This post was updated Feb. 17 at 3:18 p.m.
Developers demolished the former location of popular sports bar, Sepi’s, to make way for medical office space.
Construction of a four-story medical office space began on 900 Gayley Ave., next to In-N-Out and at the same intersection where UCLA is constructing new dorms.
The project also includes construction on 10968 Le Conte Ave., where Sepi’s, once the only business in the lot, operated prior to closing its doors in April 2019 because of issues with its liquor license and failed efforts to relocate.
Michael Skiles, president of the North Westwood Neighborhood Council and chair of the NWWNC Land Use Committee, said because the project has yet to finish, he has heard nothing official about how the space will be utilized.
Construction on 900 Gayley Ave., a longtime vacant lot, is a good sign for the Westwood community, said Andrew Thomas, executive director of the Westwood Village Improvement Association.
“It’ll be refreshing to see that type of investment happening in our district,” Thomas said. “And I hope that serves as a signal to other property owners that want to do something on a grander scale – that they really should explore it, because we could use those signs of progress and development in our district.”
Sina Keramat, a second-year financial actuarial mathematics student, said he believed the addition of a professional building to the Westwood community would benefit students in the future.
“I would hope that there’s an office building, located directly across from the dorm – that it would open up avenues for students to work and get a career,” Keramat said.
Skiles said he believed the workplace will moderately improve the business scene in the Westwood Village.
“I’d be more excited about it if it were housing projects that dealt with the student and worker housing crisis,” Skiles said. “But the region needs office space, (and) I’m sure there’s demand for both medical office space and collaborative workspace in Westwood.”
The four-story building will be small compared to the UCLA dorm project at the same intersection, which will be over 15 stories tall, Skiles said.
“I imagine the construction impact should be a lot smaller than that (which) we’ve seen from the dorms,” Skiles said.
While there will be some noise and potential pedestrian traffic obstruction with the construction, Thomas said he believes this project will not greatly affect local residents, especially with UCLA Housing construction already taking place at the same intersection of Gayley and Le Conte.
“I would say for the people who live in that area, they (are) probably used to construction because right across the street, the UCLA construction is going on,” Thomas said. “They’re not doing construction in the middle of the night, so I think the impact will be minimal.”
Architects Orange, which employs the executive architect, and the McShane Construction Company, the contractor for the project, did not respond in time for publication. The Reed Architectural Group created the designs for the project.
Keramat added he believed the benefits of the added medical offices will outweigh inconveniences such as the construction’s impact on traffic.
“It will congest the road, but I think it will overall make Westwood better just to have new (sorts) of buildings (and) new sources of revenue,” Keramat said.
Skiles said he thinks it is unfortunate that the closure of Sepi’s allowed this project to go forward.
“That wasn’t a loss that needed to happen just because this building was going to get built, and (Sepi’s) tried to move to another location on Broxton (Avenue),” Skiles said. “The biggest downside of this project was the loss of Sepi’s.”
Because the construction project will not require any special permissions, the owners would not be required to present any reports to the NWWNC, Skiles said.
“I don’t expect that it will be very controversial,” Skiles said.