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El Mirador Project at Standstill, Owner Threatens to Demolish

El Mirador owner Jerome Nash opposes the city's development agreement over the building's proposed rehabilitation and is close to disassembling the building.

El Mirador owner Jerome Nash said Friday that he and the West Hollywood City Council have come to a standstill regarding the restoration of the historic apartment building, and if the two are unable to renegotiate a development agreement, he will begin to take the steps necessary to protest the actions of the council and demolish the building.

Nash wishes to transform the historic apartment building into an urban inn, but claims that the council is set on the building being transformed into condominiums.

“I suggested we have discussions about how we can come to an agreement and they just basically pinned down something and said, ‘Take it or leave it,’” Nash said. 

At the Sept. 4 council meeting, council members finalized a rehabilitation agreement for the El Mirador, which allows for the building to be converted to either an urban inn or condominiums. A vote of 3-2 pushed the ordinance through, with Mayor Pro Tem Abbe Land and Councilman John Heilman voting against the proposal.

Nash, who bought the building in 2002, has consistently reiterated that he will not agree to the terms of a development agreement that he says has been modified to fit the preferences of the council. 

“City Attorney Mike Jenkins told me that he asked them to take it off the consent calendar so we can have further discussions," Nash said, referring to Monday's council meeting. "They didn’t want to do it.”

After much debate regarding the rehabilitation project, members of the council this week said that Nash has a responsibility to present new ideas to the council if he hopes to begin on the restoration.

"We passed our version of the development agreement," Councilman John Duran said Wednesday. "However, Mr. Nash has indicated that he doesn't agree with the terms we have set forth. So we have an inchoate agreement. In other words, no agreement.

"It's probably up to Mr. Nash at this point to come back to the bargaining table with other ideas for discussion and consideration. We can review and assess at that point. But for now, the project is dead in the water."

Mayor Jeffrey Prang said Thursday that the council has approved as many of Nash's requests as they care to at this point.

“He has the building and he has requested to do certain things," Prang said. "We granted him authorization to do some things, but at this point, it’s no longer in the city’s hand. It’s up to him. If he has a proposal that he wants to come back and submit to us, we’re certainly willing to listen.”

Councilman John D'Amico said Friday that during his short time in office, the El Mirador restoration discussions have stretched over many months, leaving all involved quite drained.

“We have very thoughtfully, over many months, tried to carefully consider all the options and bring the history of the project to an end," D'Amico said. "Mr. Nash has in his hands a development agreement that provides him with a lot of flexibility to begin to renovate that building. At this point, he has not signed it and if it’s his intention to ask us to revisit the development agreement, I don’t know of anyone who has much energy around doing that.”

According to Nash, exemptions that were offered to him during an initial agreement that he constructed with Jenkins have now been revoked by the council after his plans for an urban inn became clear. 

Part of the development agreement that the city council approved at the Sept. 4 meeting was that the city would waive nearly $1 million in fees, a majority of which would have gone into the city’s affordable housing fund.

However, if Nash chose to convert the property into an urban inn, the city refused to waive those specific fees. Instead, the council modified the agreement and it now requires Nash to pay the $924,000 into the affordable housing fund, if he chose a commercial property like an urban inn.

Duran did maintain that the council wishes to protect and restore the building, but that Nash must approach the drawing board with ideas that are in the best interest of everyone involved. 

"I would add that while we have not yet come to terms with Mr. Nash, it remains the council's desire to protect this historic property from demolition," Duran said. "We are looking for a solution that preserves the historic building, maintains our affordable housing stock and doesn't detrimentally impact the neighborhood."

Nash said Friday that he believes the council's decision to be unfair and untrustworthy.

“City Attorney Mike Jenkins and I negotiated an agreement for months," Nash said. "It was put in front of City Council and they just decided to change it. But if you come up with an agreement, shouldn’t you go to the person and tell them you changed it? They didn’t do that.

“Bottom line is, the building is sitting there rotting away, and I’m going to move forward with having it disassembled if this is the way it’s going to go.”

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RTL October 06, 2012 at 07:23 PM
Enough already with the "affordable housing" fund! This is his property and it's a historic treasure. Waive the fee and turn it into an urban inn! When I moved to W. Hollywood many years ago I knew it was expensive. I wanted to live in an expensive neighborhood and had 3 roommates as a result since I couldn't afford to live on my own. When I was able to afford to live here I bought my first home. If couldn't afford to live here, I'd simply move. I cannot afford to live in Beverly Hills, so I don't live there. it's that simple. I don't have a "right" to live where I cannot afford it. The same goes for any city in America and the world. And believe me I'm far from wealthy. I don't even work now and if I can't afford to stay here, Ill leave as I should. Save the building at any cost. If the city is so set on affordable housing, buy the building at a premium instead of a ridiculous monster robo garage. Please....the city "cares about affordable housing" and then spends millions on a stupid robo garage in a location where it's not needed.
RTL October 06, 2012 at 07:37 PM
I also understand that the city doesn't want to set a precedent for what is going on here, but maybe it should. There are a lot of extra costs that go into preserving a historic building. You have to give anyone credit who is willing to buy one and deal with the regulations that come with buying historical buildings. Historical buildings should receive an exemption from some taxes due to the increased costs of preserving the building. Yes, they get some appreciation in the building with historical status, but the costs to maintain it for such a huge building must outweigh the benefit. And Nash stop acting like a spoiled brat. Stick to your ground but threatening to demolish a historical building is childish. There must be other ways to stand your ground. Work together as adults and preserve history. Waive the fee on a case by case basis (espec. for historic buildings) and make the best urban inn the world has ever seen.
me October 06, 2012 at 07:54 PM
criticizing cathy's suggestion is not going to solve the issue.....what do YOU suggest jose????
RTL October 06, 2012 at 08:03 PM
And if Nash is going to cut corners in preserving the building and threaten to demolish the building anytime he doesn't agree with the city, then the city should just buy the building and avoid future headaches. To properly preserve a building, you must also care about the building and the community. I hope Nash is that guy. I don't know him though I've been following the issue. And in regards to an urban inn, Weho could use something like that with lots of character. The Weho trend of cookie cutter glass boxes is quite boring though they have their place too. Historical, beautiful buildings like this don't show up anymore because of the costs/skill needed to make them. Save this building.
Cathy October 06, 2012 at 08:04 PM
Honestly, my comment about the city buying the building and affordable housing was meant to be facetious. Affordable housing is a mantra for some at our city hall and to them they will do just about anything to make that point. The fact that this city was "founded" with affordable housing in the forefront has certainly changed over the decades. There should be a happy medium between the city and Mr. Nash, and yes, the extra costs for preserving, restoring and maintaining an historic building should be considered but sadly it is too late for all of that. The El Mirador is already being held hostage by both sides. Someone has to say "uncle" in order to save it. It just cannot be done without making sure it does not set a precedentfor other owners/developers of historic properties.
me October 06, 2012 at 08:07 PM
tom gilmore and richard weintraub are two people saving old buildings in LA and weho.....nash should give it to one of them :-)
joninla October 06, 2012 at 08:42 PM
I had that same FANTASTIC and practical ideal a long while back. I have since learned and educated myself about how and why weho gov't function. They DON'T give a S***t about 'affordable low income housing' or 'preservation' as they constantly tell us. Your suggest has one huge problem. It is rational, logical, creative and an objectively cost effective way to meet city goals and end this nightmare for the owner BUT THE CITY COUNCIL DOES NOT CARE. But in a normal world, I agree a great solution that will benefit owner, city, residents and budget all in one. :)
joninla October 06, 2012 at 08:47 PM
The only "Precedent" the city would be setting by allowing the owner to lawfully use his property is that if approved by the City Council ..... It would be the first time the City allowed a building project without squeezing some, if not a lot, of money out of the property owner for their personal 'election funds' or other more nefarious ways of personal financial gain for the City Council/Leaders from the absolute power they have and use without oversight, review or even the knowledge of the average resident.
RTL October 06, 2012 at 08:48 PM
Nash isn't going to "give" a building to anyone. He's a business man out for profit. What I don't understand is how he can demolish a building if it's a historical property. Couldn't he be sued for doing such a thing? Is it not registered as a historical building? And what does he expect to gain from a dirt lot. Wouldn't the value be higher selling as is? Does he really want to deal with the city trying to build a new building after a lot of bad blood from the city and community if he dares to demolish? This is just childish behavior. I don't know if this is just a business tactic or if he truly cares about preserving the building. Someone who cares about the building should buy it and preserve it. Nash if you're not that guy, let it go. If you're that guy, preserve it with integrity and you will be richly rewarded by many in the community and its visitors. And how come you don't comment on these stories...seems like this is just a game.
joninla October 06, 2012 at 08:49 PM
sorry Cathy - I missed the 'facetious' tone. I think you and I are actually on the same page and at the same ability to see what the does which are never as they say for any social good. :)
joninla October 06, 2012 at 08:51 PM
After following this for years, and after Mr. Nash spoke at a recent City Council meeting, I SUPPORT MR. NASH AND DO NOT BELIEVE ANY OF THE ANECDOTAL RETELLING OF WHAT AT TERRIBLE LANDLORD HIS IS SAID TO BE. GOOD LUCK MR. NASH.
joninla October 06, 2012 at 09:09 PM
@RTL You are very correct about this being a business decision. Mr. Nash has a history and made quite a nice profit by preserving other local such landmark historical buildings in weho because he knows the extreme value such historical details brings to the profit line. Check out the City Meeting on-line when he spoke and ask frequent commenter (who I don't personally know but think is 'Swell') Allegra about Nash and the City with respect to building, preservation and low income housing issues. She is literally the resident expert winning in the California Supreme Court a victory over the City who were trying to destroy the donated property locally called 'Tara'.
me October 06, 2012 at 09:56 PM
derrrrr, did u really think i was serious about "giving" the building away????.....if so, back away from yur computer (and this issue) and go get some fresh air
Mary Beth October 06, 2012 at 11:42 PM
I've been following this too..and let me say to Mr. Nash....dismantle it!!! If you're unhappy, and can't come to terms with the City (compromise) then do what you have to do and stop holding this city hostage! It seems that you're just as stubborn and bull headed as the Council. Enough already!!
RTL October 07, 2012 at 12:42 AM
The solution isn't to "dismantle" the building and the city isn't being "held hostage." It will go on. Destroying a historic building is far from the solution. The solution is to negotiate the terms however long it takes. The city wins with business tax revenue from an inn in the long run and so do residents from increased tourism. And it will have a fantastic building with character to be proud of. Stop nit picking over a fee that can be waived for someone having to pay a lot to maintain a historic building. Everyone loses if that building is torn down.
me October 07, 2012 at 04:25 AM
oh lord, i cant speak for mary beth, but i ASSume she really didn't meant to dismantle it......again, i'm ASSuming she meant to challenge mr. nash on HIS rhetoric as well as the city council's rhetoric.....perhaps i'm wrong.....and if i am, i'm sure to hear about it....endlessly no doubt....sigh
Cino October 07, 2012 at 01:48 PM
I'd like to ask WHY this isn't already on the national historic preservation landmark list. The mere threat of demolition does not put this man in a good light. Enough of West Hollywood's architectural history has been destroyed by greedy two bit developers who could give a damn about saving anything.
Chloe Ross October 07, 2012 at 06:39 PM
I am on the side of Mr. Nash. Clearly the city is not yet done with him and despite the so called agreement reached - the property is owned by Mr. Nash. Apparently what he choses to do with it is not part of ownership. As lovely and historic as El Mirador is - I have to support Mr. Nash in this one.. Eliminate the problem the city seems to have with this building. Disappear the building. Since this appears to be the ultimate goal of the city - then why wait. And I can assure you - Mr. Nash will not be the loser. He is well-heeled. He is also pissed off and I do not blame him.
RTL October 07, 2012 at 10:42 PM
Again, destroying a historic building over childish behavior and unchecked egos is insane. The solution is simple. Waive the fee that Nash is asking for and build the inn. Any building of historic nature has increased costs and shouldn't be forced to pay for "affordable housing." If Weho wants affordable housing, stop building monster garages and buy the building and turn it into affordable housing. If the city isn't willing to do that, then give Nash what he wants assuming he will preserve the building with integrity. And if that isn't possible, Nash please sell the building to someone with a passion and eye for preserving history.
Cino October 07, 2012 at 11:41 PM
This building was fine UNTIL Mr. Nash bought it. Zoning is something cities do. West Hollywood needs another hotel like a hole in the head. The ONLY thing this man did was take more living space off the market in West Hollywood...then pretend he wanted to "restore" it. All the while with a secret agenda to strong arm the city into doing what he originally bought it to do...which was buck the zoning laws. He needs to SELL the property. DO NOT BUY property in West Hollywood if you don't like the restrictions...that's what we tell landlords who try to abuse ownership all the time. This is no different. MORE traffic in a residential neighborhood. MORE pollution in a residential neighborhood. Classify this building as untouchable and be done with this maniac.
RTL October 07, 2012 at 11:52 PM
In retrospect, this would all be good. But the reality is this is where we are now. Someone threatening to destroy a very important building. Unless there are laws that can prevent Nash from doing this, then the city needs to either give Nash what he wants or buy it. And then learn from this issue and move forward. I still think the affordable housing fee is ridiculous and won't be used for such matters. If the city was serious about affordable housing, they wouldn't be wasting money on frivolous projects like the robo-garage. Protect the building whether the city buys it and turns it into condos/affordable housing, or give Nash what he wants and let him build an inn if he'll do it with integrity. Weho may have many hotels, but it has few boutique, historic hotels to rave about. Increased tourism is always good for Weho as without it this city wouldn't have a surplus to renovate parks, buy robot garages, spend $70K on rainbow crosswalks, etc.
Cino October 07, 2012 at 11:52 PM
p.s. Be wary of ANYTHING Land/Durand/and Heilman are in agreement on!
joninla October 08, 2012 at 06:25 AM
You might not have been following this issue and the details long enough. Mr. Nash (who I once believed until fairly recently was a terrible slumlord) is a very respected Real Estate Professional with a very high reputation in his industry for his preservation work. It is the City Council (which means John Heilman and Paul Averlo) improperly holding Mr. Nash hostage. But it's a matter of opinion and I want to start a forum for people who are in support of Mr. Nash and the El Mirador Preservation efforts after all these years. I AM FIRST ON THE LIST OF SUPPORTERS OF MR. NASH IN THE PROPER PRESERVATION OF THE EL MIRADOR AND THE CITY WRONGING REFUSING MR. NASH'S PROPERTY RIGHTS PREVENTING THE PRESERVATION. ANYONE ELSE AGREE?
joninla October 08, 2012 at 06:36 AM
i am sorry, but I think you misunderstand zoning. It is NOT the City that "Cities Do". In fact Los Angeles County Zoning over all of West Hollywood has been a major thorn in the side of the Developers and the City Council who are supported by those developers who would have overbuilt so much more than we currently have. However, though an expensive effort Heilman has managed to mislead the City and through the bogus next 25 year plan for the city (which was required by the County to change almost otherwise almost impossible to change historic zoning restrictions over WeHo from when it was an Unincorporated Section of Los Angeles) has managed to change WeHo Zoning at the end of 2011 and the Changes are only to allow more Over sized Hotels, Reduced Parking Requirements for these new favored projects along with increased height/size/setbacks/density. Watch what is soon to happen now that the new zoning plans have been approved. The robo-garage for starters. But the Big Projects are about to come (in addition to the already started 2 La Brea Mega Mixed Use Developments). Mr Nash and zoning are not part of the issue. If he tore it down, he could only build a small 4-8 unit condo on that property. Mr. Nash is not the maniac that is the cause of what you correctly predict is even more increased traffic, pollution etc...
joninla October 08, 2012 at 06:37 AM
duh! Just kidding. VERY TRUE TO ANYONE WHO DOESN'T KNOW ALREADY. :)
joninla October 08, 2012 at 06:44 AM
You can download the NEW ZONING MAP with the details of what was changed. If you zoom in and follow the color coding, you will see the changes all are for sites of existing or planned huge construction projects. http://www.weho.org/index.aspx?page=231 http://www.weho.org/Modules/ShowDocument.aspx?documentid=5137
joninla October 08, 2012 at 07:10 AM
Anyone really into this, check out what the City is doing to modify the City Ordinances specifically applicable to the El Mirador and 'Urban Inn' requirements. (notice how there are repeated final references to .. "or as established by the terms of an approved Development Agreement.". http://qcode.us/codes/westhollywood/revisions/12-902.pdf Gives the city the power to hold The El Mirador hostage to the City's absolute power through an unknown process to create a 'development agreement'
Chloe Ross October 08, 2012 at 07:26 PM
Don't underestimate Mr. Nash.
Paul October 08, 2012 at 09:44 PM
Cathy's idea sounds terrific! West Hollywood can purchase the building from Nash and WH can turn it into a homeless shelter or affordable housing for sick and the elderly. West Hollywood needs to help the poor and needy and STOP wasteful spending on painting sidewalks different colors etc...... Truthfully, that makes no sense repainting the sidewalk annually at the ridiculously high cost when people are hurting living on the streets.
Ol' Blue Eyes October 10, 2012 at 10:05 PM
I highly doubt that Mr. Nash really wants to demolish this historic bldg. It's a WeHo landmark and treasure! From what I thought, watching the Sept. 4th. meeting, the council approved EITHER condos, or an urban inn. Now...they're changing their minds, and telling him he can ONLY turn it into condos?? I do feel, personally, that condos are a better idea (max of 24, due to the limited parking spaces), but...if he's going to invest 4, 5 million dollars of his own $$$$ on rehab, he wants to insure a nice fat return on his investment. In 2 yrs from now, when all rehab/renovations are done...who knows what the market will be like? But, being in the real estate market myself...I truly feel that condos there would sell...easily. They would NOT be the usual "cookie cutter" little boxes that most condos are...these would be one-of-a-kind, unique, historic, 1929 residences. So....when you get close to needing a licensed R.E. agent to sell 'em...please LET ME KNOW!!! I'd LOVE to help you!!!

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