Two vintage cottages at 2501 Second Street have been nominated for designation as City Landmarks by the Landmarks Commission.
The action was taken at the Commission’s May 10 meeting to delay demolition of the property in order to obtain more information about the history and character defining features of the two turn-of-the century vernacular houses, which would be presented at the June 14 meeting. Should the Commission decide against designation, demolition of the buildings would proceed under the 60-day time limit for demolition permits.
Kevin Kozal of Harding Larmore Kutcher and Kozal, representing the owners, Richard and Hilary Plaster, argued against designation. Citing a PCR preliminary assessment that found the cottages (which appear to have been built between 1902 and 1907) as having high integrity, Kozal stated “We disagree.” He pointed out that the City’s Building and Safety Department had found the cottages to be in dilapidated condition and showing evidence of mold buildup in one of the units.
Neighbors who spoke in public comment supported designation. Mike Salazar, who lives close by on Third Street, said that “demolition of these houses would be a blow to the neighborhood. This is a street that is relatively intact now. If these two houses were lost, it would change the character of the neighborhood forever.”
Another neighbor and former resident of the property, Steve Galloway, spoke of the “wonderful quality” of the houses and blamed the deterioration on neglect.
In the Commission’s discussion, Nina Fresco added her voice to those of the neighbors. “It’s very clear that this property has a lot of integrity. I don’t believe that mold is a criterion [for not designating].” She also disagreed with the findings in an independent historic assessment by Mary Jo Winder that found the cottages not rising to standards for designation and not appropriate as contributors to the nearby Third Street Historic District.
“She missed the point,” said Fresco. “This would be part of another potential historic district.”
RuthAnn Lehrer noted that there had been a few alterations to the cottages but these changes were “very minor” and could be removed or repaired.
Margaret Bach liked the possibility of the buildings contributing to a historic district. “It’s a little microcosm of Old Ocean Park.”
Roger Genser added that when the Shotgun House is moved to its planned relocation site on Second Street just north of Ocean Park Boulevard, there will be an area that will include the Shotgun House, Heritage Square on the southwest corner of Main Street and Ocean Park Boulevard, and the Merle Norman Building at the northeast corner of Main and Ocean Park. With the addition of the two cottages, Ocean Park would have an area containing thirty to forty years of historic buildings.
Chair Barbara Kaplan thought that the Commission should move forward, but cautioned that she was a little “on the fence” due to the evidence of the mold. “When we look at a building, we look at its ability to be habitable.”
With the City Land Use Attorney’s caveat that they keep in mind that they were only asking for information at this time, the Commission voted unanimously to nominate 2501 Second Street.
Mirror Contributing Writerlynne@smmirror.com