Plummer Park, Great Hall/Long Hall
On October 7, 2019, West Hollywood City Council voted unanimously to restart design discussions for Plummer Park. The vote comes eight years after West Hollywood put their original plans on hold due to community opposition. The city plans to create a 15-20 person Plummer Park committee to review designs and conduct extensive community outreach. Joanna Hankamer, the principal planner overseeing the park redesign, has said that "all ideas are on the table." The renewed interest in redesigning Plummer Park comes as the city faces a 2021 deadline to spend $9.25 million on the park, or else they will lose state funding. As reported by WeHoville, possible renovations to the Great Hall would come in a later phase.
On September 29, 2014, the West Hollywood Historic Preservation Commission held a special meeting to discuss a proposal by City Council to relocate the historic 1938 Great Hall/Long Hall in Plummer Park. Historic Resources Group presented a series of options and analysis on how each option would adhere to the Secretary of the Interior's Standards and retain historic eligibility and listing of Great Hall/Long Hall; only two options would potentially meet this objective. Commissioners questioned why there was not an option to consider adaptive reuse and preservation on its current site. This action follows a January 21, 2014 meeting of the West Hollywood City Council, where members voted to table the discussion and decision on the proposed demolition of the complex and instead study the potential for relocating the building before making a decision.
In 2014, the city proposed the Plummer Park Master Plan project. Had the City Council approved the plan, the Plummer Park's historic WPA-era Great Hall/Long Hall would be demolished, with a contract awarded for $119,168 to a demolition contractor.
This action stemmed from a meeting in December 2013 where the City Council voted 3-2 to proceed with plans to demolish, despite widespread public outcry and the structure's National Register status. The unexpected vote was a rejection of a proposal by Councilmember John D'Amico to perform emergency repairs to the buildings and reopen them for public use until a final decision could be made.
Local advocacy groups Protect Plummer Park and the West Hollywood Preservation Alliance have been outspoken in their opposition and working together to press the city administration for preservation alternatives. The city's proposed $41 million redesign and renovation of Plummer Park called for the construction of a 179-space underground parking garage in the center of the park, the demolition of Great Hall/Long Hall for a patch of lawn, and the significant alteration of Fiesta Hall as a performance center that would destroy its original design. Specifically, the plan called for the following:
- Construction of an underground parking structure (providing an additional 69 spaces) and demolition of the historic WPA-era Great Hall/Long Hall as well as the destruction of 54 heritage trees, some of which are over 100 years old;
- Exterior façade and interior remodeling of Fiesta Hall; and
- Closure of a majority of the park for almost two years with heavy construction, noise, pollution, and increased traffic in an already congested area.
In January 2010, the city of West Hollywood released a draft environmental impact report (EIR) for the redesign and significant renovation of Plummer Park. Proposed upgrades, which included a 179-space subterranean parking structure, also called for the demolition of the Park’s WPA-era Great Hall/Long Hall and significant alterations to the 1949 Fiesta Hall.
The city’s ambitious $41 million plan to transform the park grew out of the Plummer Park Master Plan, adopted in 1994 and updated in 2004, which reevaluated the needs of the community and identified additional recreational opportunities for the park.
Local residents and advocates have vocally opposed the demolition of the park’s Great Hall/Long Hall and significant alteration of Fiesta Hall and formed the group Protect Plummer Park. In 2011, in response to the group’s efforts, the city commissioned an alternative set of plans for renovating Plummer Park that would retain the historic structures, though the original proposal was still on the table for consideration. In 2012, the loss of anticipated funding following the dissolution of state redevelopment agencies put a hold on the proposed project.
The West Hollywood Preservation Alliance, which has also been actively involved, nominated Great Hall/Long Hall for listing in the National Register of Historic Places. Despite the West Hollywood City Council’s 4-1 vote in April 2013 opposing the designation, Great Hall/Long Hall was successfully listed in the National Register of Historic Places in 2013.
Any proposed demolition of the historic WPA-era Great Hall/Long Hall is unnecessary and will result in a significant loss to the heritage of the city of West Hollywood.
The Conservancy and local advocates believe strongly that viable preservation alternatives are available, yet being ignored and dismissed. An additional 14,000 square feet of green space should not come at the expense of the historic Great Hall/Long Hall.
The Conservancy strongly believes there is a long term win-win solution here as the Great Hall/Long Hall can and should be preserved and rehabilitated, rather than destroyed.