The new owners of the Historic Cultural Monument property at 215 South Wilton Place have until June 1 to provide Lambert Giessinger, architect at the Office of Historic Resources at the Department of City Planning, with plans to bring the damaged property into compliance with the Mills Act preservation ordinance and avoid cancellation of the house’s Mills Act Contract, according to a letter sent to the owners from the City Attorney’s office. Cancellation of the contract carries a fee of twelve and one-half percent (12 1⁄2 %) of the current, fair market value of the Property, plus attorney’s fees. City officials told the Buzz the estimated penalty in this case is approximately $225,000.
In April, the city sent a letter to the current owners, ordering them to cease construction on the home, all of which was done without permits and in violation of the Mills Act contract, which obligates the owners to secure city approval before making changes to the historic house. (The Mills Act enables homeowners who qualify to receive a property tax reduction and use the savings to help rehabilitate, restore and maintain their buildings.) According to a letter provided to the Buzz from the City, the owner’s lawyer replied that the owners were not aware of the Mills Act restrictions on property when they purchased the home in March, and if they had been aware, they would not have bought it. In addition, the attorney said his clients now understand their obligations under the Mills Act, and request that the fees be reduced.
In April, we reported that much of the home’s historic interior has been destroyed by the new owners, who were reportedly unaware that they could not make significant alterations without city approval.
The home, known as the Thomas C. Churchill residence, was built in 1907 and is located in the tight-knit neighborhood of Wilton Place, a historic district comprising 63 single family residences dating from 1907-1925. It was also designated a City of Los Angeles Historic Cultural Monument in October 1992.
Neighbors notified the city of the situation when they started seeing construction activity but found not permits for the work on the city’s website.
About Patricia Lombard
Patricia Lombard is the co-editor and publisher of the Larchmont Buzz. Patty lives with her family in Fremont Place. She has been active in neighborhood issues since moving here in 1989. Her pictorial history, "Larchmont" for Arcadia Press is available at Chevalier's Books.
- Web |
- More Posts
3 thoughts on “Update on 215 South Wilton Place”
This has been happening way too much. Many beautiful interiors of historic homes in Hancock Park have been unscrupulously modernized. No restoration efforts at all but modern cheap upgrades that do not match the houses at all.
The fees should not be reduced. The claim that they were “unaware” is bogus as I’m sure they could have made that determination through their own title company or by asking the simple question since they were destroying property in a historic neighborhood (signs in the neighborhood proudly announce its status).
The June 1 deadline has come and gone. Any update on next steps by the city?
It’s appropriate for the city to throw the book at the buyers, and I’m glad they seem prepared to do so. Their protestations of ignorance are not credible, when the historical designations were on the title report, the Mills Act status was in the listing for the property, and there is an historical landmark plaque next to the front door. After reading the letter from the buyers’ attorney, I would say they have hired the quality of representation they deserve and the city should have no problem steamrolling them throughout the legal process.