Mitch O'Farrell

Historic Designation May Save Echo Park Bungalows From Wrecking Ball

A set of 95-year-old bungalows in Echo Park threatened with demolition have been given historic-cultural monument status by the Los Angeles City Council to help save them from the wrecking ball.

A developer who bought the Wurfl Court bungalows at 1450-1456 Echo Park Ave. filed an application last year with the city to tear them down and build a dozen single-family homes in their place.

The move was met with strong opposition from City Councilman Mitch O'Farrell, who represents the area.

A resident in the neighborhood, Lena Kouyoumdjian, filed the application for landmark status for the bungalows, and O'Farrell threw his support behind the effort.

The council approved the designation on a 10-0 vote, and in doing so agreed with the recommendation of the Cultural Heritage Commission.

"Today the council voted to designate Wurfl Court as a city historic cultural monument. Bungalow courts are the city's signature multi-family housing, and I look forward to working with the community on further updates to city codes that strike a balance and preserve the rich architectural identity in the 13th District while encouraging reasonable growth and development," O'Farrell said.

The owner of the bungalows, Sam Mark, argued that they did not meet any of the criteria for preservation. He hired Margarita Jerabek, director of historic resources for an environmental planning and design firm called Environmental Science Associate, to produce a report on the property.

The report noted that Survey LA, the citywide historic survey that identified and documented significant historic resources, did not identify Wurfl Court as meeting eligibility standards as a potential historic-cultural monument.

The bungalows are not a notable work of a significant architect and have undergone significant renovations over the decades, according to Jerabek's report, which says they are essentially an "altered and undistinguished" set of bungalows that "did not lead or influence events or patterns of history; therefore the subject does not appear eligible for designation."

While a landmark designation ensures a more thorough review of a demolition proposal, it does not prohibit demolition outright, although an environmental impact report must be prepared that also assesses the feasibility of alternatives to demolition.

Mark could not be reached for comment as to his plans for Wurfl Court in light of the new landmark designation.

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