Opinion: Relocation of Gym Sports Bar Raises Concerns & Historic Opportunity

8919 Santa Monica Blvd.

EDITOR’S NOTE: Gym Sports Bar and Grill has a Director’s Hearing on Tuesday (March 9) at 5 p.m. to apply to change its conditional use permit to allow on-site sale and consumption of alcohol for its new location at 8919 Santa Monica Blvd.

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During this horrible pandemic when other LGBTQ+ entertainment venues and neighborhood-serving businesses have permanently closed, it’s good to know that Gym Sports Bar and Grill will soon be reopening at a new location in a building which has a place in West Hollywood’s cultural and architectural history. The West Hollywood Preservation Alliance (WHPA) offers the following observations for the Tuesday, March 9, Director’s meeting regarding Item 4.A. 8919 Santa Monica Boulevard (Gym Sports Bar & Grill). The meeting begins at 5 p.m. and can be accessed on Zoom; meeting ID:96166511208

THE FACTS

1. The official address for this building, per County Assessor records, is 8917 Santa Monica Boulevard, with Assessor Parcel Number 4344-007-009. This mixed-used commercial building from 1927 is considered potentially historic on the city’s 2016 commercial survey, but nary a word appears in the staff report regarding its being a potential cultural resource.

2. Per the survey form, the building originally had two storefronts: “The two storefronts were originally separate but interior walls have been demolished to create one large space.” The western storefront now contains the recessed main entryway [that’s what appears to now be considered as 8919 SMB]. The eastern storefront has large fixed windows with no entryway [which probably was 8917 SMB in years past].

3. The commercial survey determined: “Based upon visual observation, the property retains all aspects of integrity from the period of significance; however, the integrity of design materials, and workmanship have been diminished by the alterations to the storefronts. The original storefronts openings have not been resized, but windows and doors have been replaced. Other apparent alterations visible from the public right-of-way include exposed seismic anchor plates and altered signage.”

4. Even with the changes noted above, the survey still assigned the building the Status Code 5S3 to signify that it “appears eligible for local listing or designation as an individual property through survey evaluation.”

THE CONCERNS

1. The proposed project is being identified as 8919 SMB for the Director’s hearing. The city staff report makes no mention of the survey of potentially historic commercial buildings which identified the property’s address as 8917 SMB.

It is hoped that there is not a repeat of the situation that befell the historic property at 8001-8003 Santa Monica Boulevard/1105 N. Laurel Avenue in which character-defining features were obliterated as a result of mistaken addresses, and then the Historic Preservation Commission “delisted” the building from future consideration for historic designation.

2. WHPA believes the Historic Preservation Commission should be brought into the loop and that there should be a “Certificate of Appropriateness”—type review conducted before the new project is ultimately approved. Also, it would be good to know how the city’s contracted historic consultant – Chattel, Inc. – views the proposed new project and its impacts. The changes being proposed should not alter the building so much that any future effort to designate will be fruitless.

THE HISTORIC OPPORTUNITY

Going a step further into the realm of possibilities, here’s a scenario to consider:

Property Owner Monte Overstreet, Gym Sports Bar Operator Hunter Haliniak, Local Attorney Mark Lehman, Project Designers Neil Maass and Rogerio Carvalheiro, Structural Engineer Bob Onishi, and the West Hollywood Preservation Alliance join forces to fund and submit a nomination application to designate this outstanding historic building as an official local cultural resource in the City of West Hollywood. Such a nomination would still have to clear muster with city staff, the Historic Preservation Commission and the City Council, and support of community members would be all-important during this entire process.

With the popular Gym Sports Bar and Grill readying its return, the frosting on its menu would be serving the community from within a locally designated, landmarked historic property in the city’s Rainbow District. And as we all know, it takes a village to get a property designated.

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Doug Moon
7 days ago

Lance Bass? An actor’s role-name tossing gays a bone is that function for a costly admit and downward admit to fans (they dream too and like a hot pursuit). Rage denies any such sale and are hibernating – what gives? No sale.

Mark
Mark
1 month ago

This building is an embarrassing dump. There’s nothing historic about it except that a few people with far too time on their hands think it’s historic. And the word think in the last sentence is being generous. it’s not architecturally interesting. It’s a plain squat brick building designed with a cookie cutter. To top it off it has a window air conditioner sticking out the front. Certainly we need to preserve the trailer park aspect of West Hollywood. it’s time someone sued this group and made them pay for all the delays they needlessly cause. If anything this building needs… Read more »

FJ1
FJ1
1 month ago
Reply to  Mark

Lol 👍🏻

TheyKnowWho!
TheyKnowWho!
1 month ago

So let me get this right. Gym sports bar goes “Bankrupt” because they can’t afford their old location rent or repay any of their former debtors or business partners, but suddenly they are “back” with the same exact liquor license they were supposed to liquidate during their bankruptcy, which somehow they magically didn’t. Still didn’t repay any of the debts they owed to their former partners, plus they have the gall to run a GoFundMe for the exact amount of money they borrowed from their former bank to supposedly make upgrades to the patio area of their former location, which… Read more »

Vigilent
Vigilent
1 month ago
Reply to  TheyKnowWho!

“Running a “GoFundMe for the exact amount of money they borrowed from their former bank to supposedly make upgrades to the patio area of their former location, which they mostly pocketed and divided amongst their majority investors back east”….?

Is this verifiable information? If so, how does this seep through the cracks? Would this be a tad bit on the less than ethical side or perhaps more? On top of a bankruptcy and supposed liquidation of a liquor license? How many times can someone go to the well? Hmmmm.

FJ1
FJ1
1 month ago

This “alliance” has gotten out of hand. This building is not “historic” it is simply old. The neighborhood welcomes the business to that location and cannot wait for it to open.

Scott
Scott
1 month ago

So the landlord is Monte Overstreet, the same landlord who wouldn’t renegotiate leases with Rage, Flaming Saddles, Gold Coast and Oil Can Harry’s which resulted in them all going out of business?

WehoQueen
WehoQueen
1 month ago
Reply to  Scott

Let me see if I have this right: you think Monte Overstreet should lower rent for businesses that were antiquated and which were already doing poorly due to competition from the internet, Grindr, the Trump virus pandemic etc. Monte Overstreet may be hated by some, but I don’t think he’s a dumb businessperson. If he thinks he can get more rent from some other tenant, let him try. He may fail, he may succeed. I doubt Monte Overstreet had some masterplan to get rid of gay businesses. I suspect his plan is to rent to whoever he thinks can pay… Read more »

Gimmeabreak
Gimmeabreak
1 month ago
Reply to  WehoQueen

The Trump virus pandemic?

WehoQueen
WehoQueen
1 month ago
Reply to  Gimmeabreak

Yes. The virus he decided came from China (no proof of that yet), that Trump basically ignored for months and let get out of control. A year later, we still can’t get vaccines for everyone. Compare that to Taiwan’s quick response, which to day has resulted in only ten total deaths from Covid. You might have ten on your block. It is the “Trump Virus”.

SuperVigilant
SuperVigilant
1 month ago
Reply to  WehoQueen

Medicare for all: We need a public health system on par with Taiwan. Then Gym Bar would not have needed a GoFundMe Campaign.

As I read this piece, the Alliance is merely asking for the review process to be followed despite a glitch in the identification of the street number foe this building. The Alliance does not express disapproval of the project.

Gimmeabreak
Gimmeabreak
1 month ago
Reply to  WehoQueen

I’m not sure where to even begin with you. When Trump stopped admission to this country from China, and later from any country, Biden and others called him xenophobic (I doubt you know what that word means so you can look it up). When Trump suggested the shut down of all large gatherings, Nancy Pelosi (she’s the Speaker of the House and is from San Francisco) went to Chinatown and encouraged people to go out and enjoy life. According to the Constitution the President cannot control activity in the states; that’s left up to the state’s governors. It’s called the… Read more »

FJ1
FJ1
1 month ago
Reply to  Gimmeabreak

👍🏻👏🏻

Rudi Logan
Rudi Logan
1 month ago
Reply to  Scott

Given recent history, one wonders whatever possessed the proprietors of Gym Bar to consider doing business with Overstreet. Do they know something the owners of the other bars didn’t?

kab1200
kab1200
1 month ago
Reply to  Scott

Monte sold Oil Cans, also, others were not paying their rent.

Doug Moon
7 days ago
Reply to  Scott

Flaming Saddles is at Larrabee that’s not going anywhere but shows the most signs of being pulled out. Costly to run but always strangely popular. Expensive plus no one cooks their own food, period.

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