June 17, 2024 The Best Source of News, Culture, Lifestyle for Culver City, Mar Vista, Del Rey, Palms and West Los Angeles

Green Hollow Square: Thinking Ahead

The final environmental impact report (FEIR) on the Charlie Munger project (Green Hollow Square) is expected to arrive some time next month.
Opponents are putting fliers on cars in the neighborhood, calling for a downsizing of the project (see www.downsizegreenhollowsquare.org). I think it’s encouraging that this group is calling for a downsizing, and not an outright ban, on the proposed project. This implies that maybe there’s room for those for and against the project to meet somewhere in the middle.
Unless something has changed, Charlie Munger is fairly adamant that the Barry Building, where Duttons was, be completely razed to make room for the new project. Though the Barry Building is indeed fairly moth-eaten, surely there’s a way for creative architects and builders to spruce it up and incorporate this Brentwood icon into some bigger, cool design. It feels like this is a project that could benefit mightily from a jolt of imagination.
I could see knocking down the horizontal part in the center of the second floor that faces San Vicente, creating kind of a “horseshoe†entryway; right now, like many buildings facing San Vicente, the front is a bit “fortress†-like.
Maybe the bottom floor of the back section could also be taken out, making it easy for pedestrians to enter the bigger project that would be built behind and around the Barry Building.
Opponents will likely push to see that the Barry Building not be touched at all, arguing it has historically protected significance. If there’s a way to save maybe two-thirds of the existing structure, maybe that would be good enough.
Another issue opponents raise is that, in order to facilitate traffic, traffic consultants hired by the developer are talking about cutting through the median strip on San Vicente, possibly causing the removal of some Coral Trees.
It seems to me that if this becomes necessary, which it likely will if we’re to avoid a logjam in front of the new project, Charlie Munger can afford to hire a big helicopter (or two or three) to lift up and move the affected trees, either to another location on the median strip or somewhere within the new project. No trees need be lost.
And maybe Charlie would be willing to make a big contribution to the new foundation that’s raising money for the care of the Coral Trees. That would represent a nice win for the community and its beloved trees.
Even if all parties can work out their differences using a give-and-take approach, the name “Green Hollow Square†still strikes me as dumb. I much prefer Brentwood Commons.
A “common†or “commons†implies a pedestrian-friendly gathering place, something sorely missing in Brentwood. I think a theater within the complex that could double-up as a place to hold community meetings would be outstanding; building a grassy outdoor park on top of the building would be most welcome as well.
And just because the land is fairly square, does that mean the building must be as well? I could see an oval building with lots of open space in the middle.
Let’s hope it’s not too late to envision and build a retail center of which Brentwood can truly be proud.
Letting the place sit empty for years on end does not seem like a happy outcome. Whatever one thinks of Charlie Munger and his project, he has the wherewithal to make something happen in this location, and he’s raring to go, right now. Charlie won’t be with us forever; it would be a tragedy to squander the opportunity that sits in front of us today.
Should nothing go forward now, it might take years for something else to replace it. And when some other project finally does come along, it might be something truly awful. Let’s put on our creative thinking caps. Let’s think win-win, Brentwood. Let’s make something good happen.

With this issue, Brentwood News turns 20. It doesn’t feel like much of a cause for celebration; we remain very much in “hunker down†mode. Local businesses continue to cry the blues. Alas, that translates into fewer advertising pages, which keep us alive.
As Thanksgiving approaches, I want to once again thank those of you who have sent in contributions to our “Brentwood Boosters Club.†We’ve been pleasantly surprised how a little here and a little there really adds up, spelling the difference between survival – and the alternative.
If you are so inclined, we’d love it if you’d send something to: Brentwood News, 149 So. Barrington Ave., Box 452, LA, CA 90049. Thanks!

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