Can LA’s historic French restaurant Taix survive? This makes the historical designation complicated. – Daily news
LOS ANGELES – Los Angeles City Council on Wednesday unanimously designated the French restaurant Taix as a historic and cultural landmark and preserved three physical features, but council members failed to protect the restaurant’s structure, which would have complicated a planned development on the property.
While the designation is typically used to protect Los Angeles’ most historically significant structures, owner Mike Taix said the building and dining environment are both obsolete and the restaurant has become economically unsustainable. COVID-19 has worsened these conditions, he said.
“Our commercial revenues cannot continue to bear the overhead costs associated with our large, obsolete, extremely energy inefficient building. The infrastructure is terrible, ”Taix told the Cultural Heritage Commission at its December 17 meeting. Taix added that styles and preferences in catering have changed over the past few decades, making its current operation difficult, and it needs flexibility for developers to make a new space for the restaurant.
Taix said most of the interior improvements to the building had been made by him over the past 25 years, which could invalidate some of the historic value of the property. Taix opened in 1927 in downtown Los Angeles before moving to its current location at 1911 Sunset Blvd. in 1962.
City Councilor Mitch O’Farrell, who called the Taix building “of no architectural or historical significance,” proposed that city council designate the site, and not the building, a monument.
His proposal, which was approved by the City Council, retained three physical characteristics:
The Taix red and white billboard on Reservoir Street
The vertical red and white “cocktails” sign on Sunset Boulevard
The original cherry wood bar.
O’Farrell stressed the need to save the business rather than the building.
“The goal is to save this heritage business and not necessarily the building,” he said. “Unfortunately, nostalgia will not save the business. In this case, my main goal is to give this business a chance to survive. It just won’t happen with the current structure, ”O’Farrell told board members ahead of the vote.
“This unique and unconventional approach gives Taix the best opportunity to reinvent itself, as it has successfully done for a century,” he added.
City Councilor Paul Koretz questioned whether the city could further protect the facade of the building, but noted that he agreed that the company was in a “difficult situation”.
“I’m not sure Taix can operate such a large facility under the current circumstances, and obviously we want the company to survive, but I’m just wondering if there is a way to further preserve history as well?” He asked O’Farrell.
O’Farrell, who represents the district of Taix, said: “The facade is not worth preserving, and it is crystal clear.”
The designation of the building on the HCM list, which was recommended by the Cultural Heritage Commission, would not have prohibited the demolition of the structure, but would have enabled the Cultural Heritage Commission to delay such actions and create opportunities for preservation solutions.
With an HCM List designation, city law allows the commission to formally oppose the issuance of a demolition permit, delaying the demolition for up to 180 days, plus another possible 180-day extension, if it is approved by the municipal council, to allow time to preserve the monument, according to the town planning department.
In 2019, Holland Partner Group announced that it had purchased the building, and documents submitted to the commission show future plans for the site, where the developer wants to erect a six-story mixed-use building that would retain parts of the Taix d ‘origin. integrated into the structure.
The venerable French restaurant plans to grow from its current 18,000 square foot space to 6,000 square feet, according to commission documents.
The original bar and ceilings would be kept, but the styling of the seating would be updated and the banquet hall, which Taix says is no longer in much use, would be scrapped.
Charles Fisher, one of the people who nominated Taix for the list, said the restaurant building exemplifies French Norman architecture, which is rare for commercial buildings. The style is generally applied to residences, he said, adding that most similarly styled commercial buildings in Los Angeles dating from the turn of the century have already been lost.
The presenters gave various examples of other French restaurants around the world that Taix’s architecture and interior design emulate, such as Le Pavillon, a New York restaurant famous for its French cuisine that operated from 1941 to 1972.
“Preserving the Taix restaurant’s heritage is not a question of bricks and mortar,” Holland wrote in a letter to the commission. “It is a question of economy of restoration and evolution of the tastes of the public to which we must answer. While we recognize the well-intentioned intentions of the Silver Lake Heritage Trust and the Los Angeles Conservancy, the preservation of Taix is not something that can be accomplished with the tools of architectural history or by designating it as a monument. history and culture of the city.
Andrews Garsten, president of the Echo Park Improvement Association, told the commission that preserving Taix may be more important than preserving the entire restaurant building.
“Whether the building is considered a monument or not, it will disappear,” Garsten said. “But Restaurant Taix is what we all treasure the most, and Mike has promised to recreate an environment that reflects the old space. And so, to commemorate and mitigate (the building)… these are your most realistic options – and perhaps quite the best options. “
Adrian Scott Fine, director of advocacy for the Los Angeles Conservancy, said failing to designate Taix as a monument would set a “bad precedent” for the HCM process.
“The Conservancy recommends that the entire site be designated and that the CHC refrain from limiting the scope and leaving this for future consideration by city council, where political considerations are discussed,” said Scott Fine.
The commissioners struggled with the prospect of having Taix designated as a historic site because of the conservator’s testimony, but the mandate of the commission is not to decide what a building will be used for, but only if it has historic properties or cultural.
Losing Taix would be a big blow to the community of Echo Park, speakers told the panel, as they mentioned that Taix is the centerpiece of an annual festival, and many people said they have memories of their visit. in restaurants when they were children.
“We’re still open three days a week for take-out and delivery only, losing money every week, but we’re still here, and I think that’s a testament to what we’ve done,” said the owner. “There are no guarantees in life. I can’t guarantee you anything, but what I can guarantee is that I will go out of my way to make it right, and I have proven it by being at the helm of the restaurant for over 30 years.