Preservation Alliance Asks that Six More Buildings Be Considered Historically Significant

Madison Car Wash at 7617 Santa Monica Blvd. (Photo courtesy of West Hollywood Preservation Alliance)

Local historic preservationists want to add six buildings to a list of 57 commercial properties identified by a city consultant as worthy of being designated as historic. And some property owners are saying no to having theirs included.

Designation as a historical resource offers both pluses and minuses for building owners. On the plus side, they can qualify for benefits including less strict zoning requirements and a reduction of up to 50% in property taxes in exchange for rehabbing and preserving a building. On the minus side, an owner who plans to significantly alter or demolish a building designated as historic must obtain a “certificate of appropriateness” if the designation is by the City of West Hollywood. A more complex process, including an often-lengthy and expensive California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) study can be required if a building is designated as historic by the state or federal government.

Victor Omelczenko, a member of the board of the West Hollywood Preservation Alliance (WHPA), likened the designation of a building as historic to winning the Oscar. For “the preservation community, the real prize is actually getting a building officially designated as a cultural resource,” he said.

The buildings that WHPA wants added to the list are:

— The Macha Theatre building at 1107 N. Kings Rd. A lawyer representing its owner objected to it being listed while Tricia Cruz, a theatre board member, spoke out for it.

— The Madison Car Wash at 7617 Santa Monica Blvd., the last example of a Googie-style building in WeHo.

— 8445 Santa Monica Blvd., the former location of Ritts Furniture, which was designed by Harry Harrison, a disciple of Frank Lloyd Wright.

— The Holloway Motel at 8465 Santa Monica Blvd., the only remaining motel along historic Route 66

Pink Taco building at 8225 Sunset Blvd. (Photo courtesy of West Hollywood Preservation Alliance)

— The Pink Taco building at 8225 Sunset Blvd. WHAP notes that while changes in the building have affected its historic integrity, those could be restored.

— The Viper Room at 8850 Sunset Blvd., built in 1921 and the location of numerous entertainment venues.

Mayor Lauren Meister asked that buildings at 7496, 7735, 89054 and 9091 Santa Monica Boulevard also obe considered for historic designation.

The owner of Carney’s Restaurant at 8351 Sunset Blvd. asked that his building be removed from the list of those eligible for historic designation, arguing that the train cars on the property were significantly altered.

“Unfortunately this survey was conducted without outreach to property owners who could have provided additional and pertinent information,” said a letter from Afriat Consulting Group, which represents the property owner. “This survey may have a permanent, potentially harmful impact on property owners included in the survey.”

Councilmember John Heilman said he was uncomfortable adding properties to the list that either hadn’t been vetted by GPA Consulting, the city’s consultant, or that GPS found were ineligible.

“The process of designating a property has a significant impact to the property and we shouldn’t do that (after the property has been rejected by the consultant two times),” Heilman said.

Councilmember John D’Amico said he supported addition of other properties to this list but couldn’t back adding the six suggested by WHAP without further analysis from the city consultant.

GPA surveyed 763 commercial and residential buildings between November 2015 and August 2016. Of those, 27 were commercial, institutional or industrial properties that previously had been designated historic.

Working with the city’s Historic Preservation Commission, Community Development Department and community members, GPA whittled down the list of 763 properties. It used criteria for historic properties from the National Register for Historic Places, the state Register of Historical Resources and the city’s Register of Cultural Resources.

GPA also identified four segments of West Hollywood’s history in order to put the buildings it evaluated into historical context. Those segments were the development of Sherman and adjacent county lands (1895 – 1925), West Hollywood (1926 – World War II); postwar West Hollywood (1946 – 1965), and modern West Hollywood (1966 – 1984.) Using traditional standards for historic designation, only properties built at least 45 years ago (i.e. prior to 1975) were considered.

GPA re-evaluated the 27 buildings already on the various historic preservation lists to see if they had been maintained in such a way as to still qualify. Of those, two buildings have been torn down and two altered in a way that would make them ineligible for historic designation. Their addresses are 8795 Sunset Blvd., 8866 Sunset Blvd., 9016 Sunset Blvd. and 9131 Sunset Blvd.

The GPA study was essentially an update of a citywide historic resources survey completed in 1986-87 and a second survey of multi-family residential buildings completed in 2008. In addition to the study, GPA is working with the City of West Hollywood to develop a website that will offer information about historic preservation in West Hollywood, including the cultural heritage preservation ordinance, various applications and forms for historic resources and answers to frequently asked questions.


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fine7760
Guest

I looked over the extensive report and noted the property where the MTA Bus Division, that’s the correct description, stands was mentioned more than once and photos of it spanning from it’s streetcar days to when it was a bus division were included. Yet this property failed to meet the standards as a historical site. A car wash made it. A former Bekins Warehouse made it. But the site of where this small city saw it’s inception was somehow deleted. Are we to believe this was purposely done because political forces within the city value their distain for the largest… Read more »

kab1200
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kab1200

Herb Ritts father had the lucite furniture company. If you know them, you would have known that.

Authentic Preservation
Guest
Authentic Preservation

No one, NO ONE from WHPA put pen to paper to nominate 8899 Beverly Blvd. They like to stand up at meetings advocating for this or that but putting the nomination in the works and following it is critical. Otherwise these folks are just kicking the ball around resulting in glorified busy work. Their other talent is chasing the train that left the station as the dog and cat hospital at the Melrose Triangle in a desperate attempt to quash an entire development. Stop dreaming WHPA and GET REAL.

meister4weho
Guest
meister4weho

@Manny, but I did — I brought up the building as a potential historic and cultural resource, its history and the info about the master architect. You can’t blame WHPA for the Council majority’s decision. The facts were out there.

Manny
Guest
Manny

Madam Mayor…..Although they were asked many times, local preservationist did not rigorously defend that building at the time they needed to.

I was there…..The crickets at City Council Chambers were deafening.

Very disappointing.

meister4weho
Guest
meister4weho

@Manny – 8899 Beverly is already on the “potential list” of the Commercial Historic Resources Survey, which is why WHPA did not need to mention it. See TABLE II: POTENTIAL INDIVIDUAL HISTORIC RESOURCES (record #3). Status code is 5S3. The real shame is that some of my colleagues did not see it as such when the project came before us. https://app.box.com/s/m5gkqagp6fqvzkgklz2omsxzr2pi80xo

Authentic Preservation
Guest
Authentic Preservation

The Palm Ave propertyi is being developed and architect is allegedly Ed Levin also on HPC. How much is a plaque and when are these cottages going to be spruced up by the current owner/developer? As it is they look like a production location for Tobacco Road. Can the city compel the owner to at least break out an old fashioned cleanup detail?

R J Duff Bennett
Guest
R J Duff Bennett

My hope is that our City Officials would use the resources to protect the existing Historical Landmarks from developers, as well as enforce Municipal Codes requiring owner to perform necessary maintenance, they do receive a substantial tax break. It has been four years since two homes on Palm Ave were granted Historical Landmark status as part of the Sherman Thematic Group, multiple request to have a sign placed on the public way to designate these Landmarks have not come to fruition. Once funding allows, according to John Keno, they will be placed. Without the means to protect and designate the… Read more »

Manny
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Manny

Too bad WHPA completely ignored 8899 Beverly Blvd. This building’s north side (facing West Hollywood) will now be stripped and become completely unrecognizable.

The 8899 Beverly Blvd building was a site truly worthy of preservation…….Crickets from WHPA.

Michael
Guest
Michael

Who are these people pushing their views on the community and property owners and professional historic conservancies doing their job! The buildings are less outdated then their hair style!

Tom Smart
Guest
Tom Smart

J Simmons, you mean “Ritts” Family and that dusty Lucite store was owned by Herb’s mother Shirley (and probably her husband Herb too)

J Simmons
Guest
J Simmons

Yep.

Authentic Preservation
Guest
Authentic Preservation

Although WHPA may have good intentions, one of the cornerstones of a preservation group is scholarship. While these folks were offered guidance from other conservancies, WHPA was determined to be their own original creation from the bottom up. Unfortunately their efforts were less than welcoming to potential members, professionals in the design & architecture fields and entities that could have offered corporate partnership and support. As a result they have become insular and primarily interested in who lived or slept here and there rather than credible examples of architecture.