In the 1970s, one of LA's absolute greatest treasures - the Wiltern Theatre - had fallen into such severe disrepair that it was very nearly lost.
The Wilshire Professional Building, of similar vintage and just two short blocks away at Wilshire and St. Andrews, may very well be in danger due to negligence. And, as per usual, the city doesn't give a flying fudge.
The building's owners, Jamison 3875 Wilshire Boulevard LLC (whose mailing address is a PO Box two and a half hours away in Carlsbad), have failed to properly secure the empty building. They are required by law to care for the landmarked building, but won't even close the windows. The Artery's drone video of the building proves that beyond a reasonable doubt.
I dare everyone reading this to watch the linked video in its entirety. Tagging becomes visible in seconds. Anyone can plainly see multiple windows left open, and due to the style of the windows (which angle out), sharp-eyed observers may very well notice the open windows from the street. The sidewalk in front of the ground-floor retail spaces is filthy. When the drone angles down, it's obvious where broken terrazzo was sloppily "repaired" by pouring cement over the worst of the damage The tagging goes all the way up to the roof, suggesting that vandals and other no-goodniks have been able to get into the building for some time.
The owners evicted all the commercial tenants years ago, and have repeatedly changed their plans for the property for the past decade. Despite the current plan to adapt the building, it has remained unsecured and in disrepair.
For well over a year, Nicole Arbusto has been trying to save the Wilshire Professional Building from further damage.
It began with a simple 311 complaint. When there was no response, Nicole reached out to Lambert Giessinger at the Office of Historic Resources (as he signed off on some of the building's landmarking paperwork). Multiple times. He never responded.
Nicole also reached out to CD10 (who claimed to have also filed a 311 request and spoken with the owner), contacted LADBS (who dismissed the sidewalk damage as a Street Services issue), and contacted Deputy City Attorney Daniel Lee.
The condition of the sidewalk continued to worsen. Nicole asked CD10's Evette Kim to meet her at the building to survey the damage, but she never responded. The owner claimed to be aware of the damaged sidewalk but supposedly blamed it on Metro.
Nicole filed an unsecured building request with LADBS in January. It is now November and the building is STILL not properly secured.
By February of this year, the inside of the building had also been tagged. Nicole kept trying to get the city off its apathetic ass, to no avail.
Per one of Nicole's emails from March, "I spoke with Inspector Lum who spoke with someone at Jamison. Jamison said people have been in the basement, stealing copper etc."
The owners KNEW that thieves were getting into their building and they STILL didn't do anything to secure it. Why?
Nicole emailed Inspector Edmund Lum and Deputy City Attorney Daniel Lee again, noting that the same windows were still open and the tagging was only getting worse.
The owners were given until April 20 to deal with the open windows and the graffiti. Well, that didn't happen. They were supposedly looking for a contractor to restore the sidewalk. The graffiti got worse, the sidewalk remained unrestored, and the windows stayed open even when Tropical Storm Hilary brutally drenched LA.
Nicole also managed to dig up quite an interesting list of LADBS violations dating back to 1989 that are curiously absent from the online portal. Here's what IS in the online portal.
Four of Nicole's five LADBS complaints were closed with no action taken. The fifth was marked "under investigation", left that way for some time, and has since been closed, also with no apparent action taken.
Months went by. Nicole continued to reach out to Lee, Kim, and Giessinger, to no avail, and contacted Inspector Glen Rand twice in June.
It is now November. The sidewalk has not been restored. The graffiti was only JUST removed. The windows are STILL OPEN. And the owner has, to the best of my knowledge, not faced one single consequence.
The adjoining parking lot is now being redeveloped, and the owner's current plan is to adapt the Wilshire Professional Building into apartments.
I am a huge fan of adaptive reuse, and I believe thirteen floors of former medical/dental offices near the Wilshire/Western Metro station has the potential to be an excellent candidate for apartment conversion. However, that doesn't excuse the pattern of neglect, the still-unrepaired damage, the city's ongoing failure to act, and the owner apparently never being held accountable. (Don't get me started on the building being kept empty for YEARS.)
There is now a slideshow slated to be shown at tomorrow's CHC meeting, but according to Nicole, the pictures are long out of date and do NOT accurately reflect the current condition of the building (such as the vandalism in the lobby).
Enough is enough.
I challenge each and every single member of the Cultural Heritage Committee to view the drone video linked above, review the long list of LADBS complaints, assess the current condition of the Wilshire Professional Building in person, have a serious investigation into what went wrong, and take steps to ensure that this never happens to another landmark again.
I also challenge everyone at LADBS and the OHR to explain just what in the hell they were thinking by ignoring the declining condition of an unsecured historic building (that, again, had multiple windows open during a massive storm that soaked the city).
I'm not shocked, but I am disgusted.