Monday, April 27, 2015

Historic Weddington House in NoHo to be Relocated within 329 Apartment Units Mega Project

Image courtesy Wikipedia; Junkyardsparkle
Image courtesy Bing Maps
Just released from the Department of Planning is a hearing notice (see bottom of post) for the construction of 329 apartment units in the heart of North Hollywood. The project also takes place on the site of the historic Weddington House which was the family home of one of the original NoHo founders, Wilson Weddingon. The home is protected as an LA Landmark HCM# 883 that is discussed in more detail below. The apartment project will take place over two distinct properties comprising an "East" and "West" location with the following: 
  1. West Property: 11111 - 11125 Weddington Street and 11104 - 11120 Chandler Blvd
  2. East Property: 11009 - 11061 Weddington Street and 11022 - 11058 Chandler Blvd
The project consists of the following: 
  1. Demolition of 6 existing commercial buildings.
  2. Relocation of historic Weddington House.
  3. 329 Total apartments spread over 2 properties, East and West. 
  4. 591 parking spaces.
  5. Maximum height of 65 feet over 5.38 acres. 
  6. The East property will contain 223 units including 21 live/work units, and 4,316 sqft of ground floor commercial/artcraft uses including the Weddington House. 
  7. The West property will contain 106 units with 11 live/work units.  
Moving onto the historical piece, The Weddington Family was one of the premier founders of the North Hollywood area. In their 128 year history, the Weddington family provided the land or built the first area school (Lankershim), the first jail, the first and then current North Hollywood fire stations, the Southern Pacific train depot, the North Hollywood Post Office, the El Portal Theater, the Bank of Lankershim, the Weddington Brothers General Store (later Rathbun's), and the North Hollywood Library.
Image courtesy Museum San Fernando Valley
The Weddington House which was built in the 1880's originally came from Storm Lake, Iowa (although a commenter at Preserve LA disagrees) by Wilson who decided to move someplace warmer. Its first resting stop was somewhere near a barley field in Toluca. It later moved again to the corner of Weddington and Lankershim in 1904. Then in 1924, its final resting stop was two blocks east at 11025 Weddington Blvd near Vineland Ave. 

JSM Construction of Santa Monica originally purchased the Weddington House and nearby properties for apartment development back in 2006 which alerted Weddington descendant, Guy Weddington McCreary, of an impending demolition and quickly filed an application for landmark status due to being the oldest home in the southeast San Fernando Valley and having historical significance to the early Weddington family which was granted on August 15, 2007 that saved the property from the wrecking ball.

A year later in 2008 as a result of the HCM status, JSM  planned to move the Weddington House to Heritage Square Museum in Highland Park which again upset local preservationists who wanted the property to stay in the SFV as described in an LA Times and Daily News article.

JSM Construction later filed bankruptcy with Prudential Financial taking on the loans. JSM's CEO, Craig Jones, owned many companies under the "JSM" brand and developed many properties in Southern California but later hit financial ruin in 2009 placing this location in disarray ever since. An article at Patch did a good job investigating JSM, the current whereabouts of Craig Jones who seemed to disappear, and the current owners of the vacant land after foreclosure hit.

Today, the project is being proposed by Greystar GP II, LLC (formed in Texas) based in South Carolina with offices throughout the nation and a few worldwide. I am not sure if Greystar owns the properties now which show the owner as Pr Li Jsm Noho Artwalk Sub No 1, 2, 3, & 4 LLC linking back to a Newport Beach office that has acquired the properties since 2006 spending at least $28 million and definitely more as some sale prices are not listed on online property records.

Image courtesy Greystar
The only shining light in this story is that the Weddington House will be saved although I am eager to see the renderings of this project to ensure its integrity is not lost. Guy Weddington McCreary recently passed away on October 12, 2014 at the age of 77 and I am sure would have been relieved to know that the property was going to be re-purposed. Ironically, the Weddington family is trying to develop just the tennis court area of the Weddington Golf and Tennis center in Studio City into a 200 unit condominium project. But keep in mind that the Weddington's donated this land for the sports center. 

The various lots that makeup this project are described below. Historically, this area was a residential, later became industrial, and was demolished sometime in 2007 - 2008 with a return back to residential probably in 2016 as shown in the pictures below from fave site Historicalaerials.com

Mostly residential in 1952
By 1972, converted to industrial buildings and warehouses
Up until 2005, the properties still existed and remained industrial with  demolition taken place in 2007 - 2008. 
11021 Weddington Street
11027 Weddington Street
11033 Weddington Street
11057 Weddington Street
11114, 11108, 11052 Chandler Blvd
11114, 11108, 11052 Chandler Blvd
11046 Chandler Blvd
11046 Chandler Blvd
11030 Chandler Blvd
11022 Chandler Blvd
2014 image of  "West" property
2014 image of  "East" property
Image courtesy Bing Maps
East Property
  1. 11022 Chandler Blvd: 24,098 sqft vacant lot owned by "Pr Li Jsm Noho Artwalk Sub No 1 LLC" with an unknown purchase date an price which links back to a company called Alliance Residential in Newport Beach. 
  2. 11030 Chandler Blvd (17,600 sqft vacant lot) and 11046 (35,198 sqft vacant lot) recently purchased by "Pr Li Jsm Noho Artwalk Sub No 2 LLC" (links back to the same company described in #1) from Richard Edward Gulbranson Trust for $13.7 million on April 10, 2007 which I believe includes the property described in #3.
  3. 11052 Chandler Blvd: 3,814 sqft vacant lot, no-address (below 11052 Chandler Blvd, 5,000 sqft vacant lot) which was purchased by the Gulbranson family April 10, 2007 for $4,312,500 
  4. No address (left of 11114 Chandler Blvd):  8,810 sqft vacant lot owned by "Pr Li Jsm Noho Artwalk Sub No 3 LLC" which was purchased from John Zemansky on January 10, 2007 for an unknown amount. 
  5. 11061 Weddington St & 5308 Balkeslee Ave (above 11061 Weddington): 3,000 & 5,764sqft vacant lot, respectively owned by "Pr Li Jsm Noho Artwalk Sub No 2 LLC" which was purchased from The Kate Pantano and Maria Pedicini Family Trust on December 15, 2006 for an unknown price. 
  6. 11057 Weddington St: 8,755 sqft vacant lot owned by "Pr Li Jsm Noho Artwalk Sub No 2 LLC" which was purchased from Mary and James Garlock on January 23, 2002 for $346,503. 
  7. 11045 Weddington St: 17,510 sqft lot with 9,999 sqft building built in 1969 designated for light manufacturing and 11041 Weddington St (8,755 sqft lot with 4,780 sqft building built in 1972 designated for light manufacturing). Currently owned by "Pr Li Jsm Noho Artwalk Sub No 2 LLC" which was purchased from Crow Weddington Partners Ltd. on  December 15, 2006 for an unknown price.
  8. 11033 Weddington St: 8,755 sqft vacant lot currently owned by "Pr Li Jsm Noho Artwalk  LLC" which was purchased from Richard Anderson and Tse Man Chun Marina Trust for an unknown price on February 28, 2007. 
  9. 11027 Weddington St: 8,756 sqft vacant lot currently owned by "Pr Li Jsm Noho Artwalk  Sub 1 LLC" which was purchased from  The Ekins 1990 Family Trust for $2.6 million on April 6, 2007. 
  10. 11025 Weddington St: 8,757 sqft lot with 1,878 sqft single family home with 3 Beds/2 Baths built in 1904 which is known as the Weddington House. According to online property records going back to 1998, this property changed hands twice with the Shirley W Mangin Estate selling to Sean P. Kelly for $91,500 on April 1, 1998 and then to Pr Li Jsm Noho Artwalk Sub 1 LLC on December 18, 2006 for an unknown amount. 
  11. 11021 Weddington St: 17,516 sqft vacant lot currently owned by "Pr Li Jsm Noho Artwalk Sub 1 LLC" which was purchased from Ruthie and Yoram Levy Trust for an unknown amount on May 27, 2008. 
West Property

  1. 11125 Weddington St: 8,749 sqft lot with 5,000 sqft building built in 1969 designated for Animal Kennel, 11121 & 11117 (8,750 sqft lot with 5,000 sqft building built in 1969 designated for light manufacturing) currently owned by "Pr Li Jsm Noho Artwalk Sub No 4 LLC" which was purchased from George Thomas Enterprises on December 6, 2007 for $5,900,000. 
  2. 11111 Weddington St: 8,750 sqft lot with 5,000 sqft building built in 1968 currently owned by "Pr Li Jsm Noho Artwalk Sub No 4 LLC" which was purchased from Wright Porperties LLC on December 13, 2007 for $2 million.
  3. 11108 Chandler Blvd (8,562 sqft vacant lot), 11114 (8,562 sqft vacant lot) owned by "Pr Li Jsm Noho Artwalk LLC" which was purchased by the Gulbranson family April 10, 2007 for $4,312,500 
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Thursday, April 23, 2015

Pierce College Farm in Woodland Hills Postcard



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Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Former Mid Century Modern Church in Canoga Park Plans Changed to 77 Single Family Homes


Ugh!! The former Reginald F. Inwood designed Mid Century Modern church which is already demolished and originally planned for 132 condo units has been changed to 77 small lot single family dwellings. The property is located at 20600 Roscoe Blvd Canoga Park which was previously home to the Filipino International Christian Church  The hearing shown below is scheduled for April 21, 2015 but it doesnt matter because the damage has been done. 

The property was described as a significant historical property by the fine folks at Survey LA but it didnt matter. The only thing remaining is a 500 year old oak tree which I have no idea for its fate but I imagine the developers would at least save that. 

You can read more about the church including pictures of its former self here as well as the after (demolition) pics here

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Granada Hills H.S. Wins 2015 Academic Decathlon for the 4th Time in the Last 5 Years


Granada Hills High School has done it again winning the National Academic Decathlon for the 4th time in the last 5 years on April 18, 2015 which is simply ridiculous. Granada earned 53,592 points out of 66,000 beating 46 other high schools from across the nation. I didnt see any mention of El Camino of Woodland Hills which won last year's competition so I am assuming they didnt make it this year. 

This is another testament to the health of the SFV school system, well at least in the good areas. Congrats to the students and teachers for sacrificing Facebook and Instagram to focus and study up to 30 hours per week. You can read more about the 2015 victory here. You can also read about El Camino's 2014 victory and Granada's 2011, 2012, and 2013 victories. 
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Friday, April 17, 2015

90 Single Family Homes Coming to Former Rocketdyne Fitness Center in Canoga Park/West Hills

Top and bottom left image courtesy calhomebuilders.com. Bottom right courtesy Bing Maps.
Today's latest news is the proposed planning of 90 single family homes with a hearing scheduled for April 21, 2015 (see bottom of post) consisting of:
  1. 11 single family one and two story dwellings with 2 car garages.
  2. 32 single family two story dwellings with 2 car garages.
  3. 47 two story dwellings with 2 car garages.
  4. 18 guest parking spaces.
  5. Various single family dwellings may include 3 car garages.
  6. 30,000 cubic yards of soil will be hauled away. 
  7. Overall, the homes will vary from 1,485 sqft and 3,500 sqft with 4 - 5 bedrooms and 3 - 4 baths.
The location is 8500 Fallbrook Ave Canoga Park 91304 which was formerly the longtime home of the Boeing Fitness Center which became the Pratt & Whitney Fitness center after they acquired the Rocketdyne division. The new project is called The Oaks at West Hills by California Home Builders which now has a website up to inquire about the development.

Image courtesy Calhomebuilders.com
The property measures 13.7 acres with 13,194 sqft of building space built in 1963. The property was recently sold on May 23, 2013 for $9,500,000 from Boeing North American Fitness Inc to The Village at the Valley Condos Inc which is owned by California Home Builders based at 21510 Roscoe Blvd Canoga Park CA. 



Image courtesy Bing Maps
On a separate note, the Cal Home Builders office at 21510 Roscoe (not the fitness center) has historical significance as the former ranch home of Albert Lawrence ("A.L.") Schoenborn (see image below) during the 1920's who purchased and subdivided a number of Chatsworth area tract homes. Schoenborn was known as the founder of "North Owensmouth" but is better known today as a street name that runs across the SFV (Paradise Leased).  I also remember this location as being a former Jeep car dealership when Roscoe Blvd was thriving with dealerships. 
Image courtesy Historicaerials.com showing 1947 Canoga Park
Image courtesy Historicaerials.com showing 1967 Canoga Park with ranch demolished and dearlership in place.
Going back to the Boeing Fitness Center, this location was used by Rocketdyne employees and family for various recreation activities and events which contains 4 tennis courts, 3 swimming pools, 2 sand volleyball courts, fitness center, an auditorium with capacity for 225 persons, and large areas of open land which is home to the Aerospace Retirees club, Local UAW union meetings, and fitness classes for seniors. The multiple acre park is a historic landmark for this community that was bought from the original estate landowner in 1959 (see image below). As of October 2, 2010, the site was closed when discussions about development started to creep but nothing was planned. One random note, this site was recently used for the filming location of TV show Last Man on Earth according to 90210 Locations

Image courtesy Historicaerials.com showing 1947 Canoga Park or original ranch landowner just south of the Chatsworth Reservoir.
I personally have not had the opportunity to visit the facility but I spent countless days passing by with curiosity  as a teenager on my bike and later in my car as an adult. My last visit was after a bus tour of the Rocketdyne Santa Susana Field Laboratory on June 29, 2013 when something on the tour caught my eye that prompted me to visit. During that tour, I noticed a Rocket ship monkey bar laying on the ground of an open area of the Santa Susana Field Lab. I quickly asked myself, "was that the Rocket ship from the Boeing fitness center?" (During the tour, I wasnt allowed to take pictures although I heard now you can). So after the tour, I quickly drove to the Boeing fitness center and noticed that the Rocket ship was missing which confirmed my initial thoughts. I later went home and checked Google street images which showed the Rocket ship (see below). This might not be a big deal to others but something I always admired and thought was cool. I hope they saved it but I doubt it. 

Image courtesy Google Maps

The Boeing Fitness Center represented the might of American manufacturing and aerospace prowess. One of the few companies (if not the only) to provide a 13.7 acre recreation facility in the SFV for hard working employees and their families to enjoy during a time when cold war era tensions were high and the only thing that mattered was landing on the moon and beating the Russians. Its a sad day to see a symbol of corporate generosity and employee appreciation go the way of bulldozers. But like everything else these days, change is inevitable, and the once mighty aerospace industry is a fraction of what it was during its hey days. 

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Monday, April 13, 2015

Former Reseda Petting Zoo on Tampa to become Chinese Language Academy Private School

Image courtesy Findagrave.com


Above images courtesy LATaco.com
The former Reseda Petting Zoo on Tampa is set to become a Chinese Language Academy private school with a hearing scheduled for May 18, 2015 described in the notice at the bottom of this post. The Reseda Petting Zoo was owned and operated by Linda Menary (more on Menary later in the post) which will have the following changes: 
  1. Existing single family residence will be demolished with several structures built.
  2. 12 classrooms totaling 7,392 sqft for a maximum enrollment of 180 students.
  3. 1,600 sqft multiple purpose room.
  4. 1,960 sqft for administrative offices.
  5. 2 Tennis courts, golf putting green, handball court, and 1/2 basketball court. 
  6. Parking for 20 vehicles
  7. Hours of operation will be M-F 8 - 5 and Sat and Sun 10 - 4.
  8. Existing 52 foot high cellphone towers will remain. 
The property was purchased by Wentar and Lynn Kuo on May 31, 2012 for $650,000 from the late Linda Menary Estate which had distribution issues with heirs that was resolved on December 6, 2011. The Menary estate also included a Chatsworth home on Shoup that was sold for $515K on February 22, 2008 that measured 3 Beds/3 Baths on 2,005 sqft  built in 1944.

Image courtesy Bing Maps
The Petting Zoo property is located at 19323 Lanark Street which measures 2 beds/1 Baths on 800 sqft on a total lot size of 65,008 sqft spread over three parcels. The listing description states:
It consists of 3 RA zoned lots with 3 APN numbers, totalling 1.48 acres which must be sold together. The city of LA has issued a conditional use permit for a CELL PHONE TOWER which occupies a portion of the the property. There is a Cell Phone Tower with 18 years remaining on it's lease, currently paying approx $2,450 per month rent with 3% annual increases. The lease terms and balance of the lease are binding on any buyer. Once the lease is over, the 3 lots will be untied and can be developed. Master plan says R1 is possible. There is a single family fixer house on lot 2105-020-007. The two additional lots are 2105-020-005 and 2105-020-006. Buyer's responsibility is to investigate present, future use and current value of the cell tower lease. ALL CASH BUYERS ONLY!!!
The Kuo's also own and operate the Woodland Hills Private School located on two campuses at 22555 Oxnard St and 22321 Collins St. The Kuo's purchased the Oxnard property on June 30, 2000 for $2.1 million and the Collins property on July 14, 2000 for $925K. The Kuo's are Chatsworth residents in the "tennis estates" neighborhood who also happen to be avid tennis players.

The Reseda Petting Zoo was a longtime favorite among locals to enjoy the variety of animals on the site consisting of ponies, goats, chickens, burros, llamas, ducks, turkeys, parrots, and a cockatoo. According to an LA Times article from February 20, 1986, Trail of Fun Leads to Reseda Arena by Debra Sorrentino Larson, this site had historical significance as part of a 200 acres alfalafa farm owned by the Zelzah family. In the 20's the land was sold to General Moses Hazeltine Sherman who would later on develop vast tracts of the SFV. The property was also once home to walnut groves during the 40's and 50's that was processed in a barn next door from 1915 that was blown up for the CSI: Miami TV show in 2003 (you can see images here). I believe Menary owned the barn property and sold sometime in the late 90's/early 2000's but I cannot confirm so dont quote me.

1947 image showing large walnut grove operation. The Menary Petting Zoo would be located slighly under the center left area. Image courtesy Historicaerials.com
The Reseda Petting Zoo was also popular with Hollywood as Film and TV production would use Menary's various pets for shows like Solid Gold, MASH, Mork and Minday, The A-Team, and Silver Spoons.  Even celebrities would rent the pets for house parties like Burt Reynolds, Chevy Chase, and Robert Wagner. And one could spot a celebrity riding bareback like Goldie Hawn, Ron Howard, and Henry Winkler. 

But the good times would stop in the 90's as Menary dealt with a deluge of complaints starting in 1993 as neighbors complained about odors, noise, and chickens causing havoc as described in a December 9, 1993 LA Times article by Hugo Martin, Council Rejects Petting Zoo's Appeal: The Owner of The Farm in Reseda Vows to Sue the City. Menary later sued the city in a January 28, 1995 LA Times article, Reseda: L.A. Proceed in Suit by Pony-Ride Farm. 

Then on March 3, 1994, an LA Times article by Jill Leovy, Farm Owner Accused of Animal Cruelty, was arrested for not trimming her ponies' hoofs at her Chatsworth property. Menary later sued the City of LA, two animal regulation officers, and an animal rights advocate who accused her of animal cruelty in a August 4, 1994 LA Times arcticle by Frank Manning titled Reseda: Petting Zoo Operator Sues Over March Raid.

Menary would also expand the rural lifestyle in 1996 by opening Menary Farms along with Joe Cicero who lost his petting zoo and farm stand at Pierce College (doesnt this sound familiar with the Pierce Farm Center shutting down operated by the McBroom family) and start another petting zoo and farm at the corner of Winnetka and Parthenia as described in a August 6, 1996 LA Times article by Eric Slater titled, Five Green Acres: A Pair of Agrarian Holdouts Try to Keep the Valley's Rural Roots Alive.

Not surprisingly, Menary was met with complaints again about odor and flies by the next door neighbor, Cornerstone Christian Church, as described in a November 25, 2000 LA Times article by Grace Jang titled, Farm Owner Digs in While Neighbors Hold Their Noses. This site would eventually close down I believe in 2006 as a result of Menary's death who passed away from a heart attack on May 1, 2006 at the age of 61 while visiting Bakersfield for a horse auction. The LA Times and Daily News both covered her passing. Menary was buried at Oakwood Memorial Park. Believe it or not, the former Menary Farms is now being developed into 68 two story residences as discussed on this blog.

This brings us back to the Reseda Petting Zoo which would continue operating after Menary's death into 2011 where it was moved to Menary's Chatsworth property (the same property where Menary was accused of animal cruelty in 1994) located at 21910 Chatsworth St which is still owned by the Menary family but not sure if they operate the Petting Zoo.

I wonder if the uprising in complaints during the 90's was related to an overall decline in the city of LA morale as this was the period when the LA Riots took place and crime was significantly higher. It seems that Menary might have been an easy target for others to take their frustrations out on Menary as people didnt understand the rural life and the surrounding areas were quickly becoming urbanized.
Linda Menary was one of a kind who was adamant about the keeping the rural lifestyle when everyone else was trying to go urban. She told the LA Times on November 25, 2000:
Years ago, the northwest Valley was horse country, said Menary, who has lived in the Valley since 1961. People expected their neighbors to have animals. Equestrians used to tie their horses to parking meters.
What it boils down to is this: I've hung in there. Most of the people with stables have left. They couldn't deal with the complaints, so they just closed down and moved--they may have been smarter than me, she said.
People figure they can just run you out of town. But I just won't go. I've been a thorn in their side. And I'm not going to go.
Still, Menary has thought about quitting. Sometimes I'm tempted . . . but once it's gone, it's gone,  she said. Right now, we should leave it a farm. It's something for the children. Children would miss out on a chance to experience a taste of the old rural life, she said. The Valley used to be country," said Menary.
This farm's the last of it. I'm the holdout.
Unfortunately the "holdout" has ended as this property will now be developed along with the Menary Farms on Winnetka and Parthenia and just recently discussed, the Sherman Way Farm. So the urbanites have declared victory.

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Above images courtesy Re/max Olsen
Chinese Academy School at the former Reseda Petting Zoo
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The Former Sherman Way Farm in Reseda to Become 3 Story 49 Unit Apartment


Top image courtesy Google Maps, Bottom right courtesy AJKHAIR. Bottom left courtesy Bing Maps.
Back on November 24, 2014, the informative Urbanize.LA blog revealed a new apartment project coming to Reseda at 18860 Sherman Way. The project is a 3 story 49 unit apartment with 1,344 sqft of commercial space at the ground level. There will also be 92 residential parking spaces and 3 for retail uses. Additionally, there will be 57 bicycle parking spaces along with 9,339 sqft for recreational and common use. This project will now have a hearing on May 4, 2015 as described in the hearing notice at the bottom of this post. 

The location is the old Sherman Way Farm that I believe has been around since the 1960's based on historicaerials.com shown below. Prior to the 1960 looked like someone's front yard as seen in the 1952 and 1959 photos. The property was previously owned by The Thomas W Rutledge Property Trust who sold on April 17, 2014 for $1.6 million to the Reseda 18860 LLC which links back to an office on Sunset Blvd in WeHo which happens to be the A.J.Khair development/construction company. The Reseda 18860 LLC mortgaged the property for $900K on November 20, 2014 which happens to coincide with the project release. 

1964 image as it looked prior to demolition recently
1959 Image with what appears to be the expansion of Sherman Way and adding Wilber along with subdividing the property compare to the 1952 image below.
1952 image showing what seems to be no Wilbur Ave and a small Sherman Way along with no Farm. 
I will be honest, I never shopped at Sherman Way Farm but a nice review on Yelp from 2007 makes me wish I did. 

Image courtesy Yelp.com
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Above images courtesy Google Maps
Image courtesy AJKHAIR
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