Thursday, February 11, 2010

Good News: The 1960s-Era Century Plaza Hotel Is Saved

Good news from the Los Angeles Conservancy: The 1966 Century Plaza Hotel -- which was threatened for demolition -- will be preserved.

Century Plaza owners Next Century Associates announced the news Thursday morning, along with the conservancy. Here's the press release:

The owners of the Century Plaza Hotel, Next Century Associates, along with the Los Angeles Conservancy and the National Trust for Historic Preservation, today announced plans for a revised development project that would preserve the famed hotel.

Next Century Associates originally proposed a project that called for the demolition of the historic hotel and redevelopment of the property with a mixed use project comprising hotel, residential, office, retail, public plazas, and open space. In 2009, the National Trust listed the hotel as one of America’s 11 Most Endangered Historic Places.

At the urging of Los Angeles City Councilmember Paul Koretz, the Los Angeles Conservancy, the National Trust, and Next Century Associates worked collaboratively to come up with a proposal that would preserve the hotel while allowing for new development on the property.

"Next Century's willingness to embrace a plan that preserves the hotel is a great step forward," said Councilmember Koretz. "The process serves as a model of how a developer can work together with the preservation community to bring forward a solution that preserves an important structure, allows future development on the property, and better serves the goals of the community."

The revised development project will preserve the existing hotel building while providing a mix of residential, office, and retail uses on the property. The project will undergo the normal City review and approval process including a full environmental impact report (EIR) which will be submitted later this year. It will also be reviewed by the Cultural Heritage Commission for eligibility as a City Historic-Cultural Monument. Councilmember Koretz added, "I look forward to reviewing the revised project and assuring a complete and open community process. Any new development will have to be consistent with the Century City North Specific Plan."

The release also notes: "Completed in 1966, the Century Plaza Hotel was built as the centerpiece of Century City, a 'city within a city,' conceived 50 years ago as a progressive approach to urban planning. Century City rose on the former back lot of 20th Century-Fox Studios. The existing 726-room hotel with its sweeping curved facade has been a gathering place for celebrities, politicians and world dignitaries. The hotel was designed by architect and engineer Minoru Yamasaki, who was also the architect of Century City’s Theme Towers and New York's World Trade Center towers."

Nice win for the Conservancy, coming soon after the sad loss of the 1960s-era Columbia Savings building at the corner of Wilshire and La Brea. The Conservancy has spent the past year highlighting Los Angeles' 1960s-era architecture, including its It's a Mod, Mod, Mod, Mod City event last November.

Quite a coincidence that a big chunk of last night's episode of "Modern Family" was shot at the Century Plaza.

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