A former gas station in Silver Lake that had been nominated for historic preservation has been cleared to be moved to a location along the Los Angeles River and turned into a concession stand, following a vote Friday by the City Council.
The station at 1650 Silver Lake Blvd. was nominated for preservation by City Councilman Mitch O’Farrell, who recently pulled his support for the historic designation after the owner came forward with a plan to move the station with the help of the organization River LA, paving the way for the site to be developed into an apartment complex.
“Though not conventional, we think that we were able to achieve the historic preservation that was desired,” Craig Bullock, planning director for O’Farrell’s office, told the Planning and Land Use Management Committee earlier this month, adding that several potential sites along the river were under consideration.
The Cultural Heritage Commission had recommended that the station be preserved, finding that the structure, built in 1941, “embodies the distinguishing characteristics” of the Streamline Moderne architectural style, but the Planning and Land Use Management Committee disagreed after O’Farrell pulled his support for the historic designation in favor of moving the building. The City Council also voted down the historic designation for the site on a 10-0 vote.
The structure once was a Texaco station and is referred to in city documents as the Silver Lake Texaco Service Station but was actually converted into a repair shop in 1988.
SurveyLA identified the station as eligible for listing at the national, state, and local levels as an “excellent example of an automobile service station from the 1940s,” and “a rare, surviving example of automobile commercial development from this era.”
Despite the recommendation of the Cultural Heritage Commission, support for the designation was not unanimous. While some people lobbied the committee and the Cultural Heritage Commission to preserve the station, others argued that the city’s need for housing should be considered.
Daniel Friedman, a lawyer for property owner William Hefner, also argued that the building did not meet the standard for preservation.
“It’s not a Texaco, there’s not Texaco labeling, that stuff is really important to the integrity of the building,” he said. “It’s not a gas station. It’s not in it’s original condition and it’s really in bad disrepair. It doesn’t meet the criteria for a historical monument. With that said, it does have a certain Americana to it, which our client understands.”
He added that “with the housing crunch that we are in, this is not a good look” for the City Council to choose a gas station over housing, but that moving that station “is a beautiful example of what we can have in this city, we can have both housing and we can have historic preservation.”
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