Plummer Park, Great Hall/Long Hall
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.
Pending is a review and vote on a capital improvement project plan for the proposed Plummer Park Master Plan project. If the City Council approves the plan, the Plummer Park's historic WPA-era Great Hall/Long Hall will be demolished, with a contract awarded for $119,168 to a demolition contractor. At this time it is imperative for residents and those concerned to attend this meeting and press the City Council to reject or delay this action. Details on the plan for Great Hall/Long Hall can be found in the Council's January 21, 2014 meeting agenda: Item #4.A 25th Anniversary Capital Project: Plummer Park Master Plan Phase I Implementation Project.
This latest action stems 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 recent 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 about their fate. The upcoming City Council meeting and potential approval will finalize their decision on whether to demolish the building as part of the city’s proposed redesign and renovation of Plummer Park.
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 calls 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 will call 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 remodelling 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.
The 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 City of West Hollywood is choosing instead to demolish this historic building prematurely, as the envisioned Plummer Park Master Plan cannot be fully implemented given previously identified redevelopment funding is no longer available for the project.
The Conservancy strongly believes there is a win-win solution here as the Great Hall/Long Hall can and should be preserved and rehabilitated, rather than destroyed.
Public participation in such an effort is essential to success, and at no time needed more than now. You can help prevent the demolition of Great Hall/Long Hall, simply by taking one or more of the following steps:
Ask the City Council members to vote against the proposed Plummer Park Master Plan I Implementation Project as currently envisioned. Tell the West Hollywood City Council to preserve and reuse Great Hall/Long Hall, and that an additional 14,000 square feet of green space should not come at the expense of the historic building.
There is a win-win solution here as the Great Hall/Long Hall can and should be preserved and rehabilitated, rather than destroyed. Every effort should be taken to avoid the complete demolition, especially as this is a designated property recently listed in the National Register of Historic Places.
Email the mayor and city council members, and urge them to support preservation and reuse.
Sign the Change.org Petition asking the City of West Hollywood to stop the Plummer Park Master Plan