|By Martha Groves, Los Angeles
TimesMcClatchy-Tribune Regional News
July 22, 2011--The owner of the Century Plaza hotel Thursday outlined a $2-billion proposal that calls for rehabilitating the Century City landmark as hotel space and condos and building two 46-story, mixed-use towers and a public plaza.
The proposal, contained in a draft environmental impact report, marks a victory for preservationists, whose staunch opposition to initial plans to raze the concave modernist structure persuaded developer Next Century Associates to reconsider. The project would maintain the hotel's eligibility for listing as a city historic-cultural monument.
Under the developer's preferred plan, the existing hotel's 726 rooms would be converted to 394 rooms and 63 condominiums. The two new towers would contain 290 condos, 94,000 square feet of retail and restaurant space, and up to 100,000 square feet of office space.
The Los Angeles Conservancy and the National Trust for Historic Preservation, whose representatives met with the developer dozens of times over the last year, expressed support for the project. It would preserve the Minoru Yamasaki-designed building, which has hosted numerous political, social and cultural events since it opened in 1966.
Opposition to the project remains. Some area residents say the development will worsen congestion. Mike Eveloff, a spokesman for a coalition of nearby homeowners groups, said existing infrastructure -- such as streets and fire and police service -- is over-burdened. "Adding more load is throwing gasoline on a fire to put it out," he said.
In a bid to make the 5.74-acre site more pedestrian friendly, the owner plans to fill in the sunken plaza in front of the hotel on Avenue of the Stars. Two low-slung pavilions with landscaping and fountains would connect the hotel to the street. The hotel lobby's glass windows would be removed to create a breezeway through the property, and a slightly smaller ballroom would replace the existing room.
Pei Cobb Freed & Partners designed the master plan.
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