Luxe Grocery Chain Erewhon Sues City of LA to Stop Redevelopment

Midwood plans to renovate the empty hotel into a 520-unit mixed-use building.

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Ultra-upscale grocery chain Erewhon is taking a break from selling $20 raw milk to file a lawsuit against the City of Los Angeles, aiming to prevent the razing and large-scale multifamily redevelopment of a defunct hotel adjacent to its Studio City location.

The owners of Erewhon are suing the city on environmental grounds, asserting that it failed to comply with the California Environmental Quality Act, which requires that the public be suitably notified of potential environmental effects of planned developments, according to the L.A. Times, which first reported the news. 

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The grocery chain alleges in its suit that the city conducted just a basic assessment of the site, rather than a more comprehensive environmental impact report.

Erewhon is the anchor tenant, leasing a little over 11,600 square feet, at the 94,000-square-foot The Shops at Sportsmen’s Lodge at 12833 Ventura Boulevard. Midwood Investment and Development is the grocery chain’s landlord there, and is also behind the redevelopment plans of Sportsmen’s Lodge, a 190-key hotel which opened in the early 1960s yet permanently closed during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Midwood’s plans to renovate the empty hotel into a 520-unit mixed-use building cleared the L.A. Planning Commission last year. Erewhon and a consortium of Studio City residents and a local hospitality union appealed, arguing that the site should be subject to more environmental study and that the plans conflicted with the zoning and other property types in the area. 

Midwood also plans 46,000 square feet of ground-floor commercial space at the property. Seventy-eight of the proposed units will be designated as affordable housing. If allowed to proceed, construction on the redevelopment is expected to commence in 2025.

The L.A. City Council voted 13-1 to deny Erewhon and company’s appeal last month, yet the appeal and now lawsuit is not the first tussle Erewhon has had with its Studio City landlord. 

The companies have been locked in a legal battle since 2022, when Midwood accused the grocer of not paying rent and overusing a communal parking lot at the property. Erewhon fired back with another lawsuit, arguing that Midwood had not forbid Erewhon employees from using the lot. 

Representatives for Erewhon and Midwood did not immediately respond to requests for comment. 

Nick Trombola can be reached at ntrombola@commercialobserver.com.