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After a fire, Arts District’s historic Pickle Works building faces demolition

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The 1880s structure is badly damaged

Pickle Works fire
The fire broke out Friday night and burned up much of the building.
Photos courtesy Esotouric

A destructive blaze has likely doomed the James K. Hill & Sons Pickle Works building, one of Downtown LA’s oldest remaining structures.

The building sustained significant damage in a fire earlier this month, and now, officials say it will be razed.

Rick Coca, spokesperson for Councilmember Jose Huizar, tells Curbed that inspectors from the Department of Building and Safety have “determined that the building’s current condition poses an immediate health and safety hazard.”

What remains of the structure will be demolished, according to Coca, though he says city staffers are working to “preserve undamaged portions of the historic facade for future use.”

Erected in 1888, the industrial structure was built as a pickle factory. Much later, as the Arts District became a bohemian haven in the 1980s, it became known as the Citizens Warehouse and Art Dock, a gallery and artists' collective.

The November 9 fire is a blow to the efforts of local preservationists to protect the structure from the wrecking ball. Now owned by the city, the building was partly disassembled to allow for expansion of the First Street Bridge.

In August, the City Council made preliminary plans to sell the property to Metro. The transit agency sought to demolish much of the structure in order to make way for a new facility that will allow Red and Purple Line trains to turn back more efficiently, speeding up service along the busy subway routes.

Pickle Works fire

The Los Angeles Conservancy had been in talks with Metro about preserving more of the structure, but the fire appears to have halted those efforts.

Adrian Scott Fine, director of advocacy for the Conservancy, tells Curbed that the fire represents “a devastating loss to the early industrial heritage of the city and a community of artists who helped establish the Arts District in the 1970s and ’80s.”