Renovated Church at Fountain and Fairfax, New Adjacent Apartment Building Get Mixed Reviews at Design Review

1282 N. Fairfax: Methodist Church mixed use project (rendering by Plus Architects)

Plans to rehabilitate the historic Crescent Heights Methodist Church building and construct a new apartment building on an adjacent lot received mixed reviews Thursday at the Design Review subcommittee meeting of West Hollywood’s Planning Commission.

Located on the southeast corner of Fountain and Fairfax avenues, the historically designated church built in 1924 will be transformed into a space for creative offices. The exterior of the Mediterranean Revival-style building, which has not offered worship services in almost a decade, will be restored while the interiors will be renovated.

Meanwhile, the adjacent parish house which is not historically designated, will be demolished to make room for a new five-story 25-unit apartment building, designed by West LA-based Plus Architects.

The unit breakdown is 16 studios and nine one-bedroom apartments, including four affordable units with two units designated for very-low income residents and two units for moderate income residents. A two-story underground garage will have 13 residential parking spaces and 27 commercial parking spaces reserved for office workers.

The commissioners were happy with plans for the church and had few comments about that building. As for the apartment building, they felt it was headed in the right direction, but needed more work. The primary criticism was that the north and south facing sides with individual balconies for each unit ends up looking like a parking deck.

“The south and north elevations felt very much like you were comingling a parking structure with an apartment building,” said Commissioner Rogerio Carvalheiro.

View looking southwest of mixed-use project on southeast corner of Fountain and Fairfax avenues (rendering by Plus Architects)

Commissioners were also concerned about communal outdoor areas on the ground floor and fourth floor being immediately adjacent to a private balcony, saying it wouldn’t offer much privacy to the residents of those units.

Commissioner Sue Buckner also felt the studio apartments were too long and narrow and therefore were unattractive. Commissioner Lynn Hoopingarner was concerned the studios didn’t have enough storage space and felt the kitchen areas needed to be rethought.

During the public comment period, resident Lynn Russell criticized the sharp contrast of styles between the old building and the new building.

“The main event is the church, but I know the main financial event is the development. If there was a way of getting more harmony between those two that would really be wonderful,” said Russell. “It really has a very harsh presentation to it.”

However, Hoopingarner liked the contrast, while Carvalheiro said the two styles allow each building to stand on its own with no doubt which is historic and which is new.

Los Angeles-based Alpine Equities, LLC is developing the project which next goes to Historic Preservation Commission for review.

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Vigilent
Vigilent
4 days ago

Although shocking but not surprising, the HPC Commissioners apparently found this disparate building less objectionable that the 923-931 N. Palm Avenue Project which failed to obtain their endorsement. Who was being pleased here? Certainly not the humble Methodist Church which appears to be a pawn obscured by rehabilitation promises and Mills Act benefits. It’s always good to know that folks can discuss historic preservation with barely an ounce knowledge and/or conscience. Very troubeling.

Josh Kurpies
Josh Kurpies
1 month ago

Can someone help me with the math on how a 25 unit building with 20% affordable equates to 21 market and 4 affordable?

21 market + 20% affordable = 26 units
(21 x .2 = 4.2 affordable units which rounds to 5 affordable units)
21 market + 5 affordable = 26 total units

Is it because the very-low income units count for more than 1?; or
Does 4 units plus a fraction of a unit no longer equal 5?

WeHo Dave on Kings
WeHo Dave on Kings
1 month ago

It sounds like their definition of affordable is “smaller”.

Jan
Jan
1 month ago

‘So, where do you live?’
‘Oh, the parking garage building on Fairfax.”

Vigilant
Vigilant
1 month ago

Unfortunately there seems to be an abundance of applicants bringing projects to Design Review missing their main ingredient DESIGN INTEGRITY which presumably would be compatible with and/or enhance the neighborhood in a holistic manner. However we often see INVESTMENT OPPORTUNITIES contrived to “conform to portions of the code” devoid of neighborhood compatibility also included in the West Hollywood Code. With little awareness of the surroundings and sense of place, they have overlooked the opportunity to give anything to the neighborhood. Design integrity should be a starting point in every project appropriate to the developer’s budget. Great cities of the world,… Read more »

sheshelarue
sheshelarue
1 month ago

Horrible, gentrified design. 50k a month for a 1200 ft 1 bdroom anyone? Yes and the leaders of weho failed miserably when they started selling out to big developers smh…

David
David
1 month ago

This design work is a mess.

WeHo Poster
WeHo Poster
1 month ago

Not enough residential parking

Tom
Tom
1 month ago

Did I read this right? 25 units (4 affordable- gee, thanks!) and only 13 parking spaces? Does that seem like a good idea at that corner?

FJ1
FJ1
1 month ago
Reply to  Tom

They’re doing this all over. There’s a multi-story building being proposed for Norma Triangle 90+ units and only 18 parking spaces!! Where the hell are all the extra cars flooding into the neighborhood suppose to go? Our “leaders” don’t know what the hell they’re doing. They know they need housing but they’re going about it in all the wrong ways. Coming to your block soon. Remember them come voting time.

Christopher McDonald
Christopher McDonald
1 month ago

There are so many amazing ways to mix old architecture with new architecture that provides a wow factor. This design has none of that. Old and new mixed architecture can provide some of the most exciting designs, but these renderings are just unappealing on most levels. It looks like a cheap stucco box (much like most new buildings in Hollywood) with floor tiles on the top level exterior walls. And I also thought it had parking garage looking elements to it. Where is the innovation? We can and should do so much better than this.

Jim Nasium
Jim Nasium
1 month ago

were you at the meeting?

FJ1
FJ1
1 month ago

It is a horrible design.

Bob Kellerman
Bob Kellerman
1 month ago

Not mentioned is the fact that the apartments on the North side of this very poorly designed building would be very dark because of the enclosed balconies I’m very familiar – intimately familiar- with the church building. It’s a wreck, and the tall church and social hall spaces are very poorly suited to offices. MUCH BETTER TO TEAR IT DOWN AND BUILD ONE COMPLEX IN AN INTEGRATED STYLE WITH OFFICES AND APARTMENTS The Spanish colonial revival theme of the church could be carried out, honoring the history but using the land in a much better way The church is not… Read more »

Roy Oldenkamp
Roy Oldenkamp
1 day ago
Reply to  Bob Kellerman

Of course, the church is historic. The adaptive reuse of the space is not an overwhelming challenge-it’s done all over the nation, as religious orgs’ memberships decline. The main room is quite beautiful, and the massive meeting room is also inspiring. The Secretary of the Interior Standards state that new architecture should not emulate or imitate the historic resource, so that is why an early Spanish Revival style building is not a good option. This is just mediocre design. This could work, with a thoughtful renovation and dynamic adjoining architecture.

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