Happy days are here for Mrs. Kwok Yi, proprietor of Molly’s Burgers in Hollywood.
She has shaken down the Community Redevelopment Agency and Hal Katersky, the self-styled mogul for “first-class, technologically advanced
Back in June with the City Council set to approved the CRA’s dirty deal with Katersky for an
The upshot of her play was to stall the Council approval for five months while the CRA came up with $650,000 and Katersky.$450,000 to get her to go away. The CRA Board is set to sign off on the settlement (CRA-VineSt.rtf) at its 10 a.m.Thursday, 1200 West 7th St. and well as approving seven supergraphic signs on the massive mixed-use project proposed for Hollywood near the Pantages Theater..
That will set the stage for the Council to rubber stamp the sale of the property to Katersky’s and Dana Arnold’s firm Pacifica Ventures and its partner Workers Realty Trust — a forgiving lender that was thwarted from foreclosing on Katersky’s bankrupt Albuquerque Studios, one of his several efforts to profit from runaway production killing jobs in LA.
Pacifica, long troubled by lawsuits and bankruptcy issues, wants to build an “8-story LEED Gold, Class A office building containing approximately 108,324 square feet of gross leasable area, including 2,012 square feet of ground floor retail space, and a 194-space 5-level subterranean parking garage” at 1601 N. Vine St.
The property is being sold to Katersky’s partnership for $825,000 by the CRA — $4,625,000 less than the agency paid for it just four years ago.
The seller then was none other than Katersky, meaning that $4,625,000 is nothing but a gift of public money, tax dollars that the CRA diverts from the general fund to enrich developers, trash our neighborhoods and exhaust our resources.
What adds to the stench of this deal is Katersky bought the property from Ullman Investments in September 2006 and flipped it to the CRA just one month later for the same price he paid, $5,450,000.
There may have been good reason why the CRA chose to buy the property from Katersky rather than Ullman.
Back in October 2000, then City Controller Rick Tuttle followed up on an LA Times article with an audit raising questions about the sale by Ullman Investments of a Hollywood property on Argyle Street to the CRA for nearly $1.5 million for a parking lot for Capitol Records.
The audit found CRA staff gave the City Council the “erroneous impression” that multiple appraisals had been conducted confirming the purchase price when in fact the only appraisal valued it at $795,000.
The same suspicion exists about the CRA inflating the purchase price for 1601 N. Vine four years ago.
The cost to the public doesn’t end there.. The CRA estimates the city’s property tax revenue when
In its usual manner, the CRA doesn’t explore any of the negative impacts of this project but claims it will have numerous benefits such as 483 “permanent jobs created.”
Where do the jobs come from?
The CRA doesn’t say, but defines the justification for using public money to subsidize this project is to provide office space for
“Hollywood is at a major disadvantage when large
“Consequently, many of these firms locate in Santa
So is there really a shortage of office space for
Clearly, there are numerous questions about this deal that have been raised in the press and online.
You can read what Jack Humphreville has written on City Watch LA here and here and here, my original post here and a provocative article by Richard Lee Abrams suggesting the need for charter reform so the City Attorney can investigate “fraud, embezzlement, bribery, or other felonies
by the mayor and council members.”
He suggested a dozen possible areas worthy of investigation including this: “Why does the CRA pretend in public that Hal Katersky and Dana Arnold
were the owners of 1601 N. Vine, when CRA told its consultant KMA that
it bought the property from Steve Ullman?”
He’s referring to a Jan. 8, 2008 email exchange obtained by community activists in Hollywood between Desiree Estrada of the consulting firm Keyser Marston Associates and Franco Pacelli of the CRA.
Estrada asked: “Okay, so that I’m clear.The CRA purchased the site from Pacific Ventures?”
Apart from misleading its consultant, the CRA knew full well that it was dealing with Ullman Investments on this deal.
That’s why so many who have tracked what has happened believe the Council must put off approval until there is a full and complete investigation of every aspect of the CRA’s involvement in this giveaway of public money at 1601 N. Vine St.