On Christmas Day 2013, the Warner Center 2035 Specific Plan went into effect. Developers from across the region and around the world could not have hoped for a better gift from the city of Los Angeles.
Passed by the LA City Council in fall 2013, the Warner Center 2035 Specific Plan is an ordinance that guides land use and redevelopment of the Warner Center neighborhood of Woodland Hills.
About 100 residents and union members attended a meeting hosted by the LA Department of City Planning on February 13, to hear a status report and state their objections (See related article on page 10).
The plan jettisons density restrictions and height limits, encourages high-rise development and shared parking, while granting streamlined entitlements and processing of projects filed by applicants. The building boom is attracting developers and investors from as far away as Canada, China, France, and Texas. (Refer to the list of “Selected Warner Center Projects” that follows.)
With ten large projects underway and several more approved or proposed, LA Department of City Planning began a five-year review in December, when it was required to submit a status report to City Hall within 90 days of the plan’s five-year anniversary.
Planning officials gave a presentation at the board meeting of the Woodland Hills–Warner Center Neighborhood Council (WHWCNC) on Wednesday, February 13, that included Westfield’s proposed 15,000-seat roofless sports and concert stadium for the corner of Topanga Canyon and Oxnard—to make their voices heard.
THE NUMBERS TELL THE TALE
Warner Center occupies 1.5 square miles in Woodland Hills, bounded by the US-101 on the south, the LA River on the north, Topanga Canyon Blvd. and DeSoto Avenue on the west and east, respectively.
The planners designated eight subdistricts—Topanga (a strip along Topanga Canyon Blvd., River, Uptown, North Village, College, Commerce, Park, and Downtown—where 19,000 new residential units are planned in addition to Warner Center’s 2008 baseline of 6,200, something critics say is an extreme density for a community with such hot summers, inadequate public transit, and little open space.
Twenty-eight significant projects have been filed so far under the Specific Plan, 15 of which have been approved. All but three of the 28 projects have a residential component, with no affordable units proposed. Eighteen of the 28 projects mix residential units with office, commercial, retail, and/or entertainment uses.
There are 1,998 market-rate units under construction in Warner Center, with 379 of them nearly finished in a college subdistrict complex on Oxnard. A studio apartment at that development starts at $2,130 a month.
The 13 projects filed with the city, not yet approved, offer 6,089 luxury or market-rate residential units. No new major employer has yet committed to relocating to the district. Four of the not-yet-approved projects are “mega” developments:
- Unibail-Rodamco-Westfield’s redevelopment of the 34-acre Promenade Mall property. URW, based in Paris, was formed in 2018 when commercial-retail developer Unibail-Rodamco purchased the Australian company, Westfield, and retained the brand name, according to the company website.
- Adler Realty Investments’ redevelopment of a 24-acre corporate office park on the corner of Burbank and De Soto, which also proposes at least four towers;
- Sandstone Properties’ proposed 25- and 27-story luxury residential towers on Canoga;
- Spieker Realty Investments’ 17.6-acre proposed luxury, mixed-use development for seniors at Canoga and Burbank.
A fifth project to be determined, on the former Rocketdyne property, awaits the completion of ongoing remediation of toxic contamination. Sixty years of aerospace research and manufacturing on the 47-acre property between Victory and Vanowen left an underground toxic plume of tetrachloroethene, total petroleum hydrocarbons, and trichloroethylene in the soil, soil vapor, and groundwater. The Los Angeles Regional Water Quality Control Board (LARWQCB) tracks the progress of ongoing remediation.
As the plan stands, there are no mandates for affordable housing, a new police station, publicly owned parks, schools, or libraries.
Councilmember Bob Blumenfield (CD3), however, recognizing the need for mixed-income housing in Warner Center, passed a motion last May to study the feasibility of including an affordable-housing requirement in the Specific Plan moving forward. The process to craft this policy is ongoing.
PUBLIC COMMENT IS OPEN UNTIL MARCH 1
To become part of the public record, written comments must be submitted by March 1, 2019.
Email Warner Center 2035 Plan Unit Head Tim Fargo, email@example.com, and copy Councilmember Bob Blumenfield, Council District 3, firstname.lastname@example.org; LA City Council President Herb Wesson, email@example.com; and LA Director of Planning Vince Bertoni, firstname.lastname@example.org.
Written comments may also be mailed to Tim Fargo, Warner Center 2035 Specific Plan Status Report, 6262 Van Nuys Blvd., 4th Floor, Room 430, Van Nuys, CA 91401.
The City Planning Commission meeting on the Warner Center 2035 Specific Plan will be March 28.
Access the complete Warner Center 2035 Specific Plan.
SELECTED WARNER CENTER PROJECTS
This list of significant projects in Warner Center includes those under construction, proposed, and approved. The geographic location of the developer, when available, is provided in parentheses or included in the project’s description.
MEGA-PROJECTS NOT YET APPROVED
Promenade 2035 Project, 6100 N. Topanga Canyon Blvd. Mixed-use redevelopment of the 34-acre Promenade Mall property proposes 23 buildings ranging from one to 28 stories plus a 15,000-seat entertainment and sports stadium. Proposed are 1,432 luxury apartments, 244,000 square feet of retail space, 629,000 square feet of office space, two hotels with 572 guest rooms, and a 15,000-seat roofless stadium, according to the executive summary of the draft SEIR.
Among the 23 buildings are seven towers: two high-rises with 28 floors; one with 19; two with 18 plus roof decks; and two with 15; according to a plot plan from Westfield. Phased construction over 13 to 15 years will move in a counterclockwise order from the northeast corner around to the southeast corner of the site.
The LA Department of City Planning is working on its response to the many comments submitted as part of the public comment period on the draft Supplemental Environmental Impact Report (SEIR). The final Environmental Impact Report (EIR) will likely be issued in the spring.
20920–21051 Warner Center Lane and 20931–20971 Burbank Blvd. Adler Realty Investments (Woodland Hills), a 10-year redevelopment of a 24-acre corporate office park at the corner of Burbank and De Soto. Proposed here are 10 buildings encompassing 1,029 luxury residential units, a 228-room hotel, 168 luxury condominiums, and 1.25 million square feet of commercial, office, and retail space. In the mix are four office towers, including one with 24 stories.
6366/6400/6410 Canoga Avenue. Sandstone Properties (Los Angeles), 610 residential units plus 62,560 square feet of nonresidential floor area in two towers, 25 and 27 stories, respectively.
5500 Canoga Avenue. Spieker Realty Investments LLC (Menlo Park), 566 independent-living units, 129 guest rooms, and retail on 17.6 acres adjacent to US-101, 6 stories. This 1,269,592-square-foot mixed-use eldercare complex would offer memory care, assisted living, and skilled nursing care, as well as 231,184 square feet of nonresidential uses. Soil and groundwater contamination on the site is being investigated by the Los Angeles Regional Water Quality Control Board (LARWQCB).
PROJECTS TO BE DETERMINED
6633 Canoga Avenue. 47 acres, located on the former Rocketdyne site. The Plan calls for thousands of residential units in a mixed-use development that could include commercial, industrial, and retail buildings. The sale of the property to Edmonton, Canada–based Triple Five Group is almost complete. Ongoing remediation of the toxic plume under the site is being monitored by the LARWQCB.
MIXED-USE DEVELOPMENTS UNDER CONSTRUCTION
6041 Variel Avenue. BCEGI International Company (Beijing), 263 apartments and 11 live-work units in seven stories; 66,504-square-foot, 12-story commercial tower; 484 parking spaces in a two-level above-grade parking garage and one story of subterranean parking.
Q West, 6263 Topanga Canyon Blvd. California Home Builders (Canoga Park), 347 luxury apartment units, two levels of underground parking, a ground floor with offices and retail spaces, seven stories.
Q East, northeast corner of Erwin and Variel (6200 Variel). California Home Builders, 241 luxury apartments, 46,345 square feet of ground-floor commercial and retail space, seven stories.
6801 N. Canoga Avenue/21407 W. Vanowen St. Panoptic Development (Pasadena), 150 apartments on five stories above 8,094 square feet of ground-floor retail space, 31 parking spaces on first level, two levels of subterranean parking, total six stories.
21121 Vanowen St., Yaya Vanowen (Los Angeles). 101 apartments, 3,777 square feet of ground-floor retail, parking is subterranean, seven stories.
Vela on OX, 21221 Oxnard Street. Fairfield Residential (San Diego), 379 luxury apartments, including live/work units, five stories. This project is near completion. The developer also has entitlement for a 71,000-square-foot office tower to be built at a later date.
RESIDENTIAL-ONLY DEVELOPMENTS UNDER CONSTRUCTION
Skye at Warner Center. 20944 Vanowen, Adler Realty Investments, the Quillin Group (Calabasas), and Strategic Realty Holdings (Calabasas), 38 one- and two-bedroom apartments, parking is underground, six stories.
21425 Vanowen. CityView (Los Angeles), 174 one- and two-bedroom apartments, street-level and basement parking together hold 258 parking spaces, six stories.
Evolution Warner Center, 6606 Variel. Evolution Strategic Partners (Studio City), 277 apartments, including live/work units, 309 parking spots, seven stories.
6800 Variel, California Home Builders, 18 condominium units, parking is on ground floor, five stories.
ADJACENT TO WARNER CENTER
22055–22121 Clarendon Street, AMCAL Equities (Texas), 335 market-rate apartments, five stories. On the site of the old Woodland Hills Post Office, it is a few hundred feet from Topanga Canyon Blvd.
APPROVED COMMERCIAL DEVELOPMENT, NOT BEGUN
Former Sears Building at Westfield Topanga Mall, 21851 Victory, U-R-W (Paris), this redevelopment includes eight restaurants with up to 3,800 seats; a food hall with 1,600 seats; and nine luxury movie theatres.
5957 Variel, Home 2 Suites by Hilton, FPG Development Group (Florida), 174 guest rooms with retail at ground floor, seven stories.
APPROVED RESIDENTIAL DEVELOPMENT, NOT BEGUN
6233–6279 Variel, SBLP Warner Center, LLC (Dallas), senior housing complex, including 197 independent housing units, 94 assisted-living, 32 memory-care rooms, 7 stories. The developer has asked for a 26% parking reduction, or 286 parking spaces for the complex.
PROPOSED LARGE PROJECTS, NOT YET APPROVED
6109 De Soto, California Home Builders, 358-unit luxury residential mixed-use complex with 69,598 square feet of nonresidential space, seven stories. Two levels of parking, one at street level and one underground, will offer 615 spaces.
21300 Califa Street, California Home Builders, 194 market-rate apartment units and 19,041 square feet of commercial space in the first phase, and 191,950 square feet of office space in a 24-story tower in the second phase.
21201 Victory Blvd, Levine Family Properties LLC (Montecito), 244 market-rate apartment units, including 61 work-live units, with 50,550 square feet of nonresidential space, 219 parking spaces, seven stories.
The Q on Erwin, Southeast corner of Erwin and Variel (6140–6160 N. Variel). California Home Builders, 260 luxury apartments, 51,684 square feet of nonresidential uses, 493 parking spaces, seven stories.
6330/6338/6340 Variel. Variel Court L.P., 395 residential units, including seven live/work units, 8,100 square feet of commercial and retail, 81,650-square-foot office tower, 625 parking spaces in three levels (one is underground), eight stories (residential), ten stories (office tower).
21300 Oxnard. 21300 Oxnard LLC, 134 assisted-living and memory-care residential units, 143,824 square feet of medical office and commercial space, six stories.
21001 Kittridge. FF Realty IV, LLC (San Diego), 275 luxury apartments, 418 parking spaces, five stories.
6636 Variel/21050 Kittridge. Hanover R. S. Limited Partnership (Houston), 394 residential units.
21515 Vanowen, 21515 Vanowen Street Associates LLC, 184 apartments.
The Zone Information and Map Access System (ZIMAS.lacity.org); case reports, Planning, Land Use and Mobility (PLUM) Committee of the WHWCNC; LA Department of City Planning; GeoTracker of the State Water Resources Control Board; environmental impact reports; San Fernando Valley Business Journal; Urbanize LA; LA Curbed; the Real Deal; and the January 30 public meeting hosted in Van Nuys by the LA Department of City Planning on the five-year status report on the specific plan.
Gina K. Thornburg, PhD, is a geographer, writer, editor, and community activist based in Woodland Hills. She serves as the at-large alternate on the WHWCNC board. Any views expressed in this article are hers alone and do not reflect the opinions of other board members.