Janes House: The
only remaining house in the Hollywood Boulevard Historic District is this 1903
Queen Anne home at
The courtyard was never a success in appearance and slid
into disrepair. Recently purchased by restaurateur Adofo
Suaya, the retail area went through an extensive
redesign and repair, with new landscaping. The result is spectacular, with a
development that is now much more sympathetic in design and with new quality
tenants already arriving. The site is also important as the transition center
for over 500,000 Hollywood visitors who go through here for Starline
Tours, serving as their first glimpse of
Plans for the house itself include converting the empty
landmark into a restaurant. Mr. Suaya, has purchased two other buildings in the Historic District
and plans more restorations and fine restaurants (his Gaucho Grill and Fried
Bananas restaurants will be opening at the landmark northeast corner of
Hollywood Bowl Landmark Designation: After
demolishing the historic 1929 Hollywood Bowl Orchestra Shell last year, the
A letter was written (see our web site for the full text) but it was not what the county had requested. Hollywood Heritage submitted section-by-section reasons for denying any such nomination according to the code as used by the U.S. Department of the Interior. The county was to have submitted their ruse in July, but as of late September, no such request had been made. A phone conversation with the State Office of Historic Preservation (which oversees nominations) confirmed our position to the county, stating that the existing facilities would not qualify for landmark status. At least in this case insult will not be added to injury (or rather, demolition).
Hollywood / Orange Development: The proposed project to build a 2-story (rising to a peaked height of 114 feet) “modern” glass box with extensive signage and a partially outdoor nightclub for 750 people next to Grauman’s Chinese Theater, continues to be challenged by Hollywood Heritage. After the denial of our appeal by the City Planning Department on the basis that we did not receive a receipt for our check (the first time such a denial has been made according to the city) Hollywood Heritage filed a complaint with the department’s head, Robert Janovici. He then sat on the letter from our attorney for three months after telling us it would be sent to the City Attorney.
In September, Mr. Janovici informed us that he had not sent the letter to the City Attorney, as would be normally done with legal challenges, and instead reaffirmed his position. Our attorney, Hollywood Heritage Board member Andrew Schwartz, filed a letter directly to the City Attorney at that point. If no further response is given, legal action will proceed against the city to demand that the appeals process be followed in the normal legal manner. If this is not done the head of the City Planning Department, Mr. Janovici in this case will be allowed to rewrite city laws as he sees fit, thereby endangering the project review process by which the city’s neighborhoods and landmarks are protected.
Hollywood Heritage thanks our attorney, Andrew Schwartz, who is donating his services, and Councilman Eric Garcetti, who continues to support our request for the appeal.
As enough land would exist to build the station and save the building, the approval for demolition would be impossible to justify. The structure is a solid concrete building and in good shape. What the city would do with it is open for discussion as a sale or eminent domain of the property would remove the current owner/operator of the nightclub there.
The discussions are still in the early stages for this project, but Hollywood Heritage will continue to be involved to make certain that landmark is protected and that the city makes appropriate reuse of it in a way that protects its history and benefits the neighborhood.
New Signage Ordinance: In October the city adopted
a new series of regulations regarding billboard and other types of signage. The
results will include new rules as well as a net reduction of billboards
citywide (regular enforcement could have done that as it is estimated that
almost 30% of the billboards in
Plans have been made to cover or top many
I need only remember how at one early meeting of the new
signage task force one property owner referred to Blade Runner as a
positive look for Hollywood, with its overuse and overpowering imagery of
advertising signage. When I explained that the movie’s vision was meant to be a
depressing vision of
Ambassador Hotel: The long-running battle (since 1989) over the fate of this 1921 landmark hotel was voted on by the Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD). Under the approved plan, the entire site would be demolished except for the Coconut Grove, the Paul Williams designed coffee shop, and the ceiling of the ballroom. The pantry where Robert F. Kennedy was assassinated in 1968 would be dismantled and be reassembled somewhere, as per the findings of a “university level” panel of experts (one might hope that this “panel of experts” includes former mayor Richard Riordan, close follower of the LAUSD and the owner of The Original Pantry restaurant).
The environmental review process for the hotel was flawed and little support was given to reuse of the hotel and its surrounding structures. A major compromise was offered by LAUSD board member David Tokofsky at the October 14 meeting that would have saved the main hotel structure for adaptive reuse, build all the new school facilities as required, and use no school funds for the preservation elements, as several speakers demanded.
Tokofsky asked for a 30 day extension to review the new plan, but the board refused, preferring their compromise plan that would preserve a generous 5% of the historic structures. Even though state law requires mitigation according to the California Environmental Quality Act, there were those who apposed any mitigation and simply decided that this project was above state law, though they are quick to demand state funding for the new school to be built on the site.
No one argues the merits of building a new school, even though attendance figures at LAUSD are dropping thousands below projections. But, after this much time and money has been spent it only makes sense to review all possibilities to build and fund the school according to the law. What example is being set for students if they are taught that if you don’t like a law, go around it?
The battle to do this has been spearheaded by the A+ Coalition, a group of over 60 organizations, neighborhoods, and unions, including Hollywood Heritage. The lead organization of the A+ Coalition has been the Los Angeles Conservancy, which is now weighing its legal options for itself and the coalition. Watch our web site for further updates.
The massing and facing of the new restaurant will be
complimentary to the clapboard sided church, based on one in
The landscaping surrounding the church, will be restored with references to the 1910s when it was part of the Bartlett Estate, which was originally on the site. Landscape design students from Cal-Poly Pomona are preparing a report on the plants, shrubs, and trees to determine which are from the estate; which are original to the 1934 church; others that were sent from around the world by the church’s missionaries; and which have simply grown up wild. The grounds will then be restored as part of the project, back to a more historic appearance (they are part of the city’s landmark designation).
Some modification will be made to the site’s many paths and terraces to meet current handicapped access codes (these areas have also changed over time). The final result will make the grounds and church available for -weddings, events, and outdoor dining as part of the new restaurant. The church will also serve as a dining are for the restaurant. A spa might also be included within the new building.
Beside the historic issues, concerns of the adjacent historic craftsman homes to the east are being included to minimize noise, parking, and height issues. Overall the project gives the church and its lush grounds their best chance to survive intact and provide economic support to maintain them without compromising the neighbors.
Hollywood Heritage will continue to work with the parties on this important project. The next newsletter will present a more detailed look at this project. Many have assisted in working on this project including owner/developer Vytas Juskys, his planning consultant Elizabeth Petersen Group, architect George Kelly aia, neighbor Bill Buerge, CRA planner Kip Rudd, Cultural Heritage commission planner Lambert Gessinger, 75 students plus teachers at Cal Poly, and Councilman Eric Garcetti and his planning deputy Alison Becker.