UPDATE: WeHo Councilmember Jeff Prang responds. Calls situation “really frustrating.” Click here.
Irv’s Burgers, a West Hollywood landmark for 63 years, will close in July according to Route66News.com, a website devoted to the history of that iconic stretch of highway, which includes Santa Monica Boulevard.
Route66News reports that the hamburger stand, which sits near the northeast corner of Santa Monica and Sweetzer, has been served an eviction notice by its landlord, Standard Oil Investment Management.
The City of West Hollywood designated Irv’s Burgers as a cultural resource in 2005 after a campaign dubbed the “Burger Brigade” that was sparked by the property owner’s plan to demolish it and use the area for parking for a Peet’s Coffee planned for the adjacent lot. That lot, vacant since then, is now the site of Beach Nation, a project still under construction of Thomas Schoos, the architect whose stylish O Bar on the same block closed in 2011 to be replaced by Don’t Tell Mama, the restaurant and cabaret.
According to a statement released by the city on Tuesday, “The approved plans allow for both buildings on the site to be rehabilitated into two restaurants. The plans include the renovation and reuse of the former auto repair building, including an outdoor dining patio, and the rehabilitation of the Irv’s building to remain as a restaurant. The current entitlements require that the rehabilitation work to the building in which Irv’s Burgers is currently a tenant be completed prior to the opening of the second restaurant on site. Although the City has no authority with regard to commercial landlord and tenant matters, we have been in contact with both and offered them our assistance.”
Sonia Hong, owner of Irv’s, said her landlord has attempted to more than double her rent to $10,000 and put her on a month-to-month lease, which makes the eviction possible. The city’s designation of the business as a cultural resource is no guarantee that it won’t be closed and the building demolished. If the property owner can prove that the building is in poor shape and reconstruction will be too expensive it likely will get permission to destroy it.
“It cannot be torn down without several stringent findings being made at a public hearing per West Hollywood Municipal Code 19.58.110,” according to the city’s statement.
The dispute is similar to one involving Beverly Hills developer Mehran Ebrahimpour over Henry’s Tacos in North Hollywood. Ebrahimpour opposed the taco stand owner’s attempt to have its Googie-style buidling designated an historic landmark, a designation that failed despite support from celebrities such as Elijah Wood and George Lopez, and Los Angeles mayoral candidate Jan Perry. Ebrahimpour raised the Henry’s Taco’s rent by more than 150 percent, forcing the business to close. Henry’s Tacos was forced to move in January.