Seizing the moment, City Council President Eric Garcetti admitted Wednesday for the first time that there’s problems with the controversial Hal Katersky CRA-subsidized office project at 1601 N. Vine St. in Hollywood.
Garcetti brought the issue to the Council floor 12 times in less than six months and each time blinked and continued it. Last week, he sent it back to the Housing and Economic Development Committee which sent it back to the Council without any recommedation.
In Public Comment before the full Council, Wayne Spindler spelled out many of the issues that have been raised by community activists and bloggers, prompting Garcetti to respond.
“If we can’t get some answers out of what happened with CRA . . . we certainly ren’t going to move things forward until we understand what happened there,”Garcetti said, putting the project on life support.
What he should do is call Community Redevelopment Agency officials before the Council, release all documents regarding the project and demand hard answers about every aspect of this dirty deal.
Katersky, CEO of Santa Monica-based Pacifica Ventures that specializes in profiteering from runaway film and TV production, has a long record of his projects becoming tied up in bankruptcy, lawsuits and controversy.
He bought the property, home to a parking lot and Molly’s hamburger stand, in 2006 from another controversial beneficiary of CRA subsidies, Ullman Investments, and then flipped it a month later to the CRA for the same price, $5.45 million, and immediately got CRA agreement to begin negotiations to buy it back for $825,000 .– a gift of $4.6 million in public money to a questionable developer for an unneeded office building.