Sunday, April 5, 2009

120 Units Proposed for Menlo Property, But The Wall Will Not Come Down

Photo: Diane Edwardson, November 1, 2007. The Menlo Property, Riverside Drive north of Fletcher. (Click on photo to enlarge.)

Sam Menlo, convicted slumlord, submitted an application to build 120 condo units on his Riverside Drive property north of Fletcher. It's being handled by City Planning's Expedited Case Unit. Representatives of Menlo's Century Quality Management will present plans to Silver Lake Neighborhood Council's Urban Design & Preservation Advisory Committee (SLNC UD&PAC) at their next meeting:

Tuesday April 7, 2009
SLNC Office
2898 Rowena Ave. #101
Los Angeles, 90039

Remarkably, Menlo has no intention of removing the giant retaining wall towering above pedestrians on Riverside Drive. Instead, the wall will remain as is, along with the compacted slope behind it as "open space."
Photo: Maryann Kuk, April 25, 2000. Menlo Property on Riverside Drive north of Fletcher, note the steel rebar sticking out of the ground on the far end of the half-finished retaining wall. (Click on photo to enlarge.)

Since the mid-1980's, what's become known as the Menlo Property on Riverside Drive north of Fletcher has been controversial. The history is almost as long as the Red Car Property's (south of Fletcher). Over the next week, we'll look at the highlights of the past 20+ years.

According to the City's Department of Building & Safety files on the property, in 1987, Hartwood Development Inc. secured grading and building permits to build 288 apartment units in three buildings on Riverside Drive between Fletcher and Glendale Blvd. Construction began on the River Glen Apartments closer to Glendale Blvd soon thereafter.

The second phase was closer to Fletcher, and was to include a 900-foot long, approximately 30-foot high retaining wall, built right up against the sidewalk. Atop the retaining wall would sit a 35-foot high apartment building. Letters from neighbors and Silver Lake Residents Association meeting notes describe the proposed wall and structure as prison-like.

Work soon began on the wall which remained half finished for more than a decade. A Building & Safety report dated July 20, 2000, talks about exposed rebar, mountains of plastic-covered uncompacted fill dirt and an unsecured site remaining unchanged from a report dated February 21, 1991.

Menlo acquired the property in 1992. Throughout the 1990's, Menlo kept saying he would build the approved plan, even though the approvals had expired. For years, Menlo ignored the Orders to Comply issued by Building & Safety to restore the slope to its original condition.

Coming tomorrow: graffiti-covered black plastic slopes and neighborhood activism.
See also: Legacy of Failed Development