Urgent! Contact Your Councilman!
Illegal Demolition at 7054-7058 Hawthorn Ave!
Hollywood Heritage was recently notified of the illegal demolition underway at 7054-7058 Hawthorn Ave. The building in question is the historic 1941 colonial revival courtyard apartments designed by architect Gene Verge, who designed such notable works as the residence of Buster Keaton in Beverly Hills, the Jonathan Beach Club in Santa Monica and St. Luke Medical Center in Pasadena. It was identified three times as a historic resource by the former Hollywood Community Redevelopment Area in various surveys and was among the rare and finest examples of colonial revival style multi-family housing in central Hollywood.
The owners of the 7054-7058 Hawthorn, Wiseman Residential, cleared the rent-controlled tenants out of the building via the Ellis Act, while also running an illegal Airbnb operation in the vacant units. Once the building was finally vacated and without notice to neighboring properties and counter to AQMD (Air Quality Management District) rules, Wiseman Residential then proceeded with "abatement" measures, which not only targeted character defining features of the property, such as its portico, carved door surrounds, bay windows and decorative railings but also removed several façade walls as well. Alerted to the vandalism and destruction, Hollywood Heritage and other concerned citizens contacted Council District 13 and the Los Angeles Department of Building and Safety, who quickly shut down the work and closed the site.
This type of "demolition by abatement" was just carried out in December by Core Development Group owner Philip Rahimzadehon a renowned 1938 Paul Williams house under consideration for Historic Cultural Monument status.
In that case a demo permit had been pulled and put on hold, however the property owner got a permit for "abatement", which proceeded while the house was under consideration. During this work, the entire façade of the structure was torn off and all character defining features were removed. The Cultural Heritage Commission was then forced to decline to designate the building and the defaced house was lost. The city then negotiated a no-fault settlement and let the property owner off SCOT FREE, thus setting a dangerous precedent. Wiseman Residential clearly learned the lesson of "demolition by abatement" and brought this to bear on the Hawthorn property.
Wiseman Residential and its owners the Cohanzad Family have a history and reputation for this kind of chicanery. They are known offenders of tenants' rights, have operated illegal Airbnb operations, violated numerous LADBS and LA Housing and Community Investment Department regulations. They are known to target historic rent controlled, affordable apartment buildings. Their most egregious crimes have involved three historic properties, 423 N Hayworth and 419 N Hayworth both demolished in 2015, and 1332 Formosa Ave demolished in 2017. In each case illegal activity is rewarded by a slap on the wrist and blamed on bureaucratic incompetence.
This cannot be allowed to continue. Hollywood Heritage is asking its community partners to demand an explanation from CD13. Please contact Mitch O'Farrell's office, the Department of Planning and the Los Angeles Dept of Building and Safety and tell them they cannot continue to allow the destruction of Hollywood's architectural treasures. Hollywood Heritage advocates for the restoration of the building at the owner's expense or a scorched earth policy as a last resort. No other penalty will serve as a deterrent for the future destruction of our city's historic resources.
Feel free to contact Hollywood Heritage or alternatively you are invited to attend one of our weekly Wednesday Preservation Issues meetings to discuss this further.
Thank you very much for your consideration of this matter. Your assistance is crucial to this effort.
Hollywood Heritage Treasurer, Board Director
PARTIES TO CONTACT
Mitch O'Farrell, Councilman CD13
Craig Bullock, CD13 Planning Deputy
Kevin Keller, Executive Officer Department of City Planning
Frank Bush, Superintendent of LADBS
(Los Angeles Department of Building & Safety)