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El Mirador Owner Ready to Demolish Building

Jerome Nash, owner of the historic El Mirador apartment building, says he is making plans to demolish the building after the City Council denied a proposal to convert to condos or an urban inn.

The owner of the historic but now vacant El Mirador apartment building is making plans to demolish it.

Owner Jerome Nash told Weho Patch he intends to have the building that sits on the northeast corner of Sweetzer and Fountain avenues torn down by the end of the year. Nash said he’s already gotten the application papers for the demolition and is ready to go to court to get demolition approval.

Nash’s decision comes just two weeks after the City Council turned down his request to convert the 32-unit, 7-story Spanish Colonial Revival building designed by noted architect Charles Lee into condominiums or an urban inn.

in part because of the building’s shortage of parking. Built in 1929, the building has 24 parking spaces in its underground garage. Current city zoning codes would require it to have 63 parking spaces if approved as condominiums (2 spaces per unit) and 16 spaces if approved as an urban inn (.5 spaces per unit).

The Council said an urban inn would not be appropriate for that location, even though the parking worked out. The Council said it also couldn’t approve the condos because it was reluctant to put an extra 39 cars on the street in an area that already has a severe shortage of nighttime street parking.

“The Council said it was an obsolete building because it doesn’t have enough parking,” Nash told Patch during a recent tour of the building. “The sad legacy is that the only way I can get my money out of it is to tear the building down. I’ll take it as a casualty loss.”

An ‘Art Project’

Nash, who owns multiple apartment buildings across the nation and six other apartment buildings in West Hollywood, bought El Mirador with a partner in 2002. He said he loved the building and wanted to restore the deteriorating building it to its glory.

“I viewed it as an art project,” Nash said. “I knew I would never make any real money off it, but I wanted to restore it. I have the money, means and knowledge to do it.”

When his business partner was reluctant to spend the money on rehabilitation, Nash bought him out in 2006 and started making plans for that rehab.

About that time, the glass from a 4th floor window overlooking the front entrance fell out of the frame. The city’s code compliance department cited him and shortly after that the Rent Stabilization Commission gave a rent reduction to the tenants because of the decaying windows.

Nash said he had already made plans to replace the windows, many of which were “leaking like a sieve and rotting around the frame.” He had lined up Marvin Windows and Doors, a company that specializes in replacing historic windows.  

“Everyone deserves working windows and screens,” Nash said. “I was ready to put in water-tight windows and frames, replace the pipes and paint the building.”  

Because the city designated El Mirador a “cultural resource” in 1992, the Historic Preservation Commission had to approve any replacement windows. However, the HPC did not approve that request saying the windows Nash wanted to use did not adhere to the U.S. Secretary of the Interior’s standards for historic windows.

Nash showed Patch a 2008 city-commissioned analysis recommending he repair the windows rather than replace them. He reported that the windows are not original, that they were replaced in the 1960s and many don’t even close tightly since the frames are rotting. Thus he said replacing them was the only viable option. 

After going back and forth with the city over the windows for many months, Nash said he finally threatened to use the Ellis Act to evict all the tenants in the building. After a year with no progress about the windows, he carried out that threat, emptying the building in September 2010, thereby going out of the rental business.

He said he paid over $300,000 in relocation fees to the 20 tenants who were living in the building and another $10,000 to the city for Ellis relocation counseling.

Urban Inn

Once a building is Ellised, the owner cannot reenter the rental business for five years. If he were to reopen the building prior to the five years, he would have to offer units back to the original tenants at the same rent-control prices they were previously paying. Any units not taken by the original tenants could then be leased at market rates.

Nash said he was more interested in transforming El Mirador into an urban inn. He told Patch he got the idea from the Embassy Hotel Apartments on Third Street at Washington Avenue in Santa Monica. Built as apartments in 1927, that 38-unit building has no on-site parking and states on its website that guests must park on the street. 

Nash said it was City Attorney Mike Jenkins who suggested he convert the building to condominiums. When Patch attempted to confirm that, Jenkins did not respond.

Nash said he and Jenkins worked out a development agreement offering both the urban inn and condo options. Nash wasn’t keen on the condo idea as he didn’t want to sell units, but allowed that to be one of the options offered if it would get things moving so he could rehabilitate the building.

In March of this year, the to the development agreement, but in May, the .

When the development agreement came to the City Council, it essentially boiled down to an issue of historic preservation vs. land use. The Council ended up giving more weight to the land use aspect, voting 3-2 to deny it, citing concerns about setting a precedent.

“There are many other historic properties that are also in need of repair,” Mayor Jeff Prang told Patch. “I’m willing to look at a more comprehensive review to see if we can come up with ways to accommodate these buildings. We need to find something that applies to everyone equally and fairly, not just to one building.”

Nash noted that he was not asking for any financial assistance in the development agreement except for a waiver of certain fees. He said he was prepared to completely fund the rehabilitation, an undertaking that would cost $5 million or more.

Demolition

City ordinances require approval from the Historic Preservation Commission before a historic building can be torn down. Nash said the Commission would never approve demolition of El Mirador, so he intends to bypass it and go directly to the courts.

The prospect of demolition upsets Councilmember John D’Amico, who favored working out some kind of arrangement with Nash.

“I’m concerned that we are ignoring the facts on the ground and putting aggressive public policy ahead of useful public process,” D’Amico told Patch. “I’m very concerned that Mr. Nash has all the cards and we will have to fight to save that building now. And we may loose.”

Nash told Patch the city is welcome to buy El Mirador from him, but Prang doubts that would be feasible.

“Acquiring a multimillion dollar building and renovating it would be a costly proposition and likely the wrong use of public funds,” Prang said, noting the public would have to weigh in on the matter too.

But demolition may not be the only answer left as the City Council is apparently going to reconsider the case. Nash reported that earlier this week Jenkins contacted him saying he had put El Mirador back on the Council’s agenda for its Aug. 6 meeting.

“I guess we’ll try this one more time,” Nash said. “Maybe we can work something out this time.”

Tell us what you think about this situation in the comments section below.

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Frank Parks July 22, 2012 at 09:37 AM
bravo, but the city cannot waive the five year period (i don't think) because the Ellis act is a state law?
joninla July 22, 2012 at 10:59 AM
@Manny Actually the 'Historulic Preservatuon Commissiin' didn't blow it. They concluded its historic value as they always do. If I recall correctly, the Historic Preservation Commission is made up of only hand picked apointees of the City Council Members who make preservation decisions that meet the whims, desires or improperly motivated by financial incentives to the City Council Members warchest for their continued reelection. Recall the Fickett Library. Not only was its potential for historic preservation not considered, it was demolished in a suspiciously covert manner once there was a growing public opinion that it should be preserved. Historic Preservation Commission is sham or tool for the city council members to do whatever they want or declare something historic when it wouldn't otherwise be, but they want to punish a property owner (not property owners who contribute to their campaign funds)
Frank Parks July 22, 2012 at 11:17 AM
Does anyone else find it extremely "coincidental" that Mr. Nash is the reason that the "Ellis" act (named after a senator) was made law? Small world, huh? "The Nash case was brought by Jerome Nash, who became disenchanted with operating rental housing. When Nash realized he would not be granted a permit by the city to demolish his rental units, he challenged the city’s ordinance. Although Nash prevailed in the trial court and on appeal, the California Supreme Court later opined that the burdens imposed on Nash’s liberty interests were minimal and that the city’s permit requirement was reasonably related to the city’s goal of protecting its scarce rental housing supply. The Ellis Act Provisions In direct response to the Nash decision, Senator Jim Ellis introduced, and the State Legislature adopted, legislation now known as the Ellis Act. The act expressly provides that it is “the intent of the Legislature to supersede any holding or portion of any holding in Nash v. City of Santa Monica, so as to permit landlords to go out of business.” The act prohibits any public entity from compelling the owners of any residential real property to offer, or continue to offer, accommodations in the property for rent or lease. As part of the legislative negotiations, the Ellis Act also established procedures that municipalities could impose upon owners prior to withdrawing property from the rental market." See: http://www.sfaa.org/0709williamson.html
Frank Parks July 22, 2012 at 11:20 AM
and than there is this..... "By Wealth Possessed : Love, Money and Property Don't Always Mix--Just Ask Hannah Nash and Her Estranged Sons April 26, 1992|GARRY ABRAMS | TIMES STAFF WRITER" http://articles.latimes.com/1992-04-26/news/vw-1120_1_hannah-nash
Rudolf Martin July 22, 2012 at 04:04 PM
Manny, I'm not sure the HPC is to blame, theirs is a purely advisory function from a historic preservation viewpoint and it is ultimately up to the city to enable a comprehensive solution that works for everyone involved, even when dealing with a notoriously combative property owner.
Old Neighbor July 22, 2012 at 08:30 PM
Why blame the city for Nash's game. He bought an apartment building. I don't think the city should bend the rules for him. Look at him and his record. I don't think he'll demolish the building, it makes no sense. He can't sell the land for much and can't develop much on it. The only real use is as an apartment building. I suspect Nash's plan is to put it back into the apartment market. By the time he does he'll get very few old tenants in a position to come back and he'll get more rent. If one of his games work in the mean time, he'll take it.
joninla July 22, 2012 at 09:54 PM
@Frank I think you insightful look at the underlying legal, statotory and personal feeling regarding a law passed by the State and which restricts or limits what our city council has the power to do and what they are powerless to affect by law is the key to understanding the difference between the 'public battle' we are following here as 'news' and what is really going on both behind closed doors and with the persoanl egos involved. I wil say every time the city references the "Ellis Act" it is made with such open disdain, contempt, anger and selfrightousness almost with 'god' on their side .... That the Ellis Act is evil and written only to benefit rich landlords and punish weak/poor tenants. THAT IS THE OPPOSITE OF WHAT NORMAL INTERPRETATION OF THE ELLIS ACT IS. Without the Ellis Act, tenants would have no rights whatoever and landords (people who own the property) hate the numerous restrictive and punitive legal rules preventing what would be their normal free right to use their property as they see fit. Tenants can get some relocaton fees, which without the act, the would be evicted, get nothinh, and the landlord could rerent the next day at any market rate he could get.
joninla July 22, 2012 at 10:03 PM
John Heilman (Lawyer & Professor of Law) has literally mis-educated the residents of West Hollywood on the Ellis Act as haming renters (it gives them the only protection from eviction and compensation by law) Likewsise with The Brown Act which was specifically created to open small local city government (like weho) to what has become a cronic problem of corruption without residents having any voice BUT Heilman and the City misrepresent the LAW at City Meetings by making people believe the City Council is prohibited by law from responding to public comments or questions. Finally there is the never disclosed "LAW" Heilman constantly refers to that he claims The State Requires WeHo to increase its population density, by law. As one of the densest cities in the US, the State would never require more density ... Unless it was in exchange for a promise in order to get State Money or Zoning Increases.
Ali July 23, 2012 at 12:42 AM
I think Herr Heilman and his fellow Councilmembers should work with Mr. Nash to do whatever it takes to save that beautiful building. Now that I've actually seen pictures of the inside, thanks to Mr. Mills, I am more certain than ever, that this building must be saved. I am not all that keen on an urban inn in a residential neighborhood, but it should have never gotten to this point. Mr Nash should have been able to put in the windows he had picked out in the first place. This is all the Council's fault and it is inexcusable. Now, Mr. Nash should be able to do whatever he pleases with the property once it is restored. NO neighborhood in this City has enough street parking. That is no excuse. A lot of buildings don't have enough parking for it's tenants. EXCUSES!
Evelyn Schwartz July 23, 2012 at 09:54 PM
Nash is a deceitful person, his MO is to act like a spoiled and deceitful child. Remember the motion picture, "The Bad Seed" that's him. Evil as they come
jimmy palmieri July 24, 2012 at 12:07 AM
AMEN ALLEGRA......AMEN!
Chloe Ross July 24, 2012 at 12:12 AM
The comments on Jerome Nash as a person sound like anger from Ellised tenants - which does not surprise me at all. But I think the folks who were Ellised out should consider how it all happened - it was over compliance issues and window replacement. Even a "creep" like Mr. Nash ( whom I have never met so "creep" is hearsay) is smart enough to have carefully considered his financial options when the City said no to the windows he presented. I see a punitive situation for the tenants displaced and for Mr. Nash - and I sort of think it is on the City to stand up and admit how it all happened. Mr. Nash and his prior history are not very pleasant I agree - but this one is very illogical - considering he is in the RE biz to make money and the CC have day jobs. Opens up many questions and none of them sound exactly right as far as the window issue goes. Having been Rachmaned by a slumlord in 1994 - my sympathy is with the tenants of El Mirador. I wish they had won their fight (as I did) but I would say the wrong windows are a very fishy reason to risk the tenancies of the El Mirador - I suspect there is much more to it than that.
Lynn Russell July 24, 2012 at 01:38 AM
For a look at old window restoration I offer this primer on the value of materials used in the 20's and earlier as opposed to recent replacements be they wood or clad with aluminum exteriors as apparently the Marvin Clad Windows are. I have NOT seen Mr. Nash's windows in question. http://www.caumsettfoundation.org/Caumsett_Site/Polo_Stable.html
joninla July 24, 2012 at 11:45 AM
I agree that there is something wrong with the "Windows Story" and there is obviously a sub-story going on. Not to be personal, but your own reference to willing your 'Ellis Fight' ... Your success was from what the Ellis act said that allowed you to win?? Had there been no Ellis Act, wouldn't you have lost and just been evicted on the whim of the Landlord? Just trying to clarify the law, which was written after the CA Supreme Court ruled that a property owner couldn't be forced to remain 'in the business of Renting' and the Ellis Act created numerous restriction on the ability to simple 'go out of the rental business one day, and then back once all the tenants were evicted'. Landlords DESPISE the restrictions The Ellis Act imposes, and when a landlord does choose to go through the Eviction of tenants, they pay a very high cost, and make the decision based purely on the net financial gain that will be large enough to overcome the expense (the loss of being able to rent for however many years being an enormous cost). The City has P.R.ed the Ellis Act into an evil law because it deprived the City's total power and control over all rental property in the City - overextending their authority as a city to make law and driving the eventual decision by the CA Supreme Court basically abolishing "Rent Control" with "Rent Stabilization" as the only protection to CA Renters.
Dave T. July 24, 2012 at 02:05 PM
City Council needs to reconsider and approve the condo conversion. The alternative... demolition? The Council needs to allow this even with the parking issue. I'm certain the neighbors would rather have an extra car on the street than have this beautiful piece of architecture and its history destroyed.
Daisy S July 24, 2012 at 05:00 PM
West Hollywood is being completely bullied by Nash. They should aggressively fight this & turn to enforcement. I can't believe Duran and D'Amico are in favor of this -- this is absolutely a disastrous & dangerous precedent. The lawyers for other historical buildings are loving this. Beverly Hills is in the process of enacting ordinances that prevent demolition of historically significant single family properties -- where is our leadership in West Hollywood? As far as Duran and D'Amico - I have always, in the past, voted for Duran & voted for D'Amico this last election -- NEVER AGAIN. D'Amico disclosed he has had 'several meals' with Nash -- how many has he had with citizens?-- I am sadly, disgusted. I hope Prang does not flip on this. Shameful. In addition to new City Council members - we need new City Management - Paul Arevalo needs to go and West Hollywood needs a firm much better than our highly overpaid outside attorney, Mike Jenkins. Hold Nash strictly to the Ellis Act --- Enforce every option available to the City & fight him all the way to the courts.
Daisy S July 24, 2012 at 05:11 PM
You are right - Craig Charles is an employee of John Duran & has lived in West Hollywood for a couple of years from Florida. To Compare the knowledge and experience of members of the Planning Commission to that of those on the Historic Preservation Commission, as John Duran did - is disingenuous at best.
Nour Damos July 26, 2012 at 09:08 PM
Let me get this right... the city has shot down every proposal the owner had available to make use of HIS property, but the city is now also going to fight the only option the owner has left to him, which is to demolish the building. The whole fiasco is a huge shame- its a beautiful building with a lot of soul (I pass by it at least 3X/day). Don't even get me started on the city's ridiculous kabuki dance over the window repairs. A dose of common sense in all of government, including municipal government and agencies would do wonders. Like a dam Kafka scenario....
Frank Parks July 26, 2012 at 09:20 PM
The owner is a self riotious spoiled brat that owns over 200 apt buildings according to info., can you imagine how many people he has displaced over the years? he's a spoiled little rich boy who fought with his own mother over money before she died, he got his own apt building at 17,, any of you who feel sorry for him are out of your mind, all he cares about is money, the city should do whatever is necessary to save that building . The damn Ellis act was in acted as a result if this guy.
MarkD July 26, 2012 at 10:08 PM
And let me guess, Darlene Lofgren, if council approved the plans and waived the parking regulations, you'd probably be complaining about the corrupt city council that waives regulations whenever it feels like it. Sorry regular PATCH commentors, but it's really become clear that no matter what decision council makes, you will find a reason to fault the action and fail to produce reasonable solutions that reflect a cohesive and consistent stand over time.
MarkD July 26, 2012 at 10:14 PM
And one suspects that if Jerome Nash were willing to make a deal for the additional parking, then council would OK either plan. The problem here is not the council, it seems, but that the developer wants his cake -- the building, the condos, the boutique hotel, the profits (MOST of all the profits) -- but he's not willing to figure out with the city how to arrange for the necessary additional parking. As I said above, if council had waived the parking regulations for the developer, I can only imagine what you'd be posting here about council sitting in the pockets of developers, and that developers can always get a deal from council and put more cars on the already-crowded streets at the expense of residents. Please, enough with the carping. Where is the SOLUTION in your positions? If council works with developers, you accuse them of corruption. If council doesn't work with developers, then you suggest that they should make special allowances for developers. Which is it? Where do you stand? Sounds to me like you've got a leaden foot on both sides of the line, and just stand on the one that's most convenient for criticising council. Taking lessons from Romney?
MarkD July 26, 2012 at 10:17 PM
Oh my lord, HOW MANY TIMES, Jon, have you complained about council members being too cozy with developers? Now you think they should cave into their demands! Ridiculous.
darlene lofgren July 26, 2012 at 10:34 PM
Trying to reply to Mark D - but find no "reply" near his comment to me: His words: And let me guess, Darlene Lofgren, if council approved the plans and waived the parking regulations, you'd probably be complaining about the corrupt city council that waives regulations whenever it feels like it. Sorry regular PATCH commentors, but it's really become clear that no matter what decision council makes, you will find a reason to fault the action and fail to produce reasonable solutions that reflect a cohesive and consistent stand over time. My reply to Mark: No, Mark. Perhaps that's how you feel as it's a huge generalization on your part. Be careful, if you really care about comprehending others, of lumping everyone together who do not see things as you do - and only attributing a negative explanation for their thinking. I won't do the same to you; rather, I wish you many blessings.
MarkD July 26, 2012 at 10:40 PM
Sorry Darlene, you are 100% right, and I am wrong to lump all commentors together. My only defense is that I'd had just scanned through all those comments in one reading. Still, by the same token, you may want to check the definition of "fascist" before you apply it to West Hollywood. fascist - 1. An authoritarian and nationalistic right-wing system of government and social organization. 2. (in general use) Extreme right-wing, authoritarian, or intolerant views or practice. You can say many things about West Hollywood, but I think you'd be hard pressed to prove that it is "extreme right-wing."
darlene lofgren July 26, 2012 at 11:17 PM
Again, trying to reply to Mark, but see no reply button...! You're right, Mark - WH is definitely not extreme right wing. I was using the definition for fascism in that the public owns its businesses, etc. and carries all the financial responsibility, but the government tells them how to run it in great detail; with the fundamental result, in the end, that the public doesn't really own much of anything. I do believe in property rights but I don't expect anyone else to agree with me. Especially not in WH. I place a higher respect in the private sector than I will ever place in any government.
Lynn Russell July 26, 2012 at 11:46 PM
It's a shame that many folks posting here have so few, if any, of the relevant facts but seem to have all the answers. Innuendo and hearsay don't really go far in court.
kab1200 July 27, 2012 at 02:58 AM
Wow, George, so just because someone owns a few buildings, now they are a "Donald Trump" type? He is not a developer, he is a building owner. He sounds pretty smart to me. It is very clear that the squabble over the windows created this scenario in the first place. What a load of crap. They would rather be in control than save this building.
kab1200 July 27, 2012 at 03:04 AM
The only thing interesting about the old library that was torn down was the wavy roof. I am not sure why you feel that building was so significant. Just because a famous architect designs a building, does not make it a gem. The old library was ugly. I hope they tear the auditorium too.
kab1200 July 27, 2012 at 03:09 AM
Amen!
kab1200 July 27, 2012 at 03:12 AM
So I take it, you hate people with money? What he has is none of your damn business. What pertains to this scenario is. He is a business man, and apparently, a damn good one.

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