It Taix a Village: Saving A Legacy Business and Place
UPDATE: On June 2, 2021, the Los Angeles City Council voted unanimously to designate Taix as a Historic-Cultural Monument (HCM) with amendments proposed by Councilmember Mitch O’Farrell during the May 4 Planning and Land Use Management (PLUM) committee hearing.
The result is an HCM designation that is no more than salvage preservation and saves only two exterior signs and a wood bar top, not 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 Historic-Cultural Monument (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.
The Conservancy, the Silver Lake Heritage Trust, and the Friends of Taix had requested a continuance from PLUM to consider O'Farrell's motion and to continue discussions with the Holland Partner Group to discuss preservation alternatives.
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 included 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 May 4, 2021, action by the City Council's Planning and Land Use Management (PLUM) committee and June 2, vote by the full City Council not only dismisses Taix as a historic resource but greatly undermines the City's Historic-Cultural Monument (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 recent action is problematic on numerous levels for larger preservation efforts throughout Los Angeles.
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:
- Oppose and reject the full City Council's June 2, 2021 decision to adopt the Planning and Land Use Management (PLUM) committee recommendation and modified Historic-Cultural Monument (HCM) that limits the scope to two signs and a bar top, not the Taix historic building.
- 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 and Historic-Cultural Monument that incorporates the Taix building and maintains its eligibility as a historic resource.
FIRST, contact Councilmember Mitch O'Farrell where this project is located, and your city council member. 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/
THIRD, please copy Adrian Scott Fine at the Conservancy, email@example.com, so that we can track progress.
 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.