Windsor Square Residents Riled over Dorothy Chandler Mansion Renovations

dorothy-chandler-estate-renov

A group of local residents calling themselves the Windsor Square Concerned Citizens League has created the website DorothyChandlerMansion.com to bring attention to the recent remodeling of “Los Tiempos” at 455 S. Lorraine Blvd. which they feel is inappropriate and inadequately overseen by City officials. The website is a ‘call to action’ to get people to sign an online petition and send emails to City officials asking them to force the new property owner to correct the recent exterior alterations made to the estate.  The biggest transgression appears to be the painting of the stone-colored walls a bright white, which is incompatible with the Beaux-Arts style of the original home built in 1912. Other complaints include non-permitted work occurring, incorrect size, style and scaling of new fences, inappropriate lighting, and solar panels visible from the street.

The Chandler estate is known both as an architectural gem for its Beaux-Arts style, and as a historic-cultural landmark for being the home of Dorothy and Norman Chandler, a powerhouse couple in LA’s newspaper and arts worlds throughout much of the 20th century. The Chandler estate was designated Historic Cultural Monument (HCM) #863 in March 2007 with its preservation overseen by the five-member Cultural Heritage Commission (CHC), a mayoral-appointed body that oversees the “designation and protection of local landmarks.” As a landmark, the property does not fall under the jurisdiction of the local Historic Preservation Overlay Zone (HPOZ) but under the guidance of the CHC. Many local residents were up in arms early on, believing the owner did not follow HPOZ required approvals. In fact, it was the CHC that is charged with overseeing the property.

The website charges that after complaints were aired to the City, a Stop Work order was imposed on the owner by the Office of Historic Resources, and then lifted by the City’s Historic Architect Lambert Giessinger.

“The HCM status clearly states what may and may not be done to historic structures in historic communities,” a spokesperson for the WS Concerned Citizens League said.  “Exterior renovation guidelines are clear under the ordinance and the property is not meeting the requirements.” He said he helped create the website to draw attention to the matter, lay out what happened in community efforts to curb the inappropriate work and “get matters resolved.”

The home sold to new owners in June of 2014 for $9.5M. It was offered by the Beverly Hills-based Altman Brothers, who have sold, as their website states, “over a BILLION dollars in real estate” in “high-end properties to exclusive clientele.” Realtor Josh Altman, who repped the property, is also a TV personality, with a recurring role on Bravo’s reality show “Million Dollar Listing” in which the Chandler estate was discussed in an episode. The estate reportedly was sold for cash to a Nigerian couple.  The Altman Brothers’ listing online  gives some history of the estate, but does not stress its landmark status. 

“The OHR and the CHC are very concerned about the state of Los Tiempos and we’re taking steps to encourage the owner to pursue the appropriate rehabilitation of the home,”  Ken Bernstein, Director of the Office of Historic Resources (OHR) which provides staff support to the Cultural Heritage Commission, told the Larchmont Buzz. “We are very encouraged that the new owner’s consultant is reviewing our concerns about the paint color and is considering returning to the original color. He is also already undertaking work to meet the Secretary of State Standards for Rehabilitation on rebuilding the pool house which was partially demolished by previous owners.” Bernstein also said there are inaccuracies on the website, and that they are continuing to keep the neighborhood in the loop.

The new owner’s representatives have appeared before the CHC in November and December, and members of the CHC made a site visit to the Chandler estate for first-hand observation and brought recommendations back to the table.

What do you think? Click on over to DorothyChandlerMansion.com and add your two cents, or leave a comment below.

The estate at time of selling.
The estate at time of selling.
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About Julie Grist

Julie co-founded the Larchmont Buzz with fellow buzzer Mary Hawley in 2011 and served as Editor, Publisher and writer for the hive for many years until the sale of the Buzz in August 2015. She is still circling the hive as an occasional writer.

One thought on “Windsor Square Residents Riled over Dorothy Chandler Mansion Renovations

  1. Lambert Giessinger has no interest in preserving anything. He is an architect. How this qualifies him to make permanent decisions that affect our city is beyond us. His entire office are puppets for the Council Office. No one thinks or makes decisions on their own.

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