August 14, 2014, marked the reopening of Lincoln Place, a historic 38-acre, 1951 garden apartment complex off Lincoln Boulevard in Venice. After a decade-long saga, all of the existing buildings are rehabilitated, and rent-stabilized units that had been removed from the market returned to active use.
Congratulations to the Lincoln Place Tenants Association and our longtime Modern Committee (ModCom) volunteers who worked so hard to make this happen!
A special thanks to Amanda Seward for her leadership as the ModCom residential committee chair and her work on the California Register nomination. We also want to thank Aimco for committing to preserve and reinvest in this unique community.
Former Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa said of the project,
"...it will serve as a model locally and nationally for sustainable rehabilitation of older, low-rise rental housing while providing green jobs in Los Angeles."
Lincoln Place was designed by architect Heth Wharton (who also designed Chase Knolls Apartments) and African American designer Ralph Vaughn; the Lincoln Place Garden Apartments complex exhibits many similar features to Chase Knolls in Sherman Oaks, these include Modern design elements and the organization of the structures around landscaped courtyards. Lincoln Place is much larger than Chase Knolls and was constructed as an FHA housing project.
The threat to Lincoln Place first came to the attention of the Conservancy through our Modern Committee (ModCom) in 2001, when the previous owner initiated a renovation and redevelopment plan incompatible with the complex’s modernist design.
The plans transformed into a full-scale demolition and redevelopment plan to build hundreds of market-rate condominiums, and ownership changed hands to Denver-based Aimco (Apartment and Investment Management Company), the nation’s largest apartment-holding company.
The fight to save Lincoln Place evolved into an epic preservation battle with illegal demolitions, several lawsuits, and multiple hearings before the State Historical Resources Commission (always with the same positive determination of historic significance). The site was nearly vacated in the intervening years.
Beginning in 1999, the owner of Lincoln Place began using the Ellis Act to evict tenants while their project to demolish the apartments went through the City. Over two years 300 families move out of Lincoln Place.
With the garden apartments in peril, the Conservancy Amanda Seward prepared and submitted a National Register nomination in 2002. At this time multiple lawsuits had been filed by tenants evicted from the property and those who want to save Lincoln Place. The City of LA then issued permits for the demolition of five structures which prompted another lawsuit for violation of CEQA.
In May 2010, the Los Angeles City Council approved a settlement agreement with owners Aimco Venezia. The settlement agreement is the last of three agreements that ends this period and starts a new phase for Lincoln Place.
The Historic Preservation agreement details development restrictions and rehabilitation requirements to historic standards. The City Council’s approval also allowed Aimco Venezia to construct ninety-nine new units to replace demolished units.