Columbia Savings Building Set for Demolition

Wilshire Blvd. is ready for a facelift but not all are happy with it

Demolition began on the 1965 Columbia Savings Building on the Miracle Mile, as the entire block is set for a facelift complete with retail space, restaurants and 482 apartment units.

The City Council recently overturned a recommendation by the Cultural Heritage Commission to label the building, which was recently used as a church, a state landmark.

"We were surprised that the draft environmental impact report refused to recognize the building's significance in any way," said Mike Buhler, the Los Angeles Conservancy's director of advocacy, to the Los Angeles Times.

In a recent article about the building, The Times explained the battle between the preservationist and the developers.

Preservationists have joined with some residents in an effort to save the structure, which they consider architecturally significant, a gem of Modernist design that the public has only recently begun to appreciate.

Some residents are backing the request, saying the boom in mid-rise apartment complex construction along Wilshire has gone too far.

But the developers say that the building's significance has been overstated and that the neighborhood would be better served with the 482-unit apartment and retail complex they have proposed for the site.

Even as preliminary demolition began, the Los Angeles Conservancy still argues that the building is "an important example of postwar bank design as well as the innovative integration of art and architecture."

Some residents are worried the apartment complex and added business could add more traffic and noise pollution to the area. Susan Baker, a resident of the area, wrote a letter to the city-planning department asking the following question:

"This entire area is becoming overbuilt with brand-new apartments. Who $ay$ we have to have $till more?"

At the last minute the city requested the developers to set aside 15 of the 482 apartments as work-force housing, according to Curbed LA.

Copyright AP - Associated Press
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