The environmental impact report on the proposed hotel and shopping plaza on Robertson Boulevard known as Robertson Lane will be presented to West Hollywood’s Historic Preservation Commission on Tuesday.
The commission will meet at 7 p.m. at the Plummer Park Community Center, 7377 Santa Monica Blvd. near North Vista. The meeting is expected to draw a large crowd because of the project’s location on the site of the Factory, a building at 661-665 N. Robertson Blvd. that in February was designated as eligible for listing in the National Register of Historic Places
An EIR identifies and examines likely environmental effects of a proposed project and proposes measures to avoid, reduce or offset them. The 343-page report was commissioned by Faring Capital, the developer of the project, and prepared by Dudek, an environmental impact consulting firm in Pasadena. A full copy can be found online.
At a meeting in December 2014 area residents raised questions about a variety of possible impacts of the project, including shade on nearby buildings and lack of parking during its construction. But the biggest issue, which is likely to dominate the discussion on Tuesday, is preservation of the Factory building.
Those who argue for its preservation note that it was home from 1929 to 1946 to the Mitchell Camera Co., manufacturer of Hollywood film equipment, and from 1974 to 1993 to Studio One, the gay nightclub.
Jason Illoulian of Faring Capital has said that he intends to restore the Factory, re-orienting its location on the project site. The Robertson Lane project will include a hotel with more than 250 rooms, underground parking with more than 1,000 spaces and cafes and small retail spaces. The project also will include a 30- to 35-foot-wide lane providing a visual and physical connection between Robertson Boulevard and La Peer.
The draft EIR notes the history of the Factory and of its various alterations over the years.
“The Factory building has had numerous uses and occupants over time, and has been altered to accommodate changes in use,” reads the EIR. “Some of these changes are associated with significant periods of the building’s history, and certain alterations associated with those periods are considered to have attained significance in their own right. The following description of the building’s construction and alteration history places changes to the building within the chronology of the building’s identified periods of significance.
— 1940: Construction of a two‐story office building at its north elevation, west (to the rear) of the 1929 office building.
— 1942: Addition of employee restrooms and locker rooms.
— 1943: Construction of a one‐story building assumed to be the adjacent plumbing and woodworking building at the northwest corner of the property (no longer extant).
Alterations made to the building between its period of significance as the Mitchell Camera Corporation factory and its period of significance as Studio One (1974‐1992) include the following:
— 1952: Addition of a loading dock to the building’s south elevation … Several additional alterations were identified through an inspection of the property, an assessment of historic photographs, and additional property‐specific research:
— Complete alteration of the Mitchell Camera Corporation office building. This building, which was constructed in 1929 as a one‐story Art Deco building to house the Factory building’s office and administrative functions, has been modified in such a way that it does not retain any of its original Art Deco features.
story nightclub entrance, the addition of an exterior staircase, and the construction of a patio area accessed via French doors.
— Addition of the south elevation to accommodate another commercial entrance.
— The modification of the west façade to accommodate a new nightclub entrance. The Studio One entrance was fronted by a fabric canopy; this canopy has been removed and replaced with a large steel canopy.
— Numerous interior alterations throughout the history of the building, although little is known about the extent and dates of these modifications.”
According to the EIR, Faring’s proposal to restore and preserve the building “would involve disassembling the 24,990 square foot Factory building and its 6,764 square foot former office building (which has been significantly altered in its conversion to a restaurant) and the reassembly of an approximately 140-foot-long, two-story portion of the originally 240-foot-long building.
“The building would be repositioned from its current location spanning east-west between Robertson Boulevard and La Peer Drive to a new location onsite. The building would be situated on a north-south axis along Robertson Boulevard at the eastern edge of the project site. The current Robertson Boulevard façade of the Factory would face north onto the open-air paseo. The north-facing façade would be restored to its original factory appearance, including the replacement of non-historic windows with salvaged original windows, conservation and reuse of original embossed steel cladding, and removal of non-historic elements such as an exterior staircase.
“The length of the building along Robertson Boulevard would incorporate new storefront entrances for commercial tenants but would otherwise be restored to its original factory appearance. The current La Peer Drive façade would face south under the proposed reconfiguration of the building. The south-facing façade would be restored to its original Studio One discotheque appearance.”