By Josh Premako, 4/05/2012
Modernization efforts began as demolition crews set to work this week at a historic West Hollywood studio backlot founded by silent film stars Douglas Fairbanks and Mary Pickford in the 1920s.
By Wednesday morning, workers had torn down much of the Pickford Building at the Formosa Avenue entrance to The Lot, a busy, 11-acre compound of sound stages and offices on the south side of Santa Monica Boulevard.
With a long history of film production, the studio is now used primarily for television filming.
Historic conservation groups have decried the demolition work, part of owner CIM Group’s plans to modernize the facility. The firm acquired the property in 2007, spokesperson Karen Diehl said.
The first phase of construction will remove the Pickford and Fairbanks buildings — both flank the studio’s entrance — to make way for a five-story, 92,827 square-foot building, according to a CIM statement. An artist’s rendering shows a glass and steel building that looks more at home in the 1960s of AMC’s “Mad Men” than the existing 1930s architecture.
Construction is expected to wrap up by early 2013, and CIM said filming production would not be hindered by the work. Subsequent development phases have not been designed or scheduled, according to the statement.
The Lot was placed on West Hollywood’s list of Historic and Cultural Resources in 1987. By Wednesday afternoon, city officials did not return calls inquiring what kind of protections are in place for sites on the historic property list, specifically when it comes to demolition work.
There are 82 properties on the list, many of them single-family homes or apartment buildings. A development plan for The Lot was initially approved in 1993, and supplemental plans were approved in 2007.
Because CIM went through the proper channels of gaining city approval for its plans, the demolition is an example of why community involvement is important, said Adrian Scott Fine, director of advocacy for the Los Angeles Conservancy.
If more people had been aware of the development issues and involved in speaking out before final approval, he said, perhaps a different outcome could have been secured.
“This studio portrays so much of what L.A. is about,” he said. “It has kind of fabled connections in terms of early entertainers.”
Tags | The Lot demolished CIM Group