Founded in 1992 with an unquenchable appetite for profits and acquisitions, IMT Capital, a Los Angeles-based development firm, has been more than willing to spread around the big money at L.A. City Hall in search of lucrative favors that would help expand its hefty real estate portfolio.
Since 2011, IMT Capital and its representatives have shelled out $5,700 in campaign contributions to L.A. politicians, according to the city’s Ethics Commission. And, since 2008, the developer has spent another $501,522 for high-priced, politically connected City Hall lobbyists. That’s a whopping total of $507,222 to woo L.A. politicians and bureaucrats over the years.
IMT Capital has been especially eager to win City Hall favors for a gigantic redevelopment project on the site of the historic Sunkist building at 14130 Riverside Drive in Sherman Oaks — the firm wants to build nearly 300 residential units on the property and needs a zone change from the City Council. Neighborhood activists charge that the project is too big and will cause even more gridlock in the area.
The Sunkist project, officially called “ICON Sherman Oaks,” also sits next to the 101 Freeway. USC and UCLA researchers have found that housing within 500 feet of a busy freeway can cause a number of serious health problems for children, pregnant women, senior citizens and the infirm. Such freeway-adjacent housing has come to be known as “Black Lung Lofts.”
But like many other developers, IMT Capital has followed a time-tested formula to overcome local opposition — simply whip out the checkbook and spend big cash in campaign contributions and lobbying fees to win over city politicians and bureaucrats. Since 2000, the real estate industry has contributed at least $6 million to the campaign war chests of L.A. politicians.