It’s been a dozen years since Silver Lake restaurant and property owner Gareth Kantner purchased a cluster of neglected storefronts at the corner of Sunset Boulevard and Sanborn Avenue. Over time, Kantner renovated the complex – painted terra-cota red and crowned by the iconic Sunset Junction sign – and filled the spaces with upscale tenants – Intelligentsia Coffee, Cheese Store of Silver Lake and his own restaurant, Cafe Stella.
But now Kantner’s most recent change at his property – the construction of an approximately six-foot high wall in front of what will be an expansion of Cafe Stella – had attracted criticism in the form of blog comments and, as of this morning, tagging. Kantner found the words “Tear Down This Wall” had been spray painted on both sides of the wall.
The tagging will be removed but the wall is going to stay, Kantner said in an interview.
“How dare you,” Kantner said of whoever is responsible for the tagging. “I have been “trying to make this corner a wonderful place for the community with amenities that people need … it infuriates me.”
Many critics of the wall said it’s ugly and unnecessary. “On top of Silver Lake’s general awesomeness (in which Stella plays a huge role), that corner gave us something unique,” said Bob Warpehoski, who snapped the top photo. “It was a visual and visceral treat. Before the wall, the intersection had an open, inviting, and airy atmosphere. The corner was a small public gathering space, where one could meet up with friends and chat without feeling like one was blocking the pathway for other pedestrians. Now one must rush by, head down, through a corral of oppression as we try to keep this new bunker area clear of congestion.”
Kantner said the wall – which was built with permits and vetted by the neighborhood council – is designed to provide privacy for patrons and to shield school kids from the sight of people drinking. “I don’t want them seeing that,” he said. “We get privacy, and they get privacy.”
By next week, the wall will have been covered by a smooth coat of stucco painted the same dark blue that serves as the accent color of the adjacent buildings. Bougainvillaea, a wooden door and Moroccan-style lamps will be added in time for the opening of Cafe Stella expansion, which is scheduled to be open in April. “I am doing it nice,” he said.