The California Historic Resources Commission has designated The Factory building in West Hollywood as a state historic resource and asked that it be listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
The designation, made in a four-to-two vote at the Commission’s meeting on Friday, won’t complicate plans by Faring to construct a planned hotel and restaurant and shopping complex on the site on Robertson Boulevard south of Santa Monica. Under state law, an environmental quality act review (CEQA) may be required if the project is deemed to have an impact on the building designated as historic. The national designation has no such restrictions. However Faring already had begun such a process before Friday’s designation.
Responding to complaints from preservation activists about demolishing the building, Faring’s Jason Illoulian announced plans in July to restore most of the Factory building and integrate it into the Robertson Lane project. That decision won immediate praise from the West Hollywood Preservation Alliance (WHPA) and from the L.A. Conservancy, the most prominent historic preservation group in greater Los Angeles.
Linda Dishman the Conservancy’s president and CEO, also praised Faring’s plans to restore The Factory in her response to the Historic Preservation Commission’s decision. “The Conservancy looks forward to seeing the latest plan through the environmental impact report, as we support plans to reuse, rehabilitate, and integrate The Factory as part of the project,” Dishman said. “Balancing many goals, it is a win-win for both the preservation community and the city.”
“We have listened to those who valued the Factory and made meaningful changes to our project,” Embry said. “As a Weho-based firm, our outreach continues to reflect Faring’s sensitivity and commitment to the local community. The commission’s recommendation doesn’t change anything – we’re already planning to keep most of the building and making sure it survives and thrives for future generations.”
Two preservation activists opposed to the Robertson Lane project, Kate Eggert and Krisy Gosney, organized the West Hollywood Heritage Project last year and have made The Factory their focus. Their initial appeal for The Factory to be designated historically significant was denied by the state Historic Resources Commission in August. A request for designation as a historic resources also had been denied in 1995.
The earlier request for historic designation stressed The Factory’s role as home to Studio One, a gay disco that opened in 1974 and drew celebrities such as Patti LaBelle, Joan Rivers and Liza Minnelli along with as many as 1,000 gay men. The appeal of the August decision also emphasized that The Factory was home to the Mitchell Camera Factory, whose cameras enabled films to go from silent to “talkies,” and continued to influence camera technology until the digital era arrived in the early 2000s.
Editor’s Note: An earlier version of this story said the historical designation could complicate Faring’s plans by requiring an environmental review. However Faring already has begun such a review. The story has been updated to reflect that.