By Michael Goldstein
By Dennis Romero
By Sarah Fenske
By Matthew Mullins
By Patrick Range McDonald
By LA Weekly
By Dennis Romero
By Simone Wilson
”The Cultural Heritage Commission says there’s spray paint on it, there‘re broken windows, we need to tear down the building -- that’s crazy,“ Spence says. The coalition, formed eight weeks ago by Andrew Garsten and Netty Carr, boasts the support of 19 organizations, including residents‘ associations from Atwater Village, Silver Lake, Echo Park, Angelino Heights and Eagle Rock, as well as the Silver Lake Chamber of Commerce and the Eastside Regional Arts Council. They have collected 750 signatures on a petition opposing the HomeBase. The coalition wants a project more in keeping with the community, such as a movie theater or an arts complex in combination with a sit-down restaurant, or even sound stages for a movie studio. (The factory has been used as a location in videos thus far to depict blighted areas.)
Opponents say the community should have the power to keep out a project it doesn’t want, citing traffic issues and worries that the project would attract too many day laborers looking for jobs. The developers say they plan to widen the intersection to handle more traffic.
Miki Jackson is a member of the Community Planning Advisory Committee, which put together the Northeast Development Plan adopted on June 15 by the City Council. The plan calls for design standards and other general requirements for new projects, but does little to address the conflict now facing the community.
”The Northeast is kind of a redlined area that‘s designated as a dumping ground for the whole city,“ Jackson says. ”It isn’t like people in this community don‘t have money. They go to Old Town Pasadena for movies and to dine at restaurants.“
She says ways must be found to keep the money from leaving the community.
”We need a better restaurant -- not a Burger King,“ Jackson says. ”To listen to the developers, you’d think Burger King was the rebirth of Lawry‘s. This is an area that can support good businesses, and the first people who figure that out and put a few nice restaurants, theaters and bookstores in this area are going to do very well.“
Councilman Mike Hernandez, who represents the Glassell Park district, says developers have come and gone over the last six years. ”This is not a new project to me, and the abandonment of the land [by the current owner, William Zimmerman] is not excusable. With any project, there needs to be a balance between jobs, housing and open space. If there cannot be an agreement between all sides, then it is not a project I want to expedite.“
According to Hernandez, a movie-theater chain is currently exploring a 20-acre site farther south down San Fernando Road, near the Taylor railroad yards. ”I don’t appreciate having to travel to Glendale, Burbank or Pasadena to see a movie, and I don‘t think my neighbors do, either. There is a tremendous void here that needs to be filled, and as gaps get filled others become more attractive. The property value on that site continues to grow, and with more media and technical companies locating nearby, along with the greening of the river, I feel there will eventually be a reuse that will satisfy the community.“
The debate over saving the building sounds all too familiar to Dorothy Miller, who worked for Van de Kamp’s in the summer of 1942 as a fresh-faced 18-year-old. She still has her uniform of a starched white apron and cap. ”I bemoan the fact that we tear down these older buildings with such frequency, especially ones so associated with the history of Los Angeles. There are very few of these landmarks left.“
Find everything you're looking for in your city
Find the best happy hour deals in your city
Get today's exclusive deals at savings of anywhere from 50-90%
Check out the hottest list of places and things to do around your city