Monday, July 20, 2015

Update On The Factory

Studio One-The Factory
West Hollywood, California
Hello Everyone:

Before I get going on an update on one of the National Trust for Historic Preservation's Endangered Historic Sites list, I just want to say how grateful and excited I am to share that we reached 40,000 page views.  Woo Hoo. Thank you so very much for your continued support of this blog.  It tells yours truly that there is an audience and real interest for architecture, historic preservation, urban planning and design.  Thank you again.

About a month ago, June 24 to be precise, yours truly presented the NTHP's annual list of Endangered Historic Sites.  Among those listed was The Factory in West Hollywood.  The National Trust cited The Factory for two reasons: first, it was a contributor to industry (film) in California. Second, in the seventies the building was the site of Studio One was one of the first gay discos.  It was a place where gay men could openly express their sexuality.  The Factory is currently threatened by demolition.  Katie Shepard reports in her article, "Proposal would raze West Hollywood's iconic Factory" in this past Sunday's Los Angeles Times, reports that many West Hollywood residents "see the Factory as a cultural landmark that helped shape the city's reputation as a gay mecca should be preserved."  Chris Morris, the Los Angeles field director for The Trust seconds this point, Recent history, sometimes, isn't given its due... It's hard to recognize as 'History' with a capital H.

Sarah Dash at Studio One
Faring Capital has proposed razing The Factory; replacing it with a large-scale hotel with a walkway that the developers hope will connect Doheny Drive, La Peer Drive, Robertson Boulevard, and San Vicente.  According to The Conservancy website, "Developer Faring Capital has proposed redeveloping a nearly two-acre site between Robertson Boulevard and La Peer Drive with a 252,700 square foot mixed-use project..." (  On January 23, 2015, the L.A. Conservancy submitted comments on the Notice Preparation Of A Draft Environmental Impact Report and Scoping Meeting. (Ibid)  In the introduction to their response The Conservancy wrote,

The Conservancy believes that the building qualifies as an historical resource for its associations with the motion picture industry and West Hollywood's pioneering gay community, and should be treated as such throughout the environmental review process.

As the proposed project would cause significant impact to a cultural resource, the Conservancy, urges the City to mandate consideration of a range of preservation alternatives to demolition in the Draft Environmental Impact Report...(Ibid)

Cissy's Camera Bag
Jason Illouian, the managing partner of Faring Capital, hopes the new development will lure shoppers and diners into the neighborhood. There are also plans for a hotel and meeting facilities for people visiting West Hollywood. Mr. Illouian's plans for for the have a number of preservation organizations, such as the West Hollywood Preservation Alliance (, concerned that a another local landmark would vanish.

Studio One entrance
The City of West Hollywood has yet to weigh in on the possible landmark status of The Factory.  Katie Shepard interviewed WeHo City Councilman John Duran, who has not decided whether or not support the Faring Capital proposal because it has not been presented to the City Council.  Ms. Shepard writes, "Duran said he remembered going to Studio One when he was a young man in the 1970s."  Mr. Duran said,

It was a fantastic world so beyond the dreariness of Los Angeles County...When I walked through the double doors to Studio One, it was a dream come true.

Studio One closed in the nineties as crowds migrated to newer clubs along Santa Monica Boulevard.

Circus Disco poster
Katie Shepard writes,

The Factory is the latest in a string of landmarks in Los Angeles and West Hollywood to face demolition because of development pressures.  The Palms, the city's last lesbian bar, was razed in 2013. Jewel's Catch One closed in March after years of serving a meeting place for black gay men.  Circus Disco, a gay club in Hollywood that catered to the Latino lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community, is also threatened.

West Hollywood is an attractive city with many amenities.  Thus, it is not surprising that a plethora of developers are competing for approval to put up new commercial and retail developments in the city, according to Councilman John D'Amico.  Mayor Pro Tempore Lauren Meister wrote in an email, My feeling is that development should enhance, not destroy, what we love about our city.

Mayor Pro Tempore Meister added,

West Hollywood needs to follow policies set by the General Plan and Climate Action Plan which shape city officials' decisions in considering new development, while also making an effort to encourage the preservation and reuse of existing buildings.

Jason Illouian and his company are aware of the concerns for the building and Faring Capital are searching for a way to honor the history of Studio One while holding to their vision of a walkable retail development.

This is a developing story.

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