Home Depot has a 20-year lease on the property that Kmart moved out of in 2002.
Consultants to representatives for the "No Home Depot Campaign" — an umbrella organization including several local town councils and hundreds of foothill residents — fear the Home Depot project would ultimately be bigger than what they are proposing. So in an effort to slow the project, opponents are asking the city planning department to look into Home Depot's reconstruction costs.
If renovation costs are more than 50% of the total value of the building, city code demands that it be subject to further environmental and design reviews.
Consultants for the "No Home Depot Campaign" say that Home Depot's $2.7-million reconstruction cost is far too low for what it will cost to renovate the $7.5 million building. They estimate it will cost about $4.5 million to refurbish the old Kmart building.
But lawyers representing the world's largest home-improvement retailer said the building has a replacement value at $8.1 million and that their revised construction permits total just $2.7 million, or about 34% of the total value.
"We believe there is ample evidence to support the permit," said Patricia Tegart, an attorney with Latham and Watkins, the firm representing Home Depot in the dispute. "None of the appellants' contentions have merit."
Residents opposed to Home Depot moving in are hoping Booher will recommend that the Los Angeles Planning Department reinstate a stop-work order on construction that was initially imposed in December 2006.
Booher's decision is likely come in two to four weeks and probably will elicit an appeal from either side to the planning commission.