SUNSET GORDON REDEVELOPMENT UPDATE-PEERLESS MOTOR CAR BUILDING
In August 2011, the CIM Group purchased the property at 5939 Sunset Boulevard from Washington Real Estate Holdings and announced that it planned to build the retail, office and residential project approved by the city in 2007.
This property is worthy of its place in the history of Hollywood. The original building on the site opened in 1924 as a Peerless Motor Car showroom. In the late 1920s, it was the home to The Motion Picture Hall of Fame, one of, if not the first film-related museums ever established. In 1934, it became KNX radio until 1938 when Columbia Square was built. It then became home to the Max Reinhardt Workshop of Stage, Screen and Radio. Reinhardt was a famous theater and movie director, responsible for both a Hollywood Bowl live production of "A Midsummer's Night Dream" featuring Mickey Rooney and Olivia de Havilland, but also the 1935 Warner Brothers screen version. Radio station KMPC returned the building to broadcast studios in 1944. Johnny Grant, who would become the unofficial major of Hollywood, was a KMPC disc jockey. In 1976, the building was turned into the Old Spaghetti Factory, which served diners for decades.
In 2007, concerned about the building’s history despite severe alterations, Hollywood Heritage entered into an agreement with the developer which called for the rehabilitation of the Sunset Boulevard fašade of the south side of the Building including the parapet roof tiles and windows that matched the original size of those in the Peerless Motor Car showroom, recreation of the significant character-defining features of front porch walls and columns of the Building, and restoration of the significant character-defining features of the main and secondary reception rooms including the wood trusses and fireplace.
In November 2011, the CIM Group approached Hollywood Heritage to review the building’s current conditions. The building is not considered historic due to its extensive modifications, and therefore, is not eligible for code exemptions.
After discussion of the current deteriorated condition, Hollywood Heritage and the CIM Group modified their agreement to now require recreation of critical elements of the building. To assure that the recreation work will match the original, McNeal Swasey-designed Spanish Revival Architectural style, the developer will work with Hollywood Heritage and accept any photographic documentation it can provide of the building during the 1920s time period to be recreated. The developer also salvaged and will retain materials as architectural reference for the recreation effort and work with a local architect William Roche, approved by Hollywood Heritage and with the organization included on the project design team. Extensive photographic records of the building were taken as well as architectural drawings were made as preparation for the new structure.
What does all this mean? As a result of the work of the CIM Group and Hollywood Heritage, the character of the Peerless Motor Car showroom from 1924 will soon be returning to its original Hollywood site at the corner of Sunset Boulevard and Gordon Street as part of a new development.
In this photo of the Spaghetti Factory, you can see on the extreme left and right sides of the building the way in which the original Doric columns, seen in the picture just above, have been squared off. You can also see how the portico has been altered and taller, Corinthian columns used to replace the more graceful originals. It is the plan of both CIM and Hollywood Heritage to return this building to the graceful pattern of the black and white photo. On the right you can see the fireplace and the trusses with the tongue-and-groove planks which will also be a part of the new structure.