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City Council approves new rules for Target construction

LOS ANGELES — The City Council approved new planning rules May 4 aimed at allowing construction to resume on a Target store in East Hollywood that has stood half-built for more than a year due to legal challenges.

Target spokeswoman Erika Winkels said the company is “thrilled” by the City Council’s decision, which “allows us to take steps to resume construction for this important project.”

“Target is committed to the new store on Sunset Boulevard and we will continue to work closely with city officials and the community as we begin resuming construction,” Winkels said.

The unfinished skeleton of the building at Sunset Boulevard and Western Avenue has drawn notice and is the subject of a Facebook page, “Target Husk,” that was set up to poke fun at what many view as an eyesore.

Hollywood area City Councilman Mitch O’Farrell said the completion of the Target project would “activate that very important commercial corner of Sunset Boulevard and Western Avenue in Hollywood.”

The project has “overwhelming community support” and will bring jobs and tax revenue for the city, he said.

“It is time to look forward and not back,” O’Farrell said.

The Target project originally was approved by the City Council in 2012, with construction beginning soon after. Work was halted in August 2014 by a judge who sided with the La Mirada Avenue Neighborhood Association and other project opponents.

By the time the project’s approval was overturned in court and a judge had ordered construction to stop in 2014, much of the Target was built.

The council’s action last week approved amended planning guidelines aimed at allowing the project to be restarted, but those changes could face a fresh legal challenge.

Citizen Coalition Los Angeles, one of the groups that successfully stopped the project, and another group, Hollywoodians Encouraging Logical Planning (HELP), plan to file a lawsuit challenging the newly approved rules, said their attorney Richard MacNaughton.

The changes should have undergone environmental review, which did not happen, MacNaughton contends.

“The law requires an environmental impact study when they make a major change in a specific plan and they didn’t do one, and I have no idea why they didn’t do one,” he said.

MacNaughton also said the citizens coalition is open to a project that follows the previous planning rules that limits its height to 35 feet. The half-constructed building is about 75 feet tall.

“If Target wanted to simply take down what’s there now and build a store that applies” to the 35-foot rule, “we would certainly be agreeable to that and the store they originally planned could be constructed and be finished easily within a year,” he said. “But the city won’t even discuss the possibility.”

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