At a press conference today actress Diane Keaton, who fought a years long battle to save the Ambassador Hotel on Wilshire Boulevard, vowed that she would fight even harder to preserve the Minoru Yamasaki-designed hotel at 2025 Avenue of the Stars. “I don’t think that Los Angeles can stand a replay of the Ambassador Hotel," said Keaton, speaking at the 2000 Avenue of the Stars building, located directly across from the Century Plaza. "Three years ago, I spoke at the Ambassador Hotel’s wake. I said the next time this happens, the next time, I am going to try harder. Well, here we are with another historic hotel on the precipice of oblivion and I am trying harder. The question is, are you?” (Here's video of Keaton speaking at the wake.) Meanwhile, likely in response to the onslaught of press about the proposed demolition of the building, the developer New Century put a second press release this afternoon, disputing that the building is eligible for National Register.
Press release put out by New Century, the developers: Attorney William Delvac, representing the Century Plaza, is a nationally recognized expert on preservation law who disputes the assertion that the building is eligible for the National Register. "Under the federal regulations the presumption is against eligibility of buildings under 50 years old. The most stringent standards for eligibility apply to contemporary buildings. It is intentionally a very high hurdle. In my professional view the hotel does not pass the test." Delvac, a leading author with 25 years experience in preservation law and an award winning preservationist [including receiving the Los Angeles Conservancy's President's Award], said the analysis must be based on facts not passion. "I am a long-standing preservationist but not every building is significant and not every building should be saved. We need to build great buildings today."---end of press release
Michael Buhler, director of advocacy for the Los Angeles Conservancy, said that was false argument. "In truth, the federal criteria allows for buildings to be designated when there is exceptionally significant circumstances," he told us.
Meanwhile, back to the press conference: Joining Keaton was Richard Moe, president of the National Trust for Historic Preservation. Asked what was different about the battle over this development as oppose to the Ambassador project, both Moe and Keaton said that times had changed--there is now more information about the environmental effects of tearing down a building, and the amount of energy and resources needed to put up a new structure. "The sustainability [factor] changes everything," saod Keaton. Additionally, Moe said that while the developer claims he is greening Century City, "on the contrary, what he is proposes is the de-greening of Century City." Somewhat ironically, both parties are playing the green card.
SO WHAT HAPPENS NOW?
According to Buhler, any legal action would be a ways off and isn't even being considered at this point. The developer still has to submit plans to the city, and if anyone is going to challenge the EIR (environmental impact report), it would have to come after the entire city process is finished, ie, after the city council approves the project. That could be a year or two off. And one big important unknown: How politicians David Vahedi and Paul Koretz will react to today's push for preservation of the hotel. Both candidates are running for City Councilman Jack Weiss's 5th District seat.