A Superior Court judge today rejected a challenge by the Los Angeles Conservancy to the City of West Hollywood’s approval of the Melrose Triangle project.
The Conservancy, an organization focused on preserving buildings that it deems to have historic significance, had claimed that in preparing its environmental impact report the city did not adequately consider an alternative that would preserve the Streamline Moderne building at 9080 Santa Monica Blvd. That building will be demolished for the project.
Melrose Triangle, a development of the Charles Company, will sit on a 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. Supporters of the project have described it as a dramatic eastern gateway to West Hollywood.
Those who campaigned against demolishing the 9080 Santa Monica Blvd. building argued that its design was architecturally significant. 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.
In his ruling, Judge Richard Fruin Jr. said 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.”
In his decision, Fruin also noted that the 9089 building was damaged by a fire last May. A damage assessment report prepared for the city said that 25% of the building’s floor area was damaged beyond repair and requires demolition and removal.
The Conservancy has 60 days to appeal Fruin’s decision.