It Taix a Village: Saving A Legacy Business and Place
UPDATE: On Thursday, July 28, 2022, the City of Los Angeles's City Planning Commission voted unaimously to approve Conditional Use Permits (CUP) for the proposed Taix Square redevelopment. The vote moves the project is another step closer to demoltion of the historic Taix Restaurant building which numerous preservation exhbits have deemed significant. At the hearing the Consrevancy once again raised concerns about the use of the Sustainable Communities Environmental Assessment (SCEA), a streamlined California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) process which we believe this project does not meet. We continue to advocate for the a full environmental review that explores a range of development alternatives that are more preservation-based.
The Department of City Planning hosted a public hearing for the proposed replacement project on March 16, 2022 via Zoom.
The Conservancy and other supporters are pressing for a full Environmental Impact Report (EIR) to fully assess preservation alternatives to the planned demolition, including a partial preservation approach. An EIR is required when a historic resource is affected and the City has discretionary review, both of which exist in this case. Anything less than preparation of an EIR is a violation of the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA).
If you care about Taix and how this case will potentially affect other historic places in L.A., speak up and ask that the City prepare an Environmental Impact Report (EIR).
Comments made by the Conservancy on March 16, 2022:
In regards to the off-menu density bonus and conditional use approvals being sought by the applicant through the City Planning Commission, we are not opposed in concept; however, approval requires discretionary review by the City, and directly affects the overall project scope and an existing historic resource, Taix Restaurant building.
While a sustainable communities project exemption (or SCPE) is being considered by the City Council separately, these two approval processes are directly linked and should be treated as a whole by the City.
Despite the City Council’s action regarding the Historic-Cultural Monument process for Taix [limiting the scope to salvage of two exterior signs and a bar top], this project will have a significant impact on an historic resource – i.e. demolishing the historic Taix building, a demonstrated identified historic resource by a preponderance of the evidence already submitted in the City record -- thus preventing reliance on a SCPE to avoid CEQA review.
Through these requests for approvals, we caution the City not to pre-commit to a specific project or scope prior to commencing environmental review and preparation of an Environmental Impact Report (EIR), required by CA CEQA law given there is an adverse, significant impact to a historic resource, the demolition of the historic Taix Restaurant building.
Other historic resources like Taix are being retained through full or partial preservation approaches by integrating compatible, surrounding infill construction. The same is possible here, and an EIR will help demonstrate this by assessing preservation alternatives to the proposed project.
On January 26, 2022, the Los Angeles City Council voted in favor of the Planning and Land Use Management (PLUM) Committee’s recommendation to change the scope of the Historic-Cultural Monument (HCM) to just two exterior signs and a wood bar top. Following a Brown Act violation lawsuit, PLUM met on January 18 to rehear and rescind its previous vote made on May 4, 2021. Despite objections from the community, and based on amendments proposed by Councilmember Mitch O’Farrell, PLUM voted to uphold the change the scope of the HCM
The result is an HCM designation that is no more than architectural salvage, not including the Taix building itself. This proposal was previously suggested by the owners (Holland Partner Group) of the Taix property and rejected by the Cultural Heritage Commission.
The Council's final vote and Councilmember O'Farrell's motion not only dismisses Taix as a historic resource but greatly undermines the City's HCM program and sets a dangerous precedent.
HCM designation is tied to historic buildings and places, not building fragments and salvage. The Conservancy believes this action is problematic on numerous levels for larger preservation efforts throughout Los Angeles.
On Thursday, December 17, 2020, the Cultural Heritage Commission voted in full support for the pending Historic-Cultural Monument (HCM) nomination of Taix French Restaurant. The HCM nomination was submitted by the Friends of Taix. Next, it will go to the City's Planning and Land Use Management (PLUM) committee.
The Taix family has owned and operated Taix French restaurant since it opened in its original location in Downtown Los Angeles in 1927. This legacy business has been in its current location since 1962. Some of Taix’s employees have been with the restaurant for over forty years. Recently the Taix family sold the property to the Holland Partner Group (HPG).
In May 2020, the HPG unveiled new project plans that call for the demolition of the existing Taix building. As proposed, a six-story housing development with 170 apartments (86% market rate) and a 220-space parking garage will replace the current building and surface parking lot. Ground-floor retail is offered including a small space where the Taix restaurant operation might reopen.
The Conservancy had been in communication with the owner of the restaurant and representatives from HPG seeking to redevelop the site for some time. At the time there was serious consideration and schematics developed by the owner that retained a portion of Taix as part of the proposed new development. However, we have not been a part of the latest planning process and proposed project design.
In addition to standing up for historic places, the Conservancy strongly supports increased density and new housing when it makes sense, especially if much-needed affordable housing is provided. In this case, it is a "lose-lose" proposition as the proposed project provides minimal affordable housing, the design and density achieved is underwhelming, and it needlessly demolishes a longtime legacy business building and neighborhood landmark.
The proposal to bring the Taix business back and include it as part of the new development is appreciated and acknowledged, though it is not the same as preserving the existing historic place where people have created and formed longtime memories and associations. It will be a new Taix experience and loss of the current, historic place. Our current understanding also is there is no legal mechanism to ensure this is mandated to occur as part of the development approval process.
In response to the proposed project, the Friends of Taix has formed to press for a preservation-based alternative that maintains the Taix building.
Taix has been identified as eligible for local listing by SurveyLA under the theme of Commercial Identity, representing a long-standing commercial presence in Echo Park. The Conservancy commissioned an independent analysis which also concurred it eligible as a historic resource. The owner, Holland Partner Group (HPG), has also reached this same conclusion, determining it an eligible historic resource.
Taix is an important legacy business in L.A. The challenge is how to provide new housing without losing the authentic Taix that so many Angelenos know and love—a place they are tied to through personal experiences.
The Conservancy does not think it’s an either/or scenario, such as provide housing or preserve this legacy business building. Through creative design and compromise, both are possible to achieve a result that everyone can celebrate. The proposal to bring the Taix business back and include it as part of the new development is appreciated, though it is not the same as preserving the existing historic place. It will be a new Taix experience and loss of the current, historic place.
We believe there should be a way to design sensitive infill construction in a manner that incorporates the Taix building through meaningful preservation and continued use, whereby the old and new work together in a thoughtful, compatible design. Compromise is likely needed on both sides, through a partial preservation approach and a reduction in scale of the proposed new project.
The Conservancy strongly believes a significant impact will be the result of the proposed project and demolition of the Taix building by the Holland Partner Group. Therefore, an Environmental Impact Report (EIR) is necessary in this case to fully assess impacts and possible preservation alternatives that can be employed to address project objectives.
We are asking for the following:
- Pursue preservation alternatives that can achieve a "win-win" outcome, incorporating new housing construction with the existing Taix building, maintaining its eligibility as a historic resource. There are viable options available for achieving both housing and preservation goals. This may require a reduction in the number of market-rate housing units and a partial preservation approach.
- Conduct an Environmental Impact Report (EIR). The Conservancy strongly believes a significant impact will be the result of the proposed project and demolition of the Taix building by the Holland Partner Group. Therefore, an Environmental Impact Report (EIR) is necessary in this case to fully assess impacts and possible preservation alternatives that can be employed to address project objectives.
CEQA “requires public agencies to deny approval of a project with significant adverse effects when feasible alternatives or feasible mitigation measures can substantially lessen such effects.” Reasonable alternatives must be considered “even if they substantially impede the project or are more costly.” Likewise, findings of alternative feasibility or infeasibility must be supported by substantial evidence.
Here’s what you can do now:
Ask for a preservation-based project that incorporates the Taix building and maintains its eligibility as a historic resource.
FIRST, attend the July 28, City Planning Commission at 8:30 a.m. and demand the City reqire the developer conduct a full Environmental Impact Report (EIR).
MEETING ID: 885 3533 6250
MEETING PASSCODE: 648084
Contact Councilmember Mitch O'Farrell where this project is located. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org and call his office at (213) 473-7013. Also, contact Planning Director Craig Bullock in O'Farrell's office at email@example.com. Also, contact/share/tag on Facebook https://www.facebook.com/CouncilmemberMitchOFarrell and Instagram https://www.instagram.com/mitchofarrell/
SECOND, contact the owner, the Holland Partner Group (HPG). Email CEO and Chairman Clyde Holland at firstname.lastname@example.org and call their office at (562) 285-5300. Also, contact/share/tag on Facebook https://www.facebook.com/HollandPartnerGroup/ and Instagram https://www.instagram.com/holland_partner_group/
 San Bernardino Valley Audubon Soc’y v. County of San Bernardino (1984), 155 Cal.App.3d 738, 750; Guideline § 15126(d)(1).
 Public Resources Code § 21081.5.
 Sierra Club v. Gilroy City Council (1990) 222 Cal.App.3d 30, 41; also see Public Resources Code §§ 21002, 21002.1.