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The Year in Landmarks:

Some interesting buildings received landmark designation in 2009, and a few designations were also denied via appeal to the City.

January 2009 saw the designation of a multi-family garden apartment complex at 301 Ocean Avenue. This post-World War II complex had been built and developed by former Santa Monica Mayor Clo Hoover and her husband. Despite the enthusiasm of the Landmarks Commission over the building’s style and historic associations, the City Council reversed the Commission’s decision on June 9, responding to an appeal from property owner Trammell Crow Company. The appeal asserted that Hoover’s history as a city official was not linked directly to the building.

In March, one of the sights of the Santa Monica Conservancy’s Downtown Historic Tour, The Bay Builders’ Exchange, was nominated as a landmark, and in June, the ornately decorated 1927 office building received designation. This building may have been the birthplace of the cartoon character Popeye the Sailor, although there is no definite documentation of that information.

April saw approval of an adaptive use project for a previously designated structure, a vintage Quonset Hut from the World War II era, at 829 Broadway. A five-story apartment building will be built on the site of the hut, while the hut itself will be adapted for use for housing retail businesses.

In May, the Isaac Milbanke House at 236 Adelaide Drive, a landmark since 2002 for its fine Craftsman style, was the subject of a proposal for changes to the exterior of the house and accessory structures. This proposal was approved by the Landmarks Commission but was challenged by a neighbor who filed for an appeal to the City Council. On July 28, the Council denied the appeal, upholding the applicant’s (Kelly Sutherland McLeod Architecture) changes and the Commission’s approval of the changes.

In August, the Commission denied a designation for the former Paper Mate Pen factory at 1681 26th Street. There had been an interest in the possibility of designating the building for its historic association as a center of industry in Santa Monica in years past. Despite several months of research and three PCR consultant reports, the denial was made nevertheless due to several commissioners’ doubts about the building’s architectural appeal and integrity, as well as its significance.

Another industrial-style building previously designated, the former Sci-Arc building at 3030 Nebraska Avenue, was denied designation as a result of an appeal, on September 8, by the City Council.

November saw the designation of the Shangri-La Hotel at 1301 Ocean Avenue. The Streamline Moderne building has undergone some modernization but remains a classic example of the style and is a familiar sight on Ocean Avenue.

Contact Lynne Bronstein • lynne@smmirror.com

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