped the city recoup revenues lost when auto dealers left town to relocate at larger inland properties.

Blumenfeld said anyone developing a new hotel on the Sea Sprite would have to buy additional commercial property to the north of the Sea Sprite land to have room for the parking that would be required for a new hotel. The more expensive land directly to the south is zoned for homes.

New hotel on hold

Three years ago city officials announced plans for an upscale hotel and spa where a small parking lot and four homes now stand along 14th Street between Hermosa Avenue and the Beach House Inn. Since then nothing has happened, but the owner of the properties said plans are still on for the hotel building, which is now set to include retail and office spaces over about one-third of its 21,000 square feet.

“It’s just that I’ve been busy with other projects,” said property owner Norma Navarro, a local resident.

“In the fall we’ll start moving forward with the next steps, so in a few years it will be a beautiful structure and something wonderful for the city, and I think the residents will appreciate it,” she said.

New hotel on the way

Mar Ventures Inc. of Torrance plans an upscale hotel in north Hermosa, on PCH at 30th Street in north Hermosa, where BMW used to sell cars. Plans call for a 72-unit project featuring a restaurant and pool, and a pedestrian bridge across 30th Street where the hotel lobby would be located on property where a parking lot now sits.

The hotel property would stretch from 30th Street along the west side of PCH to a small Lotus sports car dealer, which occupies a small portion of the land that belonged to BMW the dealership. ER



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