West Hollywood’s historic "The Factory" was facing demolition for a proposed retail and hotel project called Robertson Lane that would have razed the structure to make way for a pedestrian walkway. But now developers of that project are introducing a plan that would save much of The Factory, restore the building, and incorporate it into the new Roberston Lane.
The Hodgetts + Fung-designed Roberston Lane project was planned as a 250-room hotel, shopping, and restaurant complex with a pedestrian paseo cutting through the project, connecting La Peer Drive to Robertson Boulevard. That pedestrian path was initially slated to cut right through The Factory.
Preservationists locally and nationally freaked out. The Factory structure was built in 1929 for the Mitchell Camera Corporation. Its cameras "revolutionized filmmaking" by helping to ease the transition from silent films to those with sound. But the building is most famous for being the home of legendary gay disco Studio One.
The disco opened in 1974 as a place where gay men could openly be gay. Because of this, it also became associated with the gay rights movement. Studio One hosted one of the first AIDS fundraisers.
Developer Faring Capital announced a new plan today that would "reposition" a large portion of The Factory so that it would be parallel to Robertson, and out of the way of the pedestrian path. (Faring Capital is partnering with the family of West Hollywood furniture store operator Jamie Adler to develop the site.) More than 60 percent of the building would be saved, says Faring Capital CEO Jason Illoulian.
After it's relocated, The Factory’s exterior would be restored, and "non-historic windows" would be replaced with "salvaged original windows." The rehabbed structure would be incorporated into the Roberston Lane project, though a particular use hasn’t been decided yet. Illoulian says some of the potential uses are retail, a restaurant, or a nightclub.
In a press release from the developers, LA Conservancy CEO and President Linda Dishman says the developers, "have made meaningful changes by removing full demolition from their proposed project and we look forward to the details."
There’s no construction timeline yet for the revamped Robertson Lane project.
Faring Capital has another project in West Hollywood's Design District in the works, and is also working on building retail space around the historic Norms diner on La Cienega (though they had, at one point, acquired a permit to demolish it).