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Landmarks Commission Mulls Changes to Parkhurst Building: Lynne Bronstein Mirror Contributing Writer

The Landmarks Commission voiced concerns at its Monday night meeting over plans to modify the appearance of the landmark Parkhurst Building at 2940 Main Street.

The two-story Spanish Colonial Revival building houses a clothing store called Planet Blue, which is planning to add new signage, banners, awnings, and entry doors, and the Commission was asked to approve a Certificate of Appropriateness for the changes, but several Commissioners had misgivings.

Architect Melinda Gray explained that the purpose of the changes was “to make a store prosperous but to do it in the most minimalist way” so as to preserve the historic characteristics of the Parkhurst Building. She pointed out that the banners have been designed to hang from an existing flagpole on the upper front elevation of the building, that the awnings will be affixed to the windows only on the building’s southern exposure (to block the sunlight that might damage the clothing on display) and that the awnings and signage (in the form of stencils on the windows) have been designed to harmonize with the vintage look of the building while adding a more modern touch.

Commissioner RuthAnn Lehrer expressed concern about the proposed changes to the entrance, describing the more “modern” design proposed for the door as a “discordant element.” Commissioner Deborah Levin agreed, saying ithe new door design as “overpowering.”

Some Commissioners worried that the banners were to be hung in a position that might cover the ornamental frieze above the entrance. When Gray was asked if the flagpoles could be removed altogether, she said that would necessitate cementing over the holes left by the flagpoles. There was also concern about the banners flapping in the wind, but Gray explained that the banners were made from very thin metal sheets that resembled cloth but would not move in the wind as cloth banners would.

Owing to the various concerns, the Commission agreed to continue the discussion and vote on the C of A until next month’s meeting in order to give the architect time to work on the design problems. On the Commission’s behalf, Commissioner Jon Berley commended Gray for creating her design with sensitivity to the building’s history and character.

The Commission also considered whether to file an application for landmark designation for a multi-family residence at 1401 Palisades Beach Road. The building had been proposed for landmark designation in January of 2004, and was proposed again by a tenant.

According to Howard Robinson, a land use consultant who represented the building’s current owner, David Weiner, the issue was not preservation but rather a landlord-tenant dispute.

Weiner, Robinson said, wanted to convert the building into a single-family residence for himself. He had bought the building because he loved its style and wanted to preserve it and was planning to remodel the building without making any changes to its historic character. There were no plans to either demolish or drastically change the style of the building.

Commission chair Roger Genser suggested that, based on Robinson’s statements, and the tenant’s zeal in pursuing the landmark designation issue, it might be best to obtain more information about the history of the building via a consultant’s report. The Commission voted to do so.

The Commission also heard a report from City Land Use attorney Barry Rosenbaum on the history and status of the Mayfair Theatre at 210 Santa Monica Boulevard. The vintage theatre has been closed and shored up since sustaining damage in the 1994 earthquake. Subsequently, it was declared a public nuisance and the City ordered partial demolition (except for the historic façade).

The owner applied to the Nuisance Abatement Board for permission to demolish the entire structure. Eventually, a settlement was worked out between the owner and the City, which would allow the owner to file for development of a new project on the site that would incorporate the façade of the original landmark.

Rosenbaum explained that the Landmarks Commission, under this settlement, will act in an advisory capacity to the Architectural Review Board when a proposal for a new design is submitted.

Chris Harding, an attorney representing the owner of the Mayfair, said that a new design is being planned but that his client had not favored any one City agency to approve the project. The owner had merely told the City to pick the agency that would be best equipped to approve the design and the City had designated the ARB for approval and the Landmarks Commission to advise.

In other actions, the Commission reconsidered whether to file applications for two single-family residences slated for demolition. These residences, at 628 17th Street and 1327 Euclid Street, were seen as good examples of Tudor-style and Craftsman architecture, respectively, but the Commission could not reach consensus on whether the houses were worthy of designation. In the end, the Commission passed on filing for landmark designation for these properties.

Also, no action was taken on the following proposed demolitions: 848 25th Street; 1818 Pier Avenue.

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