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Pondering Preservation: How Will The Economic Downturn Affect Preservation?

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Welcome to Pondering Preservation, a series that asks preservationists, architects, historians, and homeowners to share their thoughts on preservation efforts in Los Angeles.

[After the teardown: Ambassador Hotel site by flickr user GrahamKo]

This week's question: Will a downturn mean fewer historic structures are at risk from developers' bulldozers? Will it mean less money to preserve and restore? And will you finally be able to buy that Neutra you've been eying with the spare change in your couch cushions? Chris Nichols, former chair of the Los Angeles Conservancy Modern Committee and an associate editor at Los Angeles magazine, emails a reply: "The recession of the early ‘90s was a nice breather from the daily onslaught of preservation challenges. It was a good time to learn how things worked. There were also cases of preservation by neglect, where things were in the holding pattern for years, and when the economy recovered, they were still there to talk about. A new owner could be found and a preservation solution achieved.

L.A. Preservation since 2000 has been like a big game of Tetris. Just when a solution is reached on one project, another falls from the sky and has to be fit in. The Conservancy has been [about] all things downtown and the late Robert Nudelman had Hollywood under control. Since the last recession, we’ve opened a city office of historic resources, Los Angeles has become a “certified local government” and the Conservancy has grown to be the largest preservation group in the country. LAC and ModCom are certainly looked upon nationwide as leaders in preservation, trying harder to turn back the bad reputation we gained in the ‘60s and ‘70s as tear-down central."