Thursday, October 27, 2016

What does a Craftsman-style supermarket look like?

Highland Park

HIGHLAND PARK —  The L.A. Conservancy reports that the Googie-style facade of the Superior Grocers store has been demolished a few months after Councilman Gil Cedillo sided with the property owner and blocked the historic landmark nomination that would have helped preserve the structure. Instead, the owners of the store are now going ahead with a faux-Craftsman makeover, which is depicted above in a rendering above.

City staff, the Cultural Heritage Commission as well as two neighborhood councils had supported declaring the Figueroa Street market a cultural  historic landmark, which would help protect the building’s exterior from changes that would impact its historic character. But Cedillo, who said he was “unencumbered by the past,” said he had to look beyond the concerns of preservationists.

There are not many stand-out examples of mid-century modern buildings in the Highland Park area.  Built in 1960, the nearly 34,000-square foot supermarket building was designed by architect Ronald Cleveland, who worked on more than 100 supermarkets, in what some refer to as the  Googie Style of architecture, which was popular among the builders of coffee shops and other commercial buildings of the era.

Highland Park

Superior store before demolition began


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  1. Thank god the preservationists lost this one. That building was ugly and outdated, it’s ridiculous to hold up that facade as an “important” example of the style. I’m just happy that store is getting an upgrade, it needs it.

    • Don’t know if you noticed, but all of Highland Park is “outdated”.

      And when it comes down to it, nuevo “Craftsman” buildings are very 1995 (like the Jack in the Box across the street).

      • THANK YOU. I do not believe in knocking off a historical style in the present day unless it’s a renovation or a repair. I’m even fine with a steel and glass addition onto a craftsman house. Can we stop pretending that this is Disneyland?

        My own personal Hell would be being forced to live in a Geoff Palmer development.

    • @Rob Moore – I am in complete agreement with you. As someone who shops at this store regularly, I am glad to see that it will be getting the (much needed) update.

      • A very ugly update. You guys have no sense of good architecture. What a shame that it’s been lost. Shame of Superior Grocers… I’ll be taking my business to Smart + Final instead!

    make it look like orange county!
    that’s really going to make me wanna go in there.
    that’s why i live here.

  3. There are several charming buildings in Highland Park, but that Superior Market ain’t one of them. Not that I love the Craftsman remodel, but the store is seriously old and dirty inside, I’m glad it’s being renovated. Plus that old facade is just plain cheap and ugly, it wasn’t worth preserving. It’s not worth saddling the property owner with preservation duties and making it that much more unlikely that the store would be upgraded. If you moved to Highland Park because you like ugly grocery stores with old dilapidated interiors and flies buzzing around the produce section, then you may be out of luck long term.

    • Old and dirty inside? Now you’re just lying, or have not been inside in a LONG time. The interior was completely renovated when they took over the store! You don’t know what you’re talking about.

  4. The store could have been upgraded without destroying the historic Googie components. And last time I checked, Superior management did not need a building permit to clean the “dirty” interior, or avoid having flies buzzing the produce. That is accomplished by having a commitment to providing products that are clean and safe.

  5. I’m glad to see that Superior is finally able to update this store’s decaying exterior. It’s too bad that there couldn’t have been some kind of compromise between what preservationists wanted vs. Superior’s vision. Even then, it’s highly unlikely that such a design would have been able to please every person who has an opinion on the matter. If they can follow up with some interior renovations, then I may be able to make this my regular stop for groceries instead of splitting up trips between different stores.

  6. Not many years ago, the Albertson’s company spent a lot of money rehabbing that market and really cleaning it up. As they ran out of customers in the early 2000’s and eventually moved out, the Superior went in with predictable results. Their business is not built around high touch and well kept stores. It’s all about price, combining services like the bakery and tortilla shop in-store, large liquor sales and super inexpensive, in-season produce.

    While there has been considerable wealth in the Mount Washington area for years, the truth of the matter is that most people choose to shop elsewhere and not support their local stores. That was evident in 2000 and again in 2014.

    The folks that want to ‘preserve’ buildings of historic importance might want to spend their time driving around the neighborhood protected by the largest HPOZ in the city and realize that those protections are widely flaunted. In fact, the most obvious ignoring of those rules is at the doorstep of our Councilman Mr. Cedillo’s field office on Figueroa. The facade of the building was altered by the owners without permits a year ago and nothing (apparently) was done to rectify that.

  7. As of this morning when I drove past, the replacement windows at the field office are still not the historically ‘correct’ ones required by the HPOZ rules.

    I understand that the CD1 office is a tenant and the property owner is responsible but you’d think this would be a very visible way for them to say that the council office wants to support the rules of the neighborhood and request that the owner follow the rules.


  8. It is the hard work of the local preservationists who tirelessly work to preserve the bits of history and grace we have left in the city, which have made the area so appealing and attractive in the first place. It is called Historic Highland Park for a reason. Allowing generic development to invade our little corner of charm can only slide us towards anonymity. Look at the parts of Los Angeles which look exactly like any other part of Los Angeles, and ask yourself why it might be worthwhile to work to hold onto a little of what we have here.

  9. Maintaining the Googie Architecture of Superior Market with a vision to update renovations; such as, “replace, repair, and paint” the supermarket would have been the help necessary to revitalize a dying cliental that prefers to shop elsewhere! I was a regular shopper back in the 60’s, became a sporadic shopper when the store changed hands multiple times and although, I attempted to try to continue to patronize the market over the years….I finally stopped shopping there a few years ago! Currently, many of the old, dated buildings in Highland Park add to the character of this community and preserving and rehabilitating these dated buildings are an investment in the beautification of our community!

  10. Very sad that a cool 1960’s building has been destroyed. It’s so typical of some grocery store chains to redesign the exterior without taking into consideration the rest of the stores in the parking lot. It’s going to look a bit clashed having two mid-century 1960’s businesses (Yum Yum and Taco Fiesta) with an Arts Craftsman anchor tenant. Additionally, I noticed that the glass has been removed. Does the store realize that that their shoppers had a view of beautiful Montecito Heights while shopping? Not to mention, it appears that the new roofline will be much higher blocking views from Mt. Washington as well as from Highland Park. I don’t think Superior even considered restoring the mid-century design. They were so set on changing the look completely. Very sad to lose a cultural monument like this. The 99 cents store at Figueroa and York is a good example of a design that someone felt would be an improvement. If you look at it today, it’s an eye sore to the community. It does not match the rest of the shopping center and is out of style. I’m afraid that the Superior is going to be the latest example. Why is it that these large corporations move into our neighborhood and feel that we deserve less simply because we are Northeast LA and not West LA.

  11. There’s a sad irony: those folks who are pushing for historic preservation don’t even shop there. I’ve talked to many folks who work at and frequent the establishment; they are perplexed that people who drive to Whole Foods for their free range pig are keeping the actual customers from enjoying an upgrade in the environment.

    • Agreed, WhenI lived In HP, I was probably the only white guy shopping there, I liked the design then, but this is America, and if the owners want to remodel, they ought to have the right to do so, I will still go there after the renovation

      • @Tedgrant – you are so right, This is America! Yet, isn’t America worth saving too? What will our identity look like if we demolition all the old for the new? As a longtime Highland Park resident, I feel we have a responsibility to try to preserve minimally some of the architecture buildings that define our area in a unique manner! I realize we can not preserve all of them….but, we must make an effort to preserve a few! The Googie style of this supermarket was unique to this area! Many of the old buildings that have been remodeled recently throughout Los Angeles, have done so without ruining the integrity of the architecture uniqueness of the buildings!

  12. I liked the exterior of the Superior market and there was no need to demolish the outside in the name of an “upgrade”. This upgrade is clearly an attempt to draw more people to the store. I don’t shop there even though it’s the closest market to me simply because they don’t carry the grocery items I prefer, not because I didn’t like the facade. If they don’t want me driving to whole foods market in Pasadena to purchase my pasture raised eggs and non gmo grass fed meat then start carrying those items. A faux colonial styrofoam facade is certainly not going to entice me in on a more regular basis.

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