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Saturday, Feb 4, 2023

New Address For Post Office?

There are new plans for the post office in Woodland Hills – and they don’t include boxes or stamps. Rather, a 300-unit apartment complex. The property at 22131 Clarendon St. is owned by investor James Gortikov of Encino, who has informed the U.S. Postal Service of his intent to redevelop the property once the lease expires in May 2017. The broad outlines of development for the site were announced to the Planning and Land Use Committee of the Warner Center-Woodland Hills Neighborhood Council by Amcal Housing, his Agoura Hills development partner. Gordon Murley, a member of the planning and land use committee, said the group received in October what he described as “courtesy pre-application presentation” of a project in its very early stages. “They haven’t done a traffic study, so there’s a lot of work they have to do,” said Murley, also president of the Woodland Hills Homeowners Organization. “Whatever you put in there at any magnitude is going to create some problems, but they haven’t fleshed out the design yet.” Amcal did not respond to calls for comment. Gortikov could not be reached for comment. The 3.7-acre property has been leased by the postal service for 37 years and was acquired by Gortikov for about $5 million in 2004 from an investor who held it for a short time. It had been owned previously by the trust of the late L.A. Councilman John Ferraro, according to real estate data service CoStar Group Inc. Gortikov also owns an adjacent land parcel of about 4.2-acres and an office building on the street that is on less than half an acre, according to CoStar. It’s unclear whether Gortikov will maintain an ownership interest in any development. However, a longtime area broker said it was his understanding that Gortikov had planned to sell the property. U.S. Postal Service officials said they were aware of the development plan and said the Woodland Hills post office would remain in service at a new site. “The property owner has notified the Postal Service of proposed redevelopment plans in the area,” said spokesman Richard Maher in an email. “The Postal Service plans to relocate the Woodland Hills Post Office in the coming years to an alternate location as close to the current one as possible. Sometime in the future a community meeting will be announced and a written comment period held to facilitate input.” Amcal is a major apartment developer, with more than 50 communities developed in the state, including the 98-unit Montecito Terraces in Panorama City and the 81-unit Cielo Azul in Palmdale. The company was founded in 1978 by its chief executive Percival Vaz. One of the major challenges for Amcal in getting a project approved by the neighborhood council is traffic. Clarendon Street has only one lane on each side and often already bottlenecks leading to Topanga Canyon Boulevard. In all other directions, residents would have to use equally small streets to reach major thoroughfares. Murley said Amcal did not detail much about the proposal at the Oct. 16 committee meeting, but said the development would top out at three stories and include a parking garage that potentially backs up against the 101 Freeway. “It’s a tough area to navigate. There are a lot of problems with how they could make this work. They’re supposed to be coming back with answers,” Murley said. The developer also said that unlike many of the multifamily buildings that have gone up in the last few years, this one would not be mixed-use and include no commercial space. Murley cited this as a concern, since residents would have to leave the complex for any sort of purchase. However, the property is near a busy commercial strip of Ventura Boulevard that features a Rite-Aid, Ralph’s, Sprouts and a number of restaurants and retail shops. The land also falls just outside the recently adopted Warner Center 2035 Specific Plan that will guide area development for the next several years. The land would require a zone change to allow for residential development. However, there is an early indication that obtaining the change may not be an obstacle. Los Angeles Councilman Bob Blumenfield, who represents the neighborhood, said in an email he’s “pleased to see Amcal working closely with community groups early on, before the city process has gotten underway.”

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