By Bill Hendrickson
The block-long construction site at 1332 Colorado Boulevard in Eagle Rock – known locally as “Pillarhenge” for its array of exposed concrete columns – is up for sale. The asking price, $3.2 million, is $1.3 million more than the owner, Imad Boukai, paid for the property in 2016.
The proposed sale, listed on January 16, came as a surprise because Boukai, an Orange County businessman, has been chugging along for years to obtain permits for a mixed-use development on the property. As recently as last July, Boukai told the Boulevard Sentinel that the project – dubbed the “Love Boat” by locals for its size and shape – was moving ahead.
In all, the development plan calls for a four-story, 31-unit apartment building over two levels of parking and commercial space, with three of the apartments set aside for very low-income tenants. The plan was one of the first to take advantage of the city’s rules for “Transit Oriented Communities,” adopted in 2017 to incentivize development near public transit.
Asked by the Boulevard Sentinel why the property had been put up for sale, Boukai said he is not giving up on his plan to develop the property – not yet, anyway. He said he had put the property up for sale to keep his option open to walk away if a buyer comes along.
A statement like that is one of those things that make you go “hmmmm.” Developing a difficult site like Pillarhenge takes commitment. A public announcement of willingness to walk away is the opposite of commitment.
The question now is what will become of the property if Boukai doesn’t proceed. No one ever said they were in love with Boukai’s Love Boat proposal, so his apparent desire to exit the stage could be a chance for a do-over that results in something more useful or more beautiful.
What is sure is that the Pillarhenge site, first abandoned in 2008 and still an undeveloped eyesore four years after being purchased by Boukai, is a public embarrassment. Money to improve Colorado Boulevard is coming in as part of the Take Back the Boulevard initiative and Metro is interested in remaking the boulevard for bus rapid transit. But Pillarhenge endures, a monument to the inability to get things that need doing done.
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