State Supreme Court Rejects L.A. Conservancy Appeal of Decision on Lytton Savings Demolition

The former Lytton Savings building, now housing Chase bank

The California Supreme Court has rejected an appeal by the L.A. Conservancy of an Appeals Court decision in March that effectively barred the demolition of the Lytton Bank building at 8150 Sunset Blvd.

The decision, rendered today, effectively clears the way for Townscape Partners to begin construction of a five-building project on the southwest corner of Sunset and Crescent Heights boulevards. The project would include buildings with 229 residential units and 65,000 square feet of commercial space, including a grocery store, restaurants and retail shops. It is being designed by the firm of noted architect Frank Gehry.

The Conservancy had appealed a March 23 decision by Justice Anthony Mohr’s that vacated one in April 2017 by Superior Court Judge Amy Hogue. Hogue’s decision barred the City of Los Angeles from issuing permits to Townscape that would allow it to demolish the bank building, which has been designated a historic resource.

The Lytton Savings building was designed by noted Southern California architect Kurt Meyer. Now a Chase Bank, the highly praised mid-century-modern building with its zig-zag folded plate roof, glass walls and interior art work offered a radical architectural departure from traditional bank buildings when it opened in 1960.

Hogue ruled in a case brought by the Los Angeles Conservancy that Los Angeles’s approval of the building’s demolition violated the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA), a state law that protects California’s built environment as it does the natural environment, and for that reason the project approval had to be set aside.

Hogue ruled that Townscape could not demolish the building unless it “can prove the benefits of the … project outweigh the significant environmental effect of demolition.”

The environmental impact report (EIR) for the 8150 Sunset Boulevard project studied alternatives that included the historic building and determined that they would feasibly be included in the project. However, the Los Angeles City Council later claimed that the preservation alternatives were not feasible and approved the Lytton Savings building’s demolition.

“We respectfully disagree with the Court of Appeal ruling, and believe this case goes to the foundation and intent of the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA), and the need to fully consider and adopt preservation alternatives when feasible,” said the LA Conservancy in a statement about the decision.

“We were hopeful throughout the process, given the overwhelming evidence supporting our claim that development of the site could move forward without demolition of the historic building. The project’s Environmental Impact Report (EIR) acknowledged Lytton Savings as a qualified historical resource under CEQA. It identified two feasible preservation alternatives allowing Lytton Savings to be incorporated into the project. And at 20,000 square feet, the Lytton Savings building represents only a small portion of the 330,000-square-foot development planned for the site.

“Completed in 1960, Lytton Savings exemplifies a transformative shift in bank design after World War II. As the EIR explains, the bank design ‘was strategically conceived as a modern multi-media showcase for Modern art, architecture, and interior design … related directly to its Sunset Boulevard context’ with a “distinctive folded plate concrete roof.

“It was designed by the late Kurt W. Meyer, a renowned architect devoted to public service and historic preservation. He served as chair of the Community Redevelopment Agency of Los Angeles, worked with financier Bart Lytton to try and preserve Irving Gill’s Dodge House (ultimately demolished) in West Hollywood, and served on the first advisory council of the Los Angeles Conservancy.”

In his opinion, Judge Mohr said “the record contains a number of facts that constitute substantial evidence that the preservation alternatives would not fulfill the objectives of the project, among which was a call for vibrant buildings that draw people in, create new economic opportunities, and preserve view corridors.”

  1. I AM THRILLED WITH THE DECISION!! (put your thumbs down and let me explain – hopefully the 2 arguing sides here can become one.

    1. Personally, I’ve lived in the area my whole 50 years of life.
    2. I have noticed thtoughout that there are many buildings/structures that got built at the wromg moment in time … In an artistic opinion of my own, several ate cringe wotrthy, which I only ever remember whenever I have driven by.
    3. THE “WASHINGTON MUTUAL BANK BUILDING” at issue … Please indulge me. I will never forgot their first commercial and kept it as their moto “FREE CHECKING FOR LIFE”. It was so absurd … apart from checking accounts were already on their way out in favor of digital/online/debit cardd … The first neighbor I ran into I could barely stop laughing to tell him ‘for life’ does that mean the life of the checking account holders, or ‘the life of the bank’. Turned out he worked for one of the three remaining superbanks at a high level & got my laughing so much despite not really speaking. He said he to thought it was the stupidest marketing slogan for a bank … ever. We laughed heartedly together knowing the tiny Washing Mutual would be out of business so fast, there probably won’t be a single person with a checking account who died before the imminent and obvious business failure it would quickly be.

    It really doesn’t matter to anyone who hasn’t gotten involved deeply based on a personal opnion. (I was trying to lighten the mood before explaiming why we should not be arguing on this issue (end of part 1)

    1. Washington Mutual didn’t go under because they offered checking accounts. I’ve had a checking account at Bank of America for 21 years, and have never paid a dime for having it.

      “Checking accounts were already on their way out?” I don’t have any data to support it, but I’ll bet there are more checking accounts now than there was then. People rarely use checks anymore, but they still have checking accounts, using debit cards, online banking and services like Venmo, Apple Pay and Paypal to pay bills.

      Washington Mutual went under because of the financial crisis, the housing bubble exploding, Lehman Brothers bankruptcy, and other factors, mostly related to the housing/mortgage market.

      I don’t think we should be laughing that it was absorbed by another, larger, bank. Chase is the largest bank in the United States, and second largest in the world, valued by market capitalization.

      Mergers and takeovers are usually not good things for consumers.

  2. I will not stop posting on wehoville. I am in the front row of every city council meeting so you are welcome to talk to me face to face. I will be one of your next Councilmembers so get used to it.

    1. Very interesting. By some fluke you may be but an inability or willingness to partner with those in power tells its own tale. It takes 3 votes to implement new directions and new policy. Being the odd man out has its just desserts.

  3. Happy to see that the land will be redeveloped into something more aesthetically pleasing then the dump of a strip mall that is currently there.

  4. Perhaps it’s time for West Hollywood to become part of LA again since so many people are unhappy here, based on the comments posted. LA has much better services, they don’t over pay their Mayor or Council (Mayor makes $200,000.), They have better Law Enforcement and Civilian Review. They know how to have a huge event without screwing it up. West Hollywood is Controlled by about a dozen Developers and a really rotten City Council. West Hollywood could be as good as LA if we had the right people on City Council and Managing the City. Why not just be known as the Gay part of LA if the Voters are unwilling to fix the problems in West Hollywood?

    1. Why not do as you vowed, “to not post on Wehoville”. That would be the first step in credibility. Second step to that would be obtaining reliable knowledge on the subjects which you espouse wisdom. Actually no need to proceed beyond step one.

    2. The “gay part” of LA. Please. There is no longer a gay epicenter because it’s no longer needed as people mature and integrate which is what the goal of gay marriage is. It may have more “gay bars” but now with apps to meet up and so many people transitioning/transgendering (mostly a dangerous big pharma push without adequate therapy), what really is gay at this point? The city will be known as a place for entertainment, gay or straight, trans/bi, etc. And though I don’t agree with some things the city council does, they have done some great things that make WEHO unique. Which would not be happening if we were part of a larger government entity. I hate big government. It eventually limits basic rights and forces you to conform.

    3. You are running for City Council and you don’t even know that West Hollywood was not ever part of Los Angeles? We were unincorporated County territory before incorporating into our own City. We were never part of Los Angeles City. You better educate yourself. Get off WehoVille and educate yourself. This is not how to run a campaign. You have zero chance.

      1. I respectfully disagree with you. I have done my research. West Hollywood was, in fact part of the City of Los Angeles.

        1. All due respect, but I agree with Snarkygal. You might want to learn about the history of the place that you want to be a leader in.

          West Hollywood was never a part of the City of Los Angeles, despite many annexation attempts. In fact, it used to be a town called Sherman, that was never annexed into the City of Los Angeles.

          “Beginning in 1922, Sherman’s population boomed. As the town’s development began to merge with that of Hollywood, by then a part of the City of Los Angeles, some in both Sherman and the metropolis began speaking of annexation.

          Los Angeles promptly annexed several large but mostly vacant tracts surrounding Sherman; the 1,203-acre Fairfax district became part of Los Angeles with the unanimous approval of its 16 residents, and a 7-0 vote joined the 430-acre Melrose district with L.A.

          L.A. easily incorporated these vast tracts into its city limits without contention, but Sherman was an established community with an independent identity, and the issue of annexation divided Sherman’s population and business interests. Realtors supported it, arguing that future development depended on access to Los Angeles’ sewer and fire protection services. Sherman’s Board of Trade and Chamber of Commerce opposed joining the city, however, fearful of increased property taxes.

          Over the decades, as the City of Los Angeles grew around it, West Hollywood survived several more annexation attempts.

          Soon a coalition—composed of residents concerned by out-of-control development, tenants anxious about the imminent expiration of Los Angeles County’s rent control law, and gays and lesbians troubled by the possibility of annexation to L.A.—coalesced around the idea of cityhood. ”

    4. Wait … aren’t you running for West Hollywood City Council? Maybe you should focus your efforts on getting the city incorporated into the behemoth bureaucracy that is the City of Los Angeles, instead? This seems like an opposing viewpoint. And weren’t you just singing praises to Duran at the last Council meeting during public comment, just a week ago on Monday? A member of this “rotten City Council?”

      You don’t think that there’s ever been a major event in the City of Los Angeles that has gone awry? You are going to blame the City of West Hollywood for CSW’s failure last weekend? Proof that people will blame the city for everything.

      I’d like to really know how many people are “unhappy here,” as opposed to people in the City of Los Angeles. With cost of living not considered, as that is an issue all throughout our region. I’m talking about how well the local government is run, how responsive they are, what services are provided to the residents, etc..

      West Hollywood is not perfect, but it is a fine city, and the residents get more benefits from living here than probably most cities in Southern California, or throughout the country. If one were to simply use comments from this site as some sort of an informal survey, one could draw the conclusion that there a lot of unhappy people, or that they make up a majority. I believe that people who comment on the internet are more inclined to post negative comments, rather than positive ones.

      Cost of living (and maybe traffic) aside, I think most people who live here are happy to live here. If one doesn’t like the traffic and the density we have, one should move, and maybe never have moved here in the first place, perhaps. Because that’s how this city has been, since it was incorporated in 1984. I value being in a populated area, a “walking village,” and I know that traffic comes with the territory, especially with SMB as a major thoroughfare from east to west, which we can’t do anything about at this point.

  5. Frank Gehry is so 1990’s. I hate to say it, folks, but his architecture is ugly. It’s not revolutionary anymore. Cool architecture now invokes nature, clean lines, open spaces, harkening back more to guys like Ray Kappe, Rudolph Schindler, and Edward Fickett. When I look at Gehry projects I think “Hair Metal.” On top of that, this project is way too big for the location. Almost as big as Gehry’s colossal and unwarranted ego. Traffic there is already horrible, and is only going to get exponentially worse.

    1. The proposed Frank Gehry project is already dated before it comes off the drawing board. Next time you are driving by Disney Center, stand next to it and imagine it next to your home and neighborhood. Consider the exponential effects of traffic, utilities, fire and safety.

      The West Hollywood/Los Angeles property described as a “gateway to the Sunset Strip” should not be trite but rather have some enduring elegance on a par with the 40 plus historic landmark buildings of varied style, that are in place within a 4 block radius. A disruptive building is as out of place as disruptive antics when folks don’t have the patience or expertise to sit down to consider reality.

  6. Great news, can I help knock down the corrupt Chase bank? I hate the banks. They’re all frauds. I much prefer this project. I’m not even a fan of Gehry but I do think his work makes a statement and will be a great asset to this area. Yes!

    And I hate the demolition of historic buildings, but I’m sorry, this savings bank isn’t that special. Just move it somewhere in the dessert. Or if it can’t be salvaged, so be it. At least save the stained glass windows in the old bank. Maybe they can used somewhere as a memory for those who do like this building.

    This project will be fantastic for the Sunset strip that really needs a renaissance and more renovations and fresh ideas.

  7. 8150 Sunset is directly adjacent and borders on West Hollywood.

    The project delivery entrance is on Havenhurst Drive in West Hollywood. Across from WEHO public housing where residents are elderly or are HIV and have medical problems. West Hollywood wholly ignored these problems because after numerous complaints to the city council.

    Lauren Meister signed a quick contract with the developers without the WEHO City Attorney approving. She used some tree hugging friend attorney who knew nothing about the development.

    The sewage from the building is to be dumped into Havenhurst Drive in West Hollywood.

    Mayor John Grindr Duran, Lindsay Horvath and John Heilman are owned by the 8150 Sunset developers. They are the “Townscape Three” It IS all pay to play. The development comes from New York money.

    West Hollywood failed to have a traffic study. Havenhurst and Crescent Heights WILL be strongly affected.

    The Los Angeles City Planning Department relied on the developer’s traffic study.

    Now the only solution is to file a complaint with the FBI using the project to investigate malfeasance in West Hollywood and Los Angeles.

    Why not? The LA Times called Los Angeles the second most corrupt city in the USA. West Hollywood is number three.

    As for the building designed by Frank Gehry. He considers 98% of modern architecture sh-t. 8150 project qualifies in spades.

  8. So, the monstrosity gets to be built. I don’t live next to the property but for everyone who does, my condolences. Once again the City of Los Angeles proves that it cares less about what West Hollywood residents want. It’s only by a fluke that the property in question isn’t in West Hollywood’s city limits. Perhaps it’s time to annex adjoining parcels of land to create a smooth and consistent City boundary rather that the strange and unmanageable hodgepodge of boundaries here and boundaries there…

    1. Do you think the City of West Hollywood would not have approved this project? After all of the massive developments within the city limits on Sunset, and the new Robertson Lane project?

      1. No, I don’t. Those projects have taught us about development folly. I think, people have learned from the mistakes…

  9. Having known Bart, all of my life, I assure you that he would approve the new project!!! He was my father’s childhood best friend and was quite a guy.

  10. Wonderful news. The Judge Mohr and the LACC have demonstrated the forward and legal conditions to go forward.

    West Hollywood will have a dynamic, creative, and iconic development for the economic growth from this outstanding architecture.

    Bravo, to both City’s and the forward thinking of the Court System. Frank Gehry’s Design will be the future of Los Angeles and West Hollywood.

Comments are closed.