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Taix French Restaurant

Taix restaurant declared a historic landmark — but we are not celebrating

Taix French RestaurantThe 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.”

The latest design concept for the Taix development, presented in September 2020. Courtesy Holland Partners

Taix French Restaurant

Plans to redevelop Taix fail to respect the historic character and scale of Echo Park

Taix French Restaurant

The Echo Park Historical Society has serious concerns about the proposal to redevelop the Taix restaurant site, based on the most recent renderings and project description presented to the Los Angeles Department of City Planning.

The development proposal unveiled last week is substantially different from what was shared previously in briefings with members of our board. Furthermore, the EPHS has not endorsed any of the concepts for the site.

The latest proposal is far short of respecting and referencing the historic character and scale of Echo Park. It is unacceptable.

The EPHS is opposed to the current concept for the Taix site. Our organization, which is dedicated to preserving and promoting the neighborhood’s historic and cultural heritage, would like to see substantial changes to the design of the project and its relationship with surrounding buildings and vistas.

Our organization is not opposed to development and recognizes the need for housing. We welcome innovative contemporary architectural design. But these goals can be achieved in a way that is sensitive to the neighborhood, allowing for the creation of new and beloved landmarks.

The EPHS and other neighborhood groups and organizations deserve a greater voice in shaping this project, which is planned on a critical stretch of Echo Park’s business district.

In addition, the EPHS supports efforts to nominate the Taix site as a Historic-Cultural Monument. Our organization looks forward to working with our neighbors, the developer, Councilman Mitch O’Farrell and other organizations in creating a project that respects the past of Echo Park while preparing for its future.

— Echo Park Historical Society Board of Directors