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Fairfax Theater Deemed Not Historic, Apartments Confirmed?*

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At the Cultural Heritage Commission, immediately following the vote. Theater image via You are Here
A developer's plan to turn the Fairfax Theater into 71 apartments (update: These are apartments, not condos, that'll be offered. But they're being built as condos, so presumably could be converted at some point) took a step forward today after the Cultural Heritage Commission voted not to recommend the building for historical designation, a decision that makes it easier for developer Alex Gorby to convert the building. The 1929 theater, the Commission decided, wasn't nomination-worthy due to numerous factors, including the fact that its original features hasn't been retained. "We're pleased," said spokesperson Ira Handelman, who represents Gorby. Some preservationists had argued the building, which is located at Fairfax Avenue and Beverly Boulevard, hadn't been properly maintained by Gorby. "[It's] demolition by neglect," noted Hillsman Wright, executive director of the Los Angeles Historic Foundation, one of those who showed up in support of the designation, arguing the building has important Art Deco elements.

Meanwhile, if there was anything surprising about today's hearing, it was the number of locals who showed up to speak in support of the condo project and against the idea of historical nomination. Among other things, speakers noted that Fairfax Avenue was "tired-looking," and that the theater offered no parking (the condo plan will have underground parking). "The idea that this could be a sustainable arts theater just isn’t viable," said Jeff Jacobberger, chair of the Mid-City West Community Council, who opposed historical designation.

After the vote, the group who pushed for designation huddled in the hallway, talking about what steps could next be taken to save the building. Among other things, Wright said his group would wait for the "draft EIR and go through it point by point."

City Councilman Paul Koretz hasn't stated whether he'll support the project (which is in his district), and the councilman is currently on jury duty, so couldn't be reached today.
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