By SARAH SHMERLING | Editor-in-Chief
During its most recent board meeting on June 24, the Pacific Palisades Community Council welcomed Thomas Tellefsen, who provided an update on the Gladstones redevelopment project on behalf of the concessionaire, PCH Beach Associates LLC.
Chef Wolfgang Puck first won the support of the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors in his bid to replace Gladstones in April 2018.
“Although we are creating what most likely will become a world-renowned iconic landmark—the only Frank Gehry-designed, Wolfgang Puck-operated restaurant ever built—the most important element of that effort is the relationship we have established and can establish with the Pacific Palisades community,” Tellefsen, who has lived in the Palisades with his wife for a number of years, shared at the start of the presentation.
Due to delays caused by COVID-19, Tellefsen was not able to share graphics during the PPCC meeting, but he explained a history of the project, which included PCH Beach Associates being selected by the county of Los Angeles for this project in an RFP process.
After negotiating an agreement with the county to provide the group with the opportunity to move forward with exploring the possibility of the project, Tellefsen explained the next step in the phase was due diligence, including site investigations, taking a look at title, taking a look at sea level rise, and meeting with Caltrans, the Coastal Commission, Big Blue Bus and Metro.
PCH Beach Associates then reached a point where they could assess both viability of the project, as well as review what they thought they knew from the RFP, learning from the process what adjustments needed to be made.
“Then COVID hit and COVID obviously suspended pretty much everything as far as any redesign work is concerned and any entitlement work is concerned,” Tellefsen said. “However during the COVID time period, we did take advantage of that to negotiate finalizing future documentation with the county.”
Eventually, the project will be built and operate under a 50-year term agreement, which will need to be finalized and brought before the Board of Supervisors, as well as the option agreement. Tellefsen explained that they will also have to undertake a CEQA process between now and the meeting with the Board of Supervisors, as well as submit a land use application.
After the Board of Supervisors hearing, which will be a public hearing, the next step would be to apply for a coastal development permit with the Coastal Commission.
“That process then will take whatever time it takes,” Tellefsen explained. “We’re hoping that because there is an existing restaurant there and because our restaurant is actually going to be smaller in scope than that restaurant, which is Gladstones, that there shouldn’t be much controversy, or we’re hoping there’s not too much controversy.”
Tellefsen explained that one of the things that was done during the early phases of the project was hosting a community meeting at Palisades Village, where the team shared what they were envisioning for the project at that point in time.
“That vision is very much what we’re proceeding with, we just have to make adjustments to the design because of the outcome of the site investigations and the due diligence process,” Tellefsen said, “but at the end of the day, we intend to deliver what we claimed and represented what we wanted to deliver in the RFP. It’s going to be, we think, a very special restaurant and place here for the community.”
Tellefsen then took questions from board members, including PPCC Area 1 Representative Joanna Spak, who raised concerns about noise and light issues related to the restaurant. Tellefsen responded that he had previously heard those concerns and is attempting to address them in the redesign.
“We’re aware of those concerns and are working to try to resolve them in hopefully a manner that will be satisfactory,” he said.
A second question came from PPCC Transportation Advisor Patti Post, seeking information about whether a bus turnaround in the parking lot, a feature the community has long-requested, is still something that is feasible and likely to be included in plans. Tellefsen said that it was their “full intent” to include that in the parking lot of the project.
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