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Commissioners hold Lytton demolition permit, delaying Frank Gehry’s Sunset Strip development

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The developer is studying whether it’s possible to relocate the landmark

The city’s cultural heritage commission is buying some time for a threatened Sunset Strip landmark.

It voted unanimously Thursday to put an 180-day hold on a demolition permit for the 1960s Lytton Savings building, which a developer wants to tear down to erect a new shopping and residential complex designed by Frank Gehry.

The delay is intended to give the developer, Townscape Partners, more time to “thoroughly investigate” potentially relocating the landmark, now home to a Chase bank.

“The developer wants a clean site, I understand that,” said commissioner Richard Barron.

But Barron then asked Adrian Scott Fine of the Los Angeles Conservancy—which sued the city unsuccessfully to save the building in 2016—to work with the developer.

“Hold their hand,” Barron said. “Get a sense of what they’re trying to do and how well they’re trying to do it.”

The project’s environmental impact report had explored preserving the building on site at Sunset and Crescent Heights Boulevard, but did not look at options for relocating the building.

The Lytton building was awarded landmark status after Townscape Partners filed plans for its mixed-use project, named 8150 Sunset. At 334,000 square feet, the development will include 249 apartments, a market, restaurant, stores, public plaza—and new bank.

With its clerestory windows, floating staircase, and folded-plate roof, the Lytton building is considered an early example of midcentury bank architecture.

At Thursday’s meeting, Townscape representative Edgar Khalatian noted that the Los Angles City Council had already approved 8150 Sunset and its environmental impact report, which states that the benefits of building the mixed-use development outweighed losing the landmarked building.

Because the Lytton building is a city landmark, Townscape Partners has already satisfied four “mitigation measures”required by the city before the demolition permits can be issued, Khalatian said. One of those requirements is conducting a study to determine whether it’s possible to relocate the Lytton building.

But commissioners seemed skeptical that the developer could conduct a thorough and unbiased feasibility study.

Townscape Partners will not advocate for relocation “in good faith,” said commissioner Gail Kennard, because its plans call for the bank’s demolition.

Khalatian assured the commissioners that Townscape would extensively explore relocation, saying the developer has an “absolute commitment” to the fulfilling the mitigation measures. “We’re not just going to check boxes,” said Khalatian.

Project representatives will come back to the commission as soon as December to update commissioners on their progress with that study.