Dominguez-Wilshire Building Spruced Up by Local Architect

Architect John Kaliski shows Buzz Co-Publisher Patty Lombard some of the restoration work his firm has done recently on the Dominguez-Wilshire building at 5410 Wilshire Blvd.

We mentioned a few months ago that the Chicago-based Eleven City Diner opened last year in the historic Dominguez-Wilshire building at 5410 Wilshire Blvd., but we’ve also noticed that the overall building has been looking rather spiffed-up in recent months…and recently we learned that local architecture firm JKA, headed by architect John Kaliski, a former member of the Greater Wilshire Neighborhood Council (and its Land Use Committee), has been quietly working on an ongoing restoration of the property .

A few weeks ago, we met Kaliski for lunch at Eleven City, and he walked us through the buidling’s history and some of its most recent improvements.

First of all, according to the Los Angeles Conservancy, which calls the Dominguez-Wilshire “one of the iconic Art Deco towers on the Miracle Mile,” the building was designed by the firm Morgan, Walls and Clements, and completed in 1930.  It was the second big office tower on that stretch of Wilshire (after the Wilshire Tower, built by Gilbert Stanley Underwood in 1929). Originally, the Dominguez-Wilshire’s lower floors were leased by Myer Siegel, a womens’ clothing store.

The Dominguez-Wilshire building in the 1930s. Photo from the Security Pacific Collection/Los Angeles Public Library.

According to Kaliski, the building is now owned by Carnegie-Hill Properties, founded by Kayvon Hakim, an Iranian immigrant who began his career in the US as an elevator operator and now owns many properties in both New York and Los Angeles.  Kaliski said Hakim did a “cosmetic” renovation in 2000, under the guidance of the Conservancy, and the building received a Preservation Award from the Conservancy after that work.

But Kaliski said the building still needed some other major work after the first restoration, including seismic reinforcement, which is very expensive.  And for most of the last 20 years, the building – along with many along the Miracle Mile – kind of struggled along with low-rent tenants that made it hard to afford the work it needed.  About four years ago, however, said Kaliski, a number of tenants in creative businesses began to move in, attracted by the building’s unique combination of a “sense of authenticity” and “corporate” vibe, and rents increased enough that another round of renovations became more affordable.

Also, Kaliski said, when Bank of America relocated to the western side of the building (after Purple Line Subway construction took its old building at Wilshire and La Brea), it requested some additional improvements, which helped to move the process along…as did the addition of the new Eleven City Diner.

So since then, JKA has been working with owner Hakim’s daughter, Michelle Hakim, who has a degree in historic preservation, to restore many of the windows and doors in the ground-floor storefronts to their original widths, patterns and profiles (with plans approved by the Miracle Mile HPOZ, and the Office of Historic Resources)…and is also in the process of repairing (or replacing, where necessary) the decorative fascia panels along the building’s exterior.  (Note that – except for the entry “sequence” of the Eleven City space, which was restored to much of its original configuration while also adhering to modern ADA accessibility requirements – JKA did not work on the interior design of the restaurant, which was handled by another firm.)

Kaliski showing how glass panels in several of the storefronts have now been restored to their original widths after decades of non-conforming renovations.
A decorative fascia panel that has not yet been repaired…but will be.

In addition to the exterior work, Kaliski said JKA has also been working on modernizing some of the building’s bathrooms and interior systems, and has completed that work on the 2nd and 9th floors so far, with more to come. (And luckily, said Kaliski, says the building’s creative tenants “like the rawness,” of the building’s spaces, so the gradual upgrades are OK with them so far.)

So while the building is still not entirely restored, it is definitely an ongoing process. And in the meantime, it’s nice to see one of our local beauties slowly being brought back to even more of her original elegance.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

About Elizabeth Fuller

Elizabeth Fuller was born and raised in Minneapolis, MN but has lived in LA since 1991 - first in the Sycamore Square neighborhood, and since 2012 in West Adams Heights/Sugar Hill. She was long-time board member of the Sycamore Square Neighborhood Association, currently serves on the board of the West Adams Heights/Sugar Hill Neighborhood Association, spent 10 years with the Greater Wilshire Neighborhood Council, volunteers at Wilshire Crest Elementary School, and is the co-owner/publisher of the Buzz.

2 thoughts on “Dominguez-Wilshire Building Spruced Up by Local Architect

  1. Do you know if the large planters on the sidewalk in front are part of original design or fabricated later? They work so well on the street. We dined there last night and admired the preservation work. Thanks for telling us about Mr. Kaliski’s work and the owners. Such a gorgeous building!

    1. I have a hunch they’re recent additions. If you look at this photo from around 1955 – https://miraclemilela.com/the-miracle-mile/historical-photos/#jp-carousel-770 – there are no planters. (By the way, that photo link is from the Miracle Mile Residential Association’s terrific neighborhood photo archive page at https://miraclemilela.com/the-miracle-mile/historical-photos/ – well worth spending time on if you love old photos of the area!)

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *