Saban Theater Custodian Says Historic Building Could be Damaged During Subway Construction - NBC Southern California

Saban Theater Custodian Says Historic Building Could be Damaged During Subway Construction

Concern stems from previous subway construction in Hollywood two decages ago when some buildings suffered damage attributed to vibration and ground settling beneath foundations.

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    Subway Plans Worry Theater Owners

    Metro's new Purple Line station is supposed to connect downtown to LA's West Side. But its construction is causing concern, especially for the owners of the historic Saban Theater, which is on the National Register of Historic Places. Patrick Healy reports for the NBC4 News at 5 p.m. on Thursday, Nov. 20, 2014. (Published Thursday, Nov. 20, 2014)

    The ownership of the Saban Theater has claimed plans for the extension of the "subway to the sea" to Beverly Hills do not offer adequate protection for the famous landmark.

    The end station for the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority (Metro) phase one extension west of the Purple Line below Wilshire Boulevard will be built right next to the building.

    There are fears the classic art deco structure, which first opened by Fox in 1930 and now listed on California and US historic building registries, could suffer similar damage that affected buildings during past similar projects.

    "We welcome the subway.  We think it will be a great development.  We just don't want to see our property destroyed in the process," said David Baron, Rabbi for the Temple of the Arts which acquired the property nine years ago and has been restoring it to original condition.

    Concern stems from previous subway construction in Hollywood two decades ago when some buildings suffered damage attributed to vibration and ground settling beneath foundations.

    "We already have an MTA (Metro) track record of causing tens of millions of dollars in damage to four other other historic theaters," said Tim Duresh, who is serving as an engineering consultant to the Saban Theater.  Duresh contends the entity in charge of the subway, the Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA), is not planning adequate precautions to safeguard the Saban during construction.

    MTA insists it will provide what is necessary.

    "We're going to have the right construction methods in place, and the processes in place to insure that their historic building is not detrimentally affected," said Metro spokesman Dave Sotero.  He said the city of Beverly Hills has already agreed to a Memorandum of Understanding on how the work should proceed.

    To the east of Beverly Hills, along the Miracle Mile, Metro's contractor has already begun utility relocation work in preparation for construction, and is expected to reach the area of the Saban Theater early next year.  Opening of the 3.9 mile extension from Western Avenue is not expected before 2023. Later phases will take the line to Century City, Westwood, and the Veterans Administration's West Los Angeles healthcare campus.

    The first phase alone is budgeted at more than two billion dollars.

    Saban's consultant has spoken to the California Office of Historic Preservation about his concerns, and requested it to step in.