May 30th at WVRC - lots of visitors

Perhaps it was because we had a controversial subject, but for whatever reason, we did have a bunch of visitors - I'll get to them shortly.  There was of course applause when Pres. GEORGE pointed out that he only had two more meetings to go. Then PP JIM COLLINS led the Pledge, and LENNY FRIEDMAN and GREGG ELLIOTT combined for the song - Let There Be Peace On Earth.  We struggled through this manfully, but as LENNY pointed out, we did finish together.  SALLY BRANT provided the Invocation, which also rhymed.

BILL EDWARDS introduced our Visiting Rotarian, Gulent Yildiz, from the Rotary Club of Ankara Ulus - he is a physician, and presently serves as Club Secretary.  Someone - was it DAN PRICE? - couldn't resist pointing out that Gulent and PP DOUG DESCH talked TURKEY before the meeting…  PP RON LYSTER had three guests - Laura Lake, who is known to many of us, Terry Tegnasian and Mike Metcalf, all of whom are Westwood Village activists.  He also brought Margaret Souders, who was representing Westwood Horizons, the large apartment in the same block as the now-Ralph's building. PETER MORE brought Shirley, who is going to serve a second term as Rotary Auxiliary President - Congratulations, Shirley!  LENNY FRIEDMAN was with Sunny, so she witnessed his fine.  Seems the two of them attended the GIA (Gemological Institute of America) meeting in Orange County a few days ago, and LENNY was fingered for attending a cocktail party there.  It cost him a hundred clams - and that's an expensive 'free' drink, LENNY…

PP HOWIE HENKES introduced our newest member, Al Bellanca.  Al is a semi-retired CPA, was sponsored by PP JIM SUMNER, and apparently in the not-too-distance past they were golfers together.  JIM, bringing in TWO new members is special - thanks for your continuing efforts. SHERRY DEWANE introduced her Ambassadorial Scholar, Letitia Pansanel.  Letitia comes from Montpellier, France, and was selected for the excellent graduate program at USC, her field being Music Scoring for Film. There were over 200 applicants for the 23 slots available, so she is quite talented - she spoke briefly, and showed a video in which she had composed the music.  Letitia is another example of the high quality of students who participate in our Ambassadorial Scholarship program.  You probably know that these scholarships are better than a Fullbright, for instance - so keep your eyes peeled for local candidates, please.

STEW GILMAN next introduced Lt. Col. Philip Barnett, who is C.O. of the UCLA Army ROTC.  Col. Barnett reported that ROTC at UCLA is doing well, and then he presented Cadet Daniel McDonough with our gift to this outstanding cadet - a sword, and when he pulled it out of it's scabbard, it sure looked sharp! Cadet McDouough will be commissioned next month, and has selected the Infantry as his branch of service.  We have some good news about DAVE MORE. He is out of Intensive Care, and now on the fifth floor at the VA hospital in WLA.

BILL EDWARDS was up again, this time to introduce our Speaker, Howard Katz.  Mr. Katz. an attorney, joined Casden Properties a year ago, and has 21 years of experience in the field of land use, construction and environmental law. Prior to his formal association, he was a consultant for numerous Casden projects over the last 15 years.  His experience includes serving as lead land use attorney in several local shopping centers in Los Angeles, including Westside Pavilion, the Beverly Connection, and the renovations of the Century City Shopping Center.

Casden Properties purchased the side in Westwood Village two years ago.  They are proposing the construction of 350 apartments plus 115,000 feet of retail space, under the name of Palazzo Westwood.  The retail space will be street level, or below, and the apartments will be five story units over this space. The apartments will consist of one bedroom (720 sq.ft), two bedrooms (1000-1200 sq. ft.)  and three bedrooms.  Rental fees will average $2.50 per square foot.  Entry and exit to parking for the apartments will be from Tiverton, and retail parking will be accessed from Glendon.  A large street-level health center will be located at the corner of Tiverton and Weyburn, for the use of those in the apartment complex.

Casden is aware that there are questions from nearby property owners about this project.  A major concern is the overall height of Palazzo.  The site slopes downward from the intersection of Weyburn and Glendon. Opponents are saying that total height must be measured from the highest point of the project to its lowest point, which is about 75 feet.  However, if measured from ground level the height is approximately 55 to 60 feet, depending upon architecture.  There will be 1450 parking spaces, half to each use. This comes to four spaces for each 1000 feet of retail space, and an average of two spaces for each apartment.

When compared to previous planned developments, Palazzo has several advantages.  Nansay proposed 350 hotel rooms, apartments and condominiums for a total of 413 living spaces, plus banquet and conference facilities.   Smedra proposed 387,711 square feet for an entertainment center with 242 units of senior housing. Palazzo includes no movie theatres, and they believe more residential and less commercial space will be a good trade off as far as street traffic is concerned.  If finally approved, they expect to begin construction next spring, and this will mean closure of Glendon for the first year of construction.  They will request permission to tear down the 1929 apartment building now standing, approximately across Glendon from the
Moustache Café.

Questions (and I'm sorry, but authors are not noted).  What's in it for Westwood - the property taxes will all go into the city general fund? The Palazzo brochure points out that this project "will enhance the Village's pedestrian environment" which is certainly needed.  It will be attractive architecturally, whereas the present surface parking is an eyesore.  Does it fit into the Westwood Specific Plan guidelines?  There are trade-offs, and note that the Plan was drafted some time ago, primarily to control hotel use, which is not an issue here. What will be the cost?  Well over $100 million.

And in summary, Mr. Katz points out that Casden needs it to be an attractive project if it is to succeed in attracting both residential and retail tenants.  I'm sure those who oppose the project will get equal time in one of our programs soon.

                                YOE, Ernie.Wolfe