The good news is that the L.A. City Council has declared French Taix Restaurant a city historic landmark. The bad news is that the nomination was modified by Councilman Mitch O’Farrell so that only a few elements of the building would be protected by demolition.
As a result, the developer who purchased the property and now move ahead with plans to tear it down to build a large, six-story residential complex.
The battle over Taix was triggered three years ago when owner Mike Taix announced he had sold the restaurant property to Holland Partner Group, which unveiled plans to build a complex of six-story buildings on the site. The project would include a smaller version of Taix, which moved to Echo Park in the early 1960s after being founded Downtown in 1927.
After the Silver Lake Heritage Trust nominated Taix as a city historic landmark, Mike Taix and Holland Partner argued that only the business — not the building nor its architecture — was important from a historic and cultural standpoint. That would make it easier to bulldoze the structure despite its landmark status.
Councilman O’Farrell sided with Taix and the developer on this issue. As a result, the only artifacts that would be preserved from the old Taix building are the red-and-white Taix billboard sign on the rooftop; a vertical red-and-white “Cocktails” sign along Sunset Boulevard, and the restaurant’s original cherry wood bar top.
Approval of the modified historic nomination was a crucial win for developer Holland Partner, which paid more than $12 million for the property and has spent $170,000 on lobbying city officials on the project. With the City Council’s vote, can continue to pursue plans to replace the restaurant building with 170 units of housing and 13,000 square feet of retail commercial space – including a prominent place for a smaller version of Taix.
“It’s been our goal from the beginning to develop this site in a manner that respects the neighborhood and the history of the site,“ said Holland Partner executive Tom Warren.
But Holland Partner still needs additional city approvals and will face more public hearings, culminating with the Planning Commission, Warren said. Holland has modified its preliminary design after meeting with some unfriendly reactions from community stakeholders, but has kept the size roughly the same. A timeline is hard to determine, Warren said, though the plan could come before the commission in late summer.
The Echo Park Historical Society and other preservation groups will remain active as the development process moves along.
“We still think there is an opportunity to consider alternatives,” said Adrian Scott Fine with the L.A. Conservancy, “like more discussions to allow meaningful preservation for the restaurant as well as proposed housing.”