Tom Bergin’s Landmark Effort Gains Another Supporter…But May Face Other Challenges

Tom Bergin’s as it appeared in 1957. Photo from the Bergin’s Historic Cultural Monument application; sourced from Bison Archives.

On Wednesday, October 10, the P.I.C.O. Neighborhood Council became the newest community organization to sign on as an official supporter of the efforts to have Tom Bergin’s bar and restaurant declared a Los Angeles Historic Cultural Monument.  The Council voted unanimously to submit a Community Impact Statement in favor of the nomination to the city.  (A CIS is an official statement of position that Neighborhood Councils can submit to city decision-makers.)

The P.I.C.O. NC represents the area between Fairfax Ave. and Pico Blvd., south of San Vicente.  Bergin’s is located a bit further north on Fairfax, in the area represented by the Mid City West Community Council, which provided funding to prepare the Bergin’s nomination, and which co-sponsored the nomination with the Los Angeles Conservancy.

“P.I.C.O.’s unanimous vote to preserve Tom Bergin’s emphasizes the strong community-wide support to save this Los Angeles icon,” said Ken Hixon, vice-president of the Miracle Mile Residential Association, in a statement to the Buzz. “Protecting Bergin’s from the wrecking ball is not just a local concern,” he continued. “Fans from every corner of L.A. have sent over 500 messages in favor of Bergin’s HCM Nomination to Councilmember Ryu and the Cultural Heritage Commission.”

But although word is spreading and community support for the preservation effort seems strong, there may also be some clouds on the horizon lending additional urgency.

Los Angeles Magazine reported on October 10 (the same day the P.I.C.O NC held its vote), that the building’s current owner, Derek Schreck, who closed the tavern earlier this year after not being able to make a go of it financially, “wants out after years of slow business” and is considering selling the building.  And if Schreck does sell, the story points out, the new owners might be more interested in the underlying land than the historic business.  In short, the story says, “declaring the building a monument may do nothing to keep the Irish coffees coming.”

According to the LA Magazine story, the MMRA and Los Angeles Conservancy met with Schreck about the landmark effort, and Schreck told them that he does appreciate the building’s history, but his financial needs may take precedence. According to Hixon, as quoted by LA Magazine, Schreck “acknowledged that Bergin’s should be landmarked, but he was worried that HCM would deter potential buyers.”  Also, Hixon told LA Magazine, “Mr. Schreck was very frank that he was under water financially and that he was anxious to sell, regardless of whether he could find another owner-operator or not.”

Schreck has so far not commented publicly on the landmark effort…but the Buzz has heard from more than one source that at least one potential buyer may already be circling the property.

Meanwhile, the MMRA is working hard to seek support for the landmark nomination, and has posted a simple support letter generator on its website at https://support.miraclemilela.com/, to make it easier for community members who would like to join the effort to weigh in individually.

 

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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.

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