Faring Capital to Restore The Factory

An image of the revised plan for Robertson Lane, included a restoration of The Factory.
An image of the revised plan for Robertson Lane, included a restoration of The Factory. (Design by Hodgetts & Fung).

Faring Capital has announced that it will restore most of the historic Factory building on Robertson Boulevard and integrate it into its Robertson Lane hotel, restaurant and shopping complex.

The decision, by Faring CEO Jason Illoulian, won immediate praise from the the West Hollywood Preservation Alliance (WHPA) and from the L.A. Conservancy, the most prominent historic preservation group in greater Los Angeles.

“The redesigned proposal for Robertson Lane incorporating The Factory is the result of continued efforts between preservationists and Faring Capital and should be a template for future cooperation as a win-win for all involved,” said Roy Rogers Oldenkamp, WHPA’s president.

Robertson Lane's front elevation, featuring The Factory, on Robertson Boulevard.
Part of the front elevation, featuring The Factory, of Robertson Lane. (Design by Hodgetts & Fung)

“We appreciate Faring’s willingness to work closely with us over the past year and listen to the concerns of the preservation community,” said Linda Dishman, president and CEO of the L.A .Conservancy. “They have made meaningful changes by removing full demolition from their proposed project and we look forward to the details.”

Preservation of The Factory has been an issue for some in the local gay community because it was the home of Studio One, a nightclub that opened in 1975. Scott Forbes, the optometrist who opened the club, told the Los Angeles Times that the club was “planned, designed and conceived for gay people, gay male people. Any straight people here are guests of the gay community. This is gay!” Others have argued for its preservation because the Factory, built in 1929, housed the Mitchell Camera Company, which supplied cameras to the young movie industry.

“Robertson Lane and The Factory’s preservation is a perfect example of community collaboration and environmental guidelines working exactly as they should — enabling responsible development to move forward,” Illoulian said. “We now have a project that both celebrates our community’s history and gives these important structures new life.”

Faring plans to relocate a 140-foot long, two-story portion of The Factory so that it runs north-south along Robertson Boulevard. In a press release, Faring said it “will become the centerpiece of the forthcoming Robertson Lane project.”

Faring also will restore The Factory’s facade, replacing the current windows with salvaged original windows, reusing embossed steel cladding and removing non-historic elements from the building. Faring will commission an oral history project and installations celebrating Studio One and the Factory’s significance to the LGBT community.

The Factory on Robertson Boulevard (Photo: Los Angeles Times, 1929)
The Factory on Robertson Boulevard (Photo: Los Angeles Times, 1929)

Illoulian, a West Hollywood resident whose pending projects include a condo building on Doheny Drive and a proposed office building with restaurants on the site of the now-closed French Market, said he has worked with local preservation groups for two years. He said he also has worked with small businesses in the area, which are happy to see that the Robertson Lane project will include more parking for the area and is designed to make it more pedestrian-friendly. The underground parking area will have more than 1,000 spaces The project includes a “paseo” that links Robertson Boulevard with LaPeer Drive to its west. The hotel will have 241 rooms, and there will be small retail spaces that Illoulian says will be “curated” to ensure a variety of interesting shopping experiences.

Jeff Apter, co-owner of Hedley’s, the restaurant across Robertson Boulevard from The Factory, said the project will have a good impact on the neighborhood. “Right now there’s not enough parking in West Hollywood. And from what I understand from the plans, which are quite beautiful, they are going to put parking spaces in it. When you look at successful cities such as Beverly Hills and Santa Monica, you think ‘I never have to think of parking.’ When you come to West Hollywood, you wonder ‘Where am I going to park?’

A view of the Robertson Lane project from La Peer Drive
A view of the Robertson Lane project from La Peer Drive (Design by Hodgetts & Fung)

“I also think it will bring local people out into the streets. Right now everything is bars and clubs. With this project having more daytime things like restaurants, it will bring more people out and increase the vibrancy of the city.”

Over the years The Factory building transitioned from a camera manufacturer to a military salvage company to a nightclub for Hollywood celebrities to a Spaghetti Village family-themed restaurant. The building has housed numerous other venues, including the “Axis” club that helped make Sandy Sachs a lesbian icon, and has served as home to nights such as “Rasputin” and “Ultra Suede.” An effort to have it designated a cultural resource was rejected by the City Council in 1995.

The Robertson Lane project’s environmental impact report, required under state law, soon will finished by city development officials. It then will go before the city’s Planning Commission. The project also will likely be reviewed by the Planning Commission’s design review subcommittee and the city’s Historic Preservation Commission.

More information about Robertson Lane and the future plans for the Factory building can be found online.

An early rendering of the Robertson Lane project as as seen from Robertson Boulevard. (Architect Hodgetts + Fung)
An early rendering of the Robertson Lane project before the incorporation of The Factory. (Architect Hodgetts + Fung)

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kab1200
Guest
kab1200

I am not sure why everyone is praising the developer for hearing them, and patting themselves on the back. I guarantee you, he only did it so the project would not be tied up in court for years and years. The original plan was beautiful, this is good too, but I hardly see the Factory in this, to be honest.

nir zilberman
Guest
nir zilberman

just one more way to make money, this new look have nothing to do with the FACTORY, it’s same old B.S. we kissing people A*S, and they get everything they want. this look like any other “mall”, wake up, people. just give up, at least we don’t have to look like …. we know better. look at the pics, thanks for what? for one more cement and glass window, in a street that the traffic is so bad already. well, the next thing we will hear, but we got more parking. well, let’s work together to support our small businesses,… Read more »

J
Guest
J

yes !! YES!!! lets get this done….so many new projects and not many off the ground yet, THE TRIANGLE project, THE FACTORY project, THE FRENCH MARKET reno, THE OLD DONUT STORE (cres and smblvd). It seems that EAST WEHO has grown nicely and now lets come west

danceforever1111
Guest

I think this is “much ado about nothing” and that truly that is one of the grossest parts of Robertson ….which is crazy becuz it is in the heart of the coolest city that the whole world is influenced by! Seem like these guys want to try to preserve the old building + add value and safety to north Robertson (it is a sketchy part of the city some nights) so….why not let them?

JJ
Guest
JJ

Right on Caboom & Stuart Denenberg!

Stuart Denenberg
Guest

In the spirit of compromise, Reality plays a rather large role. Jason is progressive, and as always, open minded, creative, and attentive. High praise to his selection of architects Hodgetts and Fung–it can only be brilliant!!

Ron Hamill
Guest
Ron Hamill

It never ceases to amaze me how snarky people always never put there true names on their posts. That’s why I don’t usually post on these things. Over and out.

David Reid
Guest

Win.

Gloria Vassy
Guest

I din’t believe a word of this proposal. the people running, or should I say, ruining West Hollywood, are the only one’s who will benefit. Ka-ching ka ching, in their pockets. What is presented for the public to ooh and ahh over, is not what they will get. Do we really need more shopping when most of the shops in Weho are empty? Do we really need another hotel in our 1.9 sq. miles of land? Illoulian is ruining the look of Weho and Los Angeles. Money talks, here, and this is already a done deal. Forget all of the… Read more »

Caboom
Guest
Caboom

The LA conservancy and preservationists are aware of the ability to dismantle and restore. It is a completely legitimate and clean way to preserve a building. The irony is the silhouette of the structure will have a much better aesthetic on a north south axis than the existing footprint. Beyond this, lets be real! the building now houses 2 – 3 nights a week a reckless and rowdy crowd that creates massive traffic and chaos. The club doesn’t even cater to a gay crowd any more, on the contrary. So all of you haters that want the building kept for… Read more »

JJ
Guest
JJ

I’ll be happy when the damn thing is built (with our without the old factory building). It will be a wonderful addition to the city and I love that there will be more dining options in the neighborhood!

Ron Hamill
Guest
Ron Hamill

The only thing that’s being jacked here are all the people that were trying to get the building on the National Registry. I’m not sure but in my engineering experience this building cannot be jacked up off the foundation and moved. It is not that type of construction. It cannot be lifted. It could be dismantled and rebuilt but then it sheds the meaning of saving it. I don’t see why it can stay where it is with the annex taken off (or left on) and make it look like the rendering art above. Once it’s cleaned up there could… Read more »

Jason
Guest
Jason

Looks similar to the platform in Culver.