Since Willy O’Sullivan opened his bar O’Brien’s on Wilshire Boulevard and 23rd Street 21 years ago, he’s seen the city grow exponentially.
The site of a former car wash across the street encapsulates that transformation, he said on a recent weekday afternoon.
A three-story combination of retail and apartments has been proposed by commercial real estate company CBRE.
“If it passes, it may change the face of Wilshire Boulevard,” said O’Sullivan. “The fear of small business owners is that the city will outgrow us.”
The location is listed as a pending project on the city’s website. Calls to the planning department weren’t returned.
Wilshire West Car Wash, which closed a couple of months ago, made headlines in 2013 when the city attorney’s office accused the manager and a supervisor of violating labor laws. The defendants pled no contest and the car wash was ordered to compensate 75 former and current employees with back pay totaling about $660,000.
Now employees of the nearby Whole Foods park in the empty parking lot.
Advertisements for a pumpkin patch cover the car wash’s sign, which reads, “Closed.”
Commercial real estate company CBRE published plans and renderings online for 22,000 square feet of ground floor commercial retail, 2,700 square feet of restaurant space, 30 market-rate condominiums and 227 underground parking spaces. The city granted some entitlements for the site; however, those expired in 2014. A call to CBRE wasn’t answered.
Although O’Sullivan said he had “mixed feelings” about the development, he also said he could also see some potential upsides.
“In the long term, it could be great for the neighborhood and great for the corner,” he said.