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Sunday, July 13, 2014

Demolition crew catches up with Echo Park Craftsman apartment house

Workers began tearing apart an Echo Park Craftsman-style apartment building today that was moved to its current location more than than 2-1/2 years ago to save it from demolition.

The two-story structure avoided being torn down in late 2010  to make away way for a new retirement apartment complex at the corner of Glendale Boulevard and Park Avenue.   Instead of knocking it down, the owners of the building -  The Foursquare Foundation, an affiliate of Angelus Temple – agreed to move the apartment building three blocks to a temporary site at the corner of  Park and Echo Park avenues until a buyer and a permanent home could be found.  But after a potential buyer failed to have  the Craftsman relocated,  the owners moved ahead with the demolition of  the 101-year-old apartment house.

The Foursquare Foundation agreed to move the apartment house instead of demolishing the structure following talks with the city and the Echo Park Historical Society (The Eastsider is a board member).  It’s not known what Foursquare Foundation or Angelus Temple, which owns the lot across from Echo Park Lake, plans to do with the property after the building is torn down.

Until the Craftsman-style building was moved to the lot in January 2011, the property had been vacant for about a decade after an apartment building once located on the same site collapsed, killing one man and injuring more than two dozen.

28 comments

  1. Obviously and understandably tha author of this article was upset giving up the following typo’s…

    “But after a potential buyer failed to find a new location, building owner Foursquare Foundation, an affiliate of the nearby Angelus Temple, moved to tear down the 101-year-old structure *torn down.”

    and..

    “It’s not *know what the”

    • Sad to hear this news. I looked forward to the restoration. I’m speculating but I bet that part of the approval process for permitting that “low-income retirement home” (haha $1600 for a 1BR) was to relocate and restore that bld not tear it down. But were dealing with god hear so we should let that church do what ever it pleases with our neighborhood…

    • It was tough for awhile, but I finally managed to wean myself away from pointing out the spelling mistakes of others, primarily because I’m only all too capable of making my own. To those compelled to armchair edit I recommend placing terrific importance on keeping one’s comments error-free. Point of order: the plural of typo is not the singular-possessive “typo’s,” but rather “typos.” May we all now proceed into the future better informed.

    • Does anyone know what the construction happening on the hill on the east side of echo park avenue is about and how long it’s going to take? We live in the brick apartment building on EP ave and DAMN, the construction trucks are loud and start really early. Any information about what’s going on and how long the racket will go on will be helpful. Thanks. Brian.

  2. Did they demolish without input from the Historical Society or city? There are any number of places this building could have been situated on, it’s just wrong.

  3. Bummer they didn’t salvage any of the windows, doors or lumber

  4. Ultimately, sadness – but at the same time, this decrepit structure has been an eyesore on that corner for too long. I remember the night it was moved and now it just looks like that was an enormous waste of money. But here is something I want clarified: wasn’t the lot it sits on the one that had a fake “Coming Soon: Echo Park Dog Park” banner put on it months back? If so, I remember that the Archdiocese of L.A. – the owners of the lot – said they had no such intention. But it makes more sense that FourSquare would own that lot. Have I confused my fake dog parks?

  5. Lot you’re thinking is about half a block south of this location — but terrible to see this old thing go. It was always there (at orig corner) when I was growing up, glad it got moved. Sad now it’s dust.

  6. This is an outrage! All they had to do was place a sign on that fence that said “This building needs a home. Free to anyone that is able to move this building to a new site. This was done with the 4-plex craftsman next to the new library and countless other buildings. The church, once again, proves to not care about the historical significance of Echo Park’s past. The wood, the windows, the fixtures, etc. could have been offered for free, but now all of that will be dumped into a landfill? What would Jesus do?

    • I think it’s pretty tough to find an appropriate site that meets all the criteria. My understanding is that they have to map out the entire route and pay city workers to remove any obstacles (if necessary). I would think there would be someone with some desert property who might have taken the house, but I imagine it would cost upward of $60,000 just to transport the house, not to mention the cost of pouring the foundation and anchoring the house to the foundation – then rehabbing the interior, which might not have had many original features left.

      I agree that it’s a shame they weren’t able to salvage any of the building materials, but the second-floor windows don’t look original, I’m sure they already took out the (copper) electrical wiring and pipes (if they weren’t galvanized), and I don’t know if it would be worth exposing oneself to asbestos and other hazards to cut out the meaty 2×4 studs and 2×12 (?) joists. Still seems wasteful. It’s even worse when I see those huge Las Vegas casinos imploding so the developer can put up something more modern.

  7. This is absolutely disgusting. I walked by that structure not too long ago, and although it was in beat up condition, it was completely restoreable. If anything, there were windows and doors and other fixtures in the house that could have been sold to architectural salvage; I noticed some wonderful old doors while peeking through the windows.

    What is the Echo Park Historical Society doing while things like this happen? Are they just sitting around twiddling their thumbs? Who approved and/or allowed this without any input from an agency that has knowledge of historic structures and architecture? Not to mention — shame on the Foursquare Church! They can take their god awful ugly and overpriced “senior apartments” and their waste of a parking structure (way to be neighborly and let the community use it when Jesus Time isn’t in session!) and shove it where the sun doesn’t shine. Karma will get these greedy folk in the end, I hope.

  8. The cost of moving it somewhere else and restoring it would have been in excess of the cost of building something brand new, with modern systems, from scratch. That kind of uneconomic decision is warranted when you’re talking about a truly special piece of architecture.

    But that structure wasn’t anywhere near unique/special enough for that kind of treatment.

    • There’s a vacant lot listed nearby for 360K. http://www.redfin.com/CA/Los-Angeles/230-N-Westlake-Ave-90026/home/22511418

      If they could have moved it there and restored it all for around 150 – 200K and then rented each unit out for around 1K per month that would have been a win-win-win … for the church, the building and the community.

      • I think LARD 1.5 means one dwelling unit per 1500 square feet of land, so a 6000-square-foot lot could possibly support a new four-unit building – one that meets all the current seismic and safety codes. It would cost a lot more than $150,000-200,000 to move this old building and restore it – if it’s even possible to bring such a building up to current codes. Plus, the lot is 50 feet x 120 feet, and I’m skeptical that the old house would even fit on the lot and still have the proper setbacks.

        • Good points James. It would’ve been nice to see a public conversation like this though over the last six months to try to find a solution.

  9. Good god not a day too soon.

  10. i hate that church & everything its doing to our neighboorhood. yeah its great the troubled houths pick up the garbage weekly but the permanant scarslike the giant parking lot, expensive “senior” living built by demolishing 1/2 dozen homes & now the demo of one of the few craftsman apartmets left! my question from the beginning has always been & remains WHY NOT PERMANENTLY PLACE IT ON THE “temporary” LOT?! kinda seemed like an obvios solution & might have made up for their crimes against echo park.

  11. I’d rather look at an empty lot than a bombed out house any day. Maybe it was beautiful at one time but that thing has been gutted for a while now. I’ve also seen plenty of sketchy situations going around there during the AM hours. I don’t even want to know the things that went on in there.

  12. Good to see everyone in Echo Park still knows what to do with other peoples money, property and assets. I’ll be sure to gather your input when I need to make a decision that involves none of you.

  13. Always sad to see a 100year old craftsman bite it. But after 2.5 years just propped up and no takers and probably just an not economically viable to move again and restore this is what it comes to, such is life. I never realized the history of that vacant lot, how a building collapse of some 77yo building back in 2000 actually killed someone and injured 22 people — crazy. We need a builder to bring some life back to that corner and get rid of the bad juju..

  14. Good riddance. Who the heck wants to live in a 101-year-old wood frame apartment building that’s not only been shuttled around Echo Park on a flatbed, but has been sitting for almost three years on an empty lot at the mercy of the elements? The thing looked like it would fall down in a good breeze.

    As for moving it any further, you could build a brand-new two story apt house for less than it would cost to drag this bedraggled old building around town. There are about 1000 similar Craftsmen apts in LA, let this one go.

    • Not everyone wants to live in some modern abomination. And you’re totally wrong — these structures are rapidly disappearing from the area.

      It’s important to preserve the history of Echo Park. 100 years ago, it was the “Place to Be” in Los Angeles. Anything we can do to keep some of the ties to EP’s vibrant, glorious past for future generations should be supported and not scoffed at simply because you like “modern amenities.” If you want granite counters and boxy buildings, may I suggest moving to the Westside?

      • I didn’t realize the injunction included granite.

      • So what exactly did YOU do to help save this building? You offer to buy it? Pay for renovations? You have an empty lot in EP somewhere you’re willing to donate? Everyone always whining about what THEY should do to “save” these old houses, but almost nobody is willing to DO something to save them. There are TONS of similar building all throughout LA. Do you live in one? I doubt it. And why don’t you? Because there are TONS of them that look just as shitty as this old thing. Maybe you should put your $$ where your mouth is, buy up an old Craftsman apt house, and FIX IT UP!

        Yeah, right.

  15. This outcome is a disappointment, but not a complete surprise.

    To answer questions about the Echo Park Historical Society’s response; I (president of the EPHS until last year), along with a handful of board members and others, negotiated with the Foursquare Foundation regarding the senior housing project and the demolitions it would require.

    For about a year, we had numerous meetings with the Foursquare Foundation, their consultants, their lawyer(s?), Mitch O’Farrell (of CD13 at that time) and City staff from the offices of Historic Resources and Planning, whose job it was to implement the design district that governs the area around the lake and that we had helped to implement just a year or two before: http://cityplanning.lacity.org/complan/othrplan/pdf/EchoParkCDOGuidelines.pdf

    During our negotiations, despite our very different perspectives, we were able to come to a working understanding. We were able to substantially influence the massing and details of the new buildings to better fit the design overlay while also giving the most notable threatened building, this one, a realistic shot at preservation.

    In real terms, Foursquare Foundation went above and beyond their obligations to make this building available for preservation. They were willing to give the building away and include a generous payment toward rehabilitation. They didn’t have to do this. While nice, the building was not recognized as “historic” and was unlikely to be. But, they wanted to be good neighbors and they wanted to do what was necessary to expedite construction of the new senior apartments, an investment that would generate funds for the Foundation’s activities.

    It is worth noting that, at one point, one of their lawyers gave us indications that they were merely humoring us and that they weren’t subject to local zoning because of federal law governing churches: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Religious_Land_Use_and_Institutionalized_Persons_Act. This, despite the fact that the Foundation’s project had nothing to do with the worship functions at Angelus Temple.

    As much as we might have disagreed with this interpretation, we (the EPHS and probably, the City) weren’t really interested in a protracted legal fight and were happy to play ball with the Foundation, whatever their motivations.

    Since the building moved to Echo Park Avenue, a private party bought a vacant lot in Angeleno Heights and had been working to move the building there permanently. Having moved one of the last threatened Craftsman 4plexes in the neighborhood (http://articles.latimes.com/2002/aug/23/local/me-move23), I was able to offer a road map and occasional advice, but it seems that, for whatever reason, things didn’t come together.

    Despite this disappointing outcome and the naysayers here, projects like this are financially viable and do a great deal for the character of neighborhoods like ours which are made up primarily of pre-1930 buildings. But, moving buildings around is a complicated endeavor and new construction is quite a bit easier.

    Could more have been done to market the building? Probably. While outreach was done within northeast LA’s preservation community and developers known for building relocations, we (and Foursquare) didn’t hang a banner saying “free building” with a phone number. That may have worked, but it would also have involved many, many fruitless phone calls fielded by volunteers.

    On that note, to those who would like to get involved, the EPHS can use your ideas and enthusiasm. Our neighborhood’s history is guaranteed to be threatened again in the future. http://historicechopark.org/id7.html

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