A vintage West Hollywood apartment building came a step closer to getting its facelift. The Historic Preservation Commission granted unanimous approval Tuesday night to a Development Agreement for the
The seven-story, 32-unit Spanish Colonial Revival building, located on the northeast corner of Fountain and Sweetzer avenues, had all its tenants evicted under the Ellis Act in fall 2010.
According to a Weho News article, the owner, Jerome Nash, spent four years pushing for renovations to the building, but was continually thwarted by various city regulations and commissions. Frustrated, Nash Ellised the building, taking the El Mirador off the rental market.
Now Nash and the city are attempting a compromise that would allow him to rehabilitate the building, which was constructed in 1929 and designated by the city as a “cultural resource” in 1992.
Nash is proposing to reopen El Mirador as an “urban inn” (similar to the San Vicente Inn), a proposal which requires several aspects of the zoning code to be amended. Thus, the development agreement between Nash and the city is needed. The City Council must also sign off on the development agreement before it is effective.
Once rehabbed, Nash could opt to forgo the urban inn plan and instead convert El Mirador into condominiums.
“The city’s goal is to get this property renovated,” said City Attorney Christi Hogan. She explained that they do not want the building to deteriorate further while it sits empty.
If Nash wanted to go back into the rental business, he would have to wait 7 years before he could offer the units for rent at current market rates. If he were to go back into the rental business prior to that 7-year waiting period, he would have to first offer the units to the Ellised tenants at rent stabilization rates.
While the Commission was generally happy with the rehab plan, they wanted to make sure the renovations were done to proper historic preservation standards. The commissioners were fine with letting city staff sign off on most aspects of the rehab, but wanted approval over certain things like plaster casing and lighting fixtures.
The issue that most concerned the Commission was the building’s windows, many of which are ill fitting and leaking. It was a window pane falling from a window frame to the sidewalk in 2006 that started the renovation controversy between Nash and the city.
Noting that the windows are a defining feature of El Mirador, the Commission wanted to have final approval over the replacement windows before they were installed. Planning Manager John Keho told the Commission they could ask for that to be a part of the development agreement, but said the final wording of that agreement would be up to the City Council.
Commissioner Bruce Kaye also expressed doubts over whether the urban inn plan was feasible, noting that access for taxis and vendor deliveries would be problematic given that Fountain is a busy street and Sweetzer is fairly narrow.