On Tuesday, February 27, the City Council’s Planning and Land Use Committee postponed its vote on the application to make Beneficial Plaza and Liberty Park, at 3700 Wilshire Blvd., a city Historic Cultural Monument. PLUM is expected to vote this coming Tuesday, the last day for City Council action.
The application filed by Friends of Save Liberty Park had been overwhelmingly supported by the City’s Cultural Heritage Commission at its meeting in December. The preservation of Beneficial Plaza and Liberty Park has become an important issue for Koreatown residents, since plans were announced by the developer Jamieson Properties to build a 36-story tower on the open space, as previously reported in the Buzz. One planning official told the Buzz that this is the first time the Korean community has actively opposed a project in the area.
Supporters of the application contend that Dr. David Lee, owner of Jamieson Properties, described as the largest private office landlord in the county, was fully aware that the City changed the zoning in 1968 to preserve Liberty Park as park space. They are asking local residents to send emails of support to the PLUM Committee members and to City Council President Herb Wesson, in whose district Beneficial Plaza and Liberty Park is located, as well as to attend the PLUM committee meeting on Tuesday.
Koreatown is one of the most park poorest neighborhoods in the city and many are concerned that more construction with little investment in green space will further degrade the quality of life in the area. Last year, the Korean Daily News reported:
There is no denying that Koreatown’s residential conditions are poor. Koreatown’s existing surface of parks per population of 1,000 in 2016 was only 0.051 acre, which was the lowest figure among the 188 neighborhoods in the city, according to the L.A. County Parks and Recreation’s recent report. The report’s findings were revealing, as it found that Koreatown, with its population of around 170,000, has as many available parks as Vernon, Calif., an entirely industrial city with only about 100 residents.
In other business, at its meeting on Thursday, the Cultural Heritage Commission advanced the HCM application for CBS Television City, 7800 West Beverly Blvd., which was proposed by the Los Angeles Conservancy in response to a potential sale of the property, as a means of making sure a design review process would be conducted if a redevelopment project was proposed.
Conservancy representative Adrian Scott Fine told the commission that the Conservancy has been in discussion with CBS and will be amending the application to add greater specificity should the application move forward. Alan Hess, who authored the application, described the building design by William Pereira and Charles Luckman as a factory where a complete television programs could be conceived and produced in one place. Hess noted the fact that the building is still in active use for its original purpose, and has been since it was built in 1952, which speaks to the success of the building. He added that the building is in pretty good condition and fulfills the required criteria for a landmark. An audio recording of the presentation can be found on the CHC website, along with the 83-page application.
Following the presentation, several residents spoke in support of the CBS application, including Keith Nakata, a location manager and chair of the Mid-City West Community Council Land Use Committee, and Amy Galaday, a member of the Beverly Wilshire Homeowners Association. Tony Ambrosio, a senior corporate officer at CBS, also spoke in support of the application. He said he wanted to confirm the collaboration between the LA Conservancy and CBS, and to point out they don’t have a project at this time and will continue to work with the community to be stewards of the Pereira building.
The Commission voted unanimously to take the application under consideration, and to adopt the staff report for approval of the nomination.
Finally, in other news about local landmarks, the Larchmont Chronicle reported a few days ago that the CHC would be meeting on Friday with developers of the old Firestone building on La Brea, about an application to turn the vacant building into a microbrewery with three other restaurant spaces. The story was picked up and reported by Eater LA, but it turns out that both reports were incorrect.
Conrad Starr, President of the Sycamore Square Neighborhood Association, checked into the report, and later posted the following on Nextdoor.com:
So no new news on this one. The applications previously reported on are still pending, with no new hearing dates on the horizon yet.