Judge denies city approval for new Hollywood Target center

A judge has handed Los Angeles a new legal defeat, striking down the city's approval of a Hollywood Target shopping center for the second time in three years.

Target's partially built three-story structure has sat empty since 2014, when Los Angeles County Superior Court Judge Richard L. Fruin Jr. concluded that the City Council's approval of the project violated planning rules.  Council members responded two years later by approving new zoning for the site, but that vote drew a new legal challenge.

Last week, Fruin ruled that the council's do-over on the project also violated the law, the Los Angeles Times reported. He said city officials failed to properly examine the environmental effects of its new zoning mechanism on the larger neighborhood.

A lawyer for the La Mirada Avenue Neighborhood Association, which sued to stop the project, said Target should respond to the ruling by demolishing the structure and building a store that is no taller than 35 feet --considerably shorter than the current project -- and in accordance with planning and zoning rules, according to The Times.

Kristy Welker, a Target spokeswoman, said company executives are disappointed with the decision and "evaluating next steps." Rob Wilcox, spokesman for City Attorney Mike Feuer, declined to say whether the city will appeal Fruin's decision.

Citizens Coalition Los Angeles, a second plaintiff, had also challenged the Target project.  The Target decision follows a string of legal setbacks for City Hall on real estate development. Last week, a different judge ruled that the council failed to comply with the state's environmental law when it approved a Frank Gehry-designed mixed-use complex at Sunset and Crescent Heights boulevards.

Over the last five years, judges have also struck down the city's approval of Sunset and Gordon, a 299-unit apartment building, and the Millennium skyscraper project -- both in Hollywood. In addition, a judge ordered the council to repeal its 2012 Hollywood Community Plan update, which sought to allow taller and more dense development along Hollywoods transit corridors.

Planning officials are hoping for a new council vote on that plan later this year.

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