Four of ten commercial properties in West Hollywood that originally were not deemed eligible to be designated as historic resources are eligible for another look.
The West Hollywood Preservation Alliance asked the city to include six of those properties after an extensive survey of commercial and other non-residential properties by an outside consultant was completed in September of last year. At its meeting on Jan. 23 of this year, the City Council asked that WHPA’s suggestions be reviewed and that an additional four properties recommended by City Councilmember Lauren Meister also be considered. The properties reviewed include the Macha Theatre, the Holloway motel, Hamburger Haven, Pink Taco restaurant and the Viper Room.
The city engaged Chattel Inc., a preservation consultant, to review the original preservation evaluation by GPA. Chattel agreed with GPA that the car repair buildings at 7496 and 7935 Santa Monica, the car wash at 7617 Santa Monica, the Holloway motel at 8465 Santa Monica and the Pink Taco restaurant at 8225 Sunset Boulevard did not qualify as eligible for historic designation.
But it recommended that further research be done on four properties:
— 1107 N. Kings Rd., the MACHA Theatre
— 8445 Santa Monica Blvd., location of the former Ritts Company
— 9091 Santa Monica Blvd., a building, currently empty, that once housed the Maxfield clothing store.
— 8850 Sunset Blvd., location of the Viper Room.
GPA has agreed with two of Chattel’s recommendations. It said the quality of the interior of the Macha Theatre building could outweigh the alterations to the exterior, which now is covered in corrugated metal. GPA says it needs to be re-evaluated. GPA also now recommends that the 9091 Santa Monica Blvd. building be listed as eligible for history designation. It agreed with Chattel that the building, erected in 1924, reflects the then-nature of the block as a commercial spot along the streetcar line.
WHPA is asking the City Council, which will receive City Hall’s report on the Chattel findings and their review by GPA, to consider re-evaluating four of the properties that Chattel agreed with GPA are not worthy of consideration. All four of which are on Santa Monica Boulevard’s stretch of historic Route 66.
Those buildings are:
— 7496 Santa Monica Blvd., a two-story building that houses Final Touch Collision Center, a car repair shop. “Constructed in 1947, the building is a distinctive example of the Streamline Moderne style now rare in West Hollywood,” WHPA said in a letter to the City Council. “With an unfortunate fire and an uncertain future facing the only other Streamline Moderne commercial property along Santa Monica Boulevard — the former Jones Cat and Dog Hospital building at 9080 Santa Monica Boulevard in the Melrose Triangle area – this eastside building deserves further reevaluation.”
— 7617 Santa Monica Blvd., the location of Madison Car Wash. The two-story building is designed in the neo-Googie style. “This is a unique structure visually and architecturally in the city,” says the WHPA letter. “The car wash itself or such signature elements as its row of pylons should be recognized as a fine tribute to our area’s car culture. Any redevelopment on the site could repurpose the current building into a restaurant or shop. “
— 8445 Santa Monica Blvd., the previous home of the Ritts Furniture Store. “Former city urban designer John Chase worked with the architect who renovated the property to ensure that the neo-Wrightian design of original architect Harry Harrison was preserved,” says the WHPA letter. “The WHPA believes this building retains its mid-century modern sensibility and deserves to be reevaluated.”
— 8465 Santa Monica Blvd., the Holloway motel. “This motel with its elements of Colonial Revival design retains its integrity from the days of Route 66 and still provides a source of affordable lodging to travelers visiting West Hollywood,” says WHPA. “ As the only remaining motel along West Hollywood’s stretch of this historic road, the WHPA believes that the Holloway Motel deserves to be re-evaluated for historic eligibility.”
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. That can make designating some buildings as historic a problem for building owners and developers.
The City Council has this on its consent agenda, all of whose items typically are voted on at once and not discussed. However preservations are likely to appear at tonight’s meeting to discuss the recommendations. The meeting will begin at 6:30 p.m. in the Council Chambers at 625 N. San Vicente Blvd. Park, which is free with a ticket validated at the Council Chambers, is available in the five story structure behind the building.