Appeals Court Rejects Effort to Stop Demolition of 9080 Santa Monica Blvd.

melrose triangle, studio one eleven, west hollywood development
Rendering of the proposed Melrose Triangle Gateway building (Architect Studio One Eleven)

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.

streamline moderne, 9080 santa monica blvd.
The former animal hospital built in the Streamline Moderne style at 9080 Santa Monica Blvd.

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.

  1. Sad this rare style can’t be saved. In a city that claims to love DIVERSITY, well this is a minority that needs special treatment.

  2. West Hollywood has always loved big giant over sized developments ie the under utilized library. It is a heaven for homeless people who use it for free WH. VERY few people use the library for it’s intended reasons. Just away to build a big over-sized building. There are so many empty store front in WH. The rents are so high and despite what the statistic show the economy RE small business in WH is not thriving.

  3. The efforts to dedicate the Wurdeman & Becket building and thus stall this development was a very late and misdirected concept. The individuals and local preservation organization involved would be well served to focus less on sentiment and more on awareness and credibility. Perhaps they should also share in the legal costs. Surprised that the Conservancy went along with their wishes and pursued it to the appeals level.

  4. It seems that anything old that has glass brick fenestration and curved corners is deemed by others “architecturally significant.” It’s a terrible old building – energy inefficient, seismically challenged, run down and ugly.

  5. As least the Faring Company isn’t running the project. I have dealt with that Family. I had to sue Jerry the Father of Jason who owns Faring. I won the case by settling with a five figure settlement. We were about to go to the Jury and they got scared. It took two years, but I found out a lot about that family and how they conduct business. The City needs to do a in-depth background check on the contractors they give “deals” to.

  6. Not every old structure in West Hollywood needs to be preserved. This building has been ignored for decades and that portion of Santa Monica Blvd needs something vibrant.

    Also let’s come up with better land uses than Hamburger Haven and Santa Palm Car Wash.

  7. It will be a shame to see this historically and architecturally significant building torn down. I am also surprised that it hadn’t already been deemed worthy of historic preservation, and that a plan to incorporate it into a new design for the Eastern Gateway to West Hollywood has NOT been approved. That would at the very least illustrate that West Hollywood is proud of its history, instead of, metaphorically speaking, “paving Paradise and putting up a parking lot.”

  8. Has anyone notice all the empty new store fronts in WEHO? Just what we don’t need is another oversized project that will sit half empty.

  9. I am glad to see something happening on this neglected area – especially since the owners allowed it to become a homeless encampment that caught on fire causing a death and several people to be hospitalized.

    We must thank the West Hollywood West Residence Association and the neighbors who for 2 decades worked with the developers & City of West Hollywood to ensure that this was an appropriate development for our community. I remember when it was proposed as a 6 story high building with 6 stories of underground parking and “wine & fine art” storage. The original design was bland and more appropriate for Ventura Blvd, not our western gateway. Have to give a shout out to all the WeHo West neighbors who persevered and helped make this project a success for us all.

  10. When folks decry the ever increasing cost of rent and the high cost of housing in WeHo, Los Angeles and California, look to examples like this to understand the why and how. It takes so long and costs so much just to get the approvals and go through the NIMBYism litigation just to build a handful of housing units. The industry term “barriers to entry” is what describes the how of rents rise – we cannot timely build the number of homes we need. So for everyone who complains about the high cost of rent – and complains about the proposed project next door to them – well look in the mirror. You can’t have both. Pick a lane, as the saying goes.

  11. Hooray! Finally! Now we can get this thing built and remove the blight that has existed on this corner for decades. ( note to editor: it’s our Western Gateway not our Eastern Gateway)

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