Superior Grocers/Shoppers Market | Los Angeles Conservancy
Photo by Cindy Olnick / L.A. Conservancy

Superior Grocers/Shoppers Market

On November 5, 2013 the City Council’s Planning and Land Use Management Committee (PLUM) voted unanimously to disapprove the recommendation of the Cultural Heritage Commission (CHC) for Superior Grocers/Shoppers Market as a Historic-Cultural Monument (HCM). With full City Council action supporting this recommendation, the proposed HCM nomination failed. 

This outcome allows the current operator of Superior Grocers to move forward on a proposed renovation that will completely remodel the front facade of the building and destroy intact Googie features. 

Highland Park Heritage Trust prepared a Historic-Cultural Monument (HCM) nomination for the building to intervene. The HCM was recommended for designation by the Cultural Heritage Commission in August 2013.

The operator opposed the nomination, and Councilmember Gil Cedillo representing Highland Park ultimately supported this position. Without a councilmember’s support, it is very difficult for an HCM nomination to move forward. 

On November 8, 2013 Councilmember Gil Cedillo issued the following statement:

The Councilman is a big supporter of historic preservation and has received various awards on his efforts to preserve cultural monuments, but he has serious concerns about this process at a local level. A closer look found that the historic preservation process is flawed. As the City of Los Angeles moves forward in trying to revitalize some of its poorest areas we must find a way to balance our historic cultural icons, while encouraging smart growth and economic development. The denial of the historic designation will allow for the supermarket to remodel and improve the physical structure of the building in order to better serve the needs of the community. In the coming weeks Councilmember Cedillo will work with the Planning Department to ensure transparency in the process, and to make sure we are protecting our historical monuments while encouraging revitalization of our neighborhoods.

The Conservancy will work with the Councilmember's office to address these concerns and any changes to the process that may be proposed in the future.  

In April, 2014 the original Googie facade of Shoppers Market was destroyed as the planned remodelling project began. 

The Shoppers Market building is a good example of the mid-century grocery market that is becoming an increasingly rare building type.

Only a handful of such buildings remain in the city that haven't been altered beyond recognition or demolished. The few intact examples currently house the Vicente Foods in Brentwood, a Ralphs Market in Studio City, a 99 Cents Only in North Hollywood, a Hannam Market World in Koreatown, and a vacant former Big Lots in Hollywood.

Though they were designed in many different styles by different chains and stores, these markets are instantly recognizable for their wide spans, visible lighting patterns, and extensive glazing that displays the inside out.

With so few remaining, we believe the Googie-style Shoppers Market is a worthy example with a high degree of integrity that should have been recognized and protected.

While the Conservancy appreciates the operator’s desire to renovate the building in a style compatible with the surrounding Highland Park Historic Preservation Overlay Zone (HPOZ), postwar buildings outside the period of significance for the HPOZ are becoming landmarks in their own right as time passes.

The HPOZ was designated in 1994, before many postwar resources were considered historic. Many resources, such as the Shopper’s Market, are generally in scale with the neighborhood fabric and have become part of Highland Park's long, layered history.

We believed the Historic-Cultural Monument (HCM) designation would not have interfered with the store’s operations, its continued use as a market, or plans for interior upgrades and improvements. Instead, we encouraged the operators to embrace this opportunity to showcase the building’s mid-century Googie architecture.