Beneficial Plaza and Liberty Park
On March 7, 2018, the Los Angeles City Council voted to declare Beneficial Plaza and Liberty Park a Historic-Cultural Monument (HCM). To learn more, read the HCM nomination and final staff report and recommendation. Thank you to Councilmember Herb Wesson's office for supporting the nomination!
The nomination was submitted by the advocacy coalition Save Liberty Park, which formed in response to a 36-story mixed use 3700 Wilshire project that threatens the integrity of this highly intact cultural landscape and the city’s initial failure to recognize the property as a historical resource.
Save Liberty Park has worked to establish the historical significance of Beneficial Plaza and Liberty Park while raising broader awareness of this irreplaceable cultural landscape. In addition to successfully nominating the property for listing as HCM #1157, the coalition also commissioned a Historic Resource Evaluation that identified the property as eligible for listing in the National Register of Historic Places.
The Conservancy supported the HCM nomination and participated in meetings with Save Liberty Park, the property owner, and Council District 10 on securing support for the designation of this cultural landscape.
The recognition of the property as a historic resource in 2018 will require the preparation of an Environmental Impact Report for the 3700 Wilshire project or any others proposed for the property.
The development threat to Beneficial Plaza and Liberty Park underscores the unique challenges that cultural landscapes can face when their significance, and the need to evaluate it, go unrecognized. Although Beneficial Plaza and Liberty Park was originally conceived as a unified and cohesive design, the open space of Liberty Park is being considered as little more than expendable space available for modification and development.
The December 2016 release of a mitigated negative declaration (MND) for a 36-story mixed-use development project that would destroy and replace Liberty Park triggered public outcry and prompted Koreatown residents to form the advocacy coalition Save Liberty Park.
Property owner Jamison Properties, Inc. submitted the proposed project, known as 3700 Wilshire, in July 2016 and the City Planning Department selected the MND, rather than an environmental impact report (EIR) as the form of environmental review.
The Conservancy submitted comments on the MND and testified at the December 7, 2016 hearing officer meeting to highlight the flawed analysis of the environmental review. The city, in selecting an MND instead of an EIR, misinterpreted the 2009 CRA Wilshire Center and Koreatown survey and incorrectly concluded that Beneficial Plaza and Liberty Park had been evaluated as not historically significant, when in fact it had never actually been evaluated for eligibility at the local, state, or national levels. The scope of the 2009 survey was buildings constructed before 1962, while Beneficial Plaza and Liberty Park was completed in 1967.