The West Hollywood City Council denied a plan for rehabilitating the historic apartment building during its Monday night meeting, but invited the owner to resubmit a plan taking Council comments into consideration.
Built in 1929, the 7-story, 32-unit Spanish Colonial Revival building that sits on the northeast corner of Fountain Avenue and Sweetzer Avenue has been vacant for the past two years.
Jerome Nash, who bought the deteriorating building in 2002, tried for four years to do renovations, but said he was continually thwarted by various city regulations and commissions. Frustrated, Nash evicted all the tenants under the Ellis Act and went out of the rental business in fall 2010.
Since the city doesn’t want to see El Mirador deteriorate further while its sits empty, the city and Nash worked out a development agreement to rehabilitate the building and then reopen either as an urban inn or condominiums.
The Council began hearing this proposal when it couldn’t reach a consensus.
Councilmembers John Duran and John D’Amico were in favor of working out some kind of agreement for the property saying they didn’t want to see this “jewel” deteriorate further and possibly face the wrecking ball.
Councilmember John Heilman and Mayor Pro Tem Abbe Land didn’t want to see El Mirador demolished, but also worried about setting a precedent since there are other historic apartment buildings which may want the same deal.
Mayor Jeff Prang, who had to leave early, said the city shouldn’t be creating solutions for a single property and needed to establish a uniform policy for all historic properties.
D’Amico, who is an architect and has helped rehabilitate other historic buildings, said the city must act quickly because El Mirador will likely only last another 12-18 months before the roof collapses.
Parking became a central point of debate as El Mirador only has 24 parking spaces in its parking garage. If approved as condominiums, the city zoning code would require it to have 63 parking spaces – 2 spaces per unit. If approved as an urban inn, the code would only require 16 spaces – .5 spaces per unit.
Prang said he didn’t feel an urban inn was appropriate for that location, even if the parking did work for the urban inn plan.
While the Council was more open to the condo conversion idea, it was reluctant to put an extra 39 cars on the street in an area of town that already has a shortage of street parking.
In the end, the council voted 3-2 to deny the request without prejudice. D’Amico and Duran voted against it.
By denying the request without prejudice, Nash can return to the Council with a new proposal without going through the application process again. The Council encouraged Nash to come up with a proposal that combines the condo and urban inn ideas that works out to 24 parking spaces.