The potentially historic mediation sessions concerning the future of Lincoln Place – a 35-acre apartment complex in Venice built in 1950 in an open, garden-like setting – have ended without an agreement among the parties, leaving the future of the property in an uncertain state.
The non-binding discussions began April 13, after the interested parties had all agreed to sit down together in an attempt to resolve issues arising out of development planned for the site just east of Lincoln Blvd. and south of Rose Ave. That agreement itself was remarkable because “the interested parties” was a big group – the property owner, Denver-based Apartment Investment and Management Company (AIMCO), which wanted to demolish at least some of the buildings (and has in fact demolished some) and increase density through new construction; the Lincoln Place Tenants Association, whose members were fighting evictions both past and threatened; the City of Los Angeles, within whose jurisdiction the property lies (as in zoning, planning, permits, and the like); historical and architectural preservation groups; and community representatives from the ever-active Venice neighborhood.
The sessions were conducted under the guidance of mediator Peter Robinson of the Straus Institute for Dispute Resolution at Pepperdine Law School. Robinson, who originally volunteered his time as “convener” of the mediation simply to bring the parties to the table, was chosen and retained by the parties to continue as the mediator.
The April 28 deadline originally set by the parties and the mediator for their resolution efforts came and went without an agreement, as did an agreed-upon May 1 extension. Then, on May 5, the California State Historical Resources Commission voted to designate the existing apartment complex as a state historic monument, providing a measure of protection for at least the remaining buildings.
Amanda Seward, one of the preservationist representatives in the mediation, told the Mirror that when she extended an offer to continue the discussions, AIMCO senior vice-president Patti Shwayder told her on May 9 that AIMCO had only agreed to participate in the mediation in order to avoid the historical designation, and that AIMCO had no further interest in the talks since the historical designation had been made.
Other parties were hopeful that AIMCO would yet come back to the table inasmuch as issues including the fate of present and former apartment tenants, the level of density proposed for the property and the traffic impact of the project remain to be resolved in addition to the definitive disposition of the buildings themselves.