A court today denied an appeal by the Los Angeles Conservancy of its previously rejected lawsuit to halt the planned demolition of the Streamline Moderne-style building at 9080 Santa Monica Blvd.
The decision by the 2nd District Court of Appeals appears to remove the final obstacle to the Charles Company’s plans to construct the Melrose Triangle. That project is planned for the plot of land bounded by Santa Monica Boulevard, Melrose Avenue and Almont Drive at the city’s border with Beverly Hills. It will consist of three buildings with a total of 300,000 square feet with a wide public passageway connecting Santa Monica Boulevard with Melrose Avenue. It will house offices, restaurants and shops and 76 residential units, 15 of which would be reserved for low- and moderate-income renters.
Supporters of the project have described it as a dramatic western gateway to West Hollywood. Its opponents have argued that the 9080 Santa Monica building should be preserved because of the architectural significance of its design. The building was built in 1928 and then renovated in 1938 in the Streamline Moderne style by Wurdeman & Becket, one of whose principals, Welton Becket, designed the Capitol Records building and the Cinerama Dome. For many years the building served as the Jones Dog & Cat Hospital, whose clients included actors such as Charlie Chaplin.
The Conservancy sued the City of West Hollywood in September 2014, arguing that its analysis of the project failed to comply with state requirements for assessing the environmental impact of construction projects under the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA). That environmental impact study includes an assessment of an existing building’s cultural or historic significance.
L.A. Superior Court Judge Richard Fruin Jr. ruled against the Conservancy in January 2016, saying that the city had properly considered alternatives to the Charles Company design, including one that would have tried to integrate the 9080 building into the modern Melrose Triangle design. Fruin noted that the city had reasoned that incorporating the Streamline Moderne building into the Melrose Triangle project would reduce the size of the “gateway” building facing Beverly Hills, would reduce available parking and would create “a discordant architectural appearance.”
“The city’s findings are entitled to deference,” Fruin’s ruling stated. “They are, in any event, supported by substantial evidence.”
The Court of Appeals affirmed Fruin’s ruling and ruled that the Conservancy must pay the legal costs of the City of West Hollywood and the Charles Company in contesting its appeal.