Customers may be fueling up again at the historic Gilmore Gasoline Filling Station at 859 N. Highland – but it’ll be a different kind of high octane this time. Starbucks is considering transforming the once-charming, now-dilapidated building into a drive-through coffeeshop.
Elizabeth Valerio of Valerio Architecture shared schematics with the Land Use Committee of the Greater Wilshire Neighborhood Council (GWNC) this past week, saying “Starbucks has not filed an application with the City yet, but is considering rehabilitating and maintaining the historic structure.” She was floating the concept before the GWNC committee to get opinions on whether this would be a good idea for the neighborhood and the building.
The wood and aluminum structure at 853 N. Highland Ave was built in 1935 as one of the earliest Gilmore Oil Company stations in Los Angeles. The Gilmore Family owned Rancho La Brea in the mid 1800s, struck oil locally in the early part of the 20th century and formed the Gilmore Oil Company, and then went on to found the Gilmore Bank and the Farmer’s Market at Third and Fairfax.
The station was named Historical Cultural Monument #508 in 1992 but has stood empty for almost 20 years, windows boarded up and slowly deteriorating. Valerio noted that rehabilitation of the building would be extensive and would basically mean pulling the structure, with its two winged canopies, apart and putting it back together again.
Should Starbucks decide to move forward, they would need to seek a Conditional Use Permit to change the use designation and would ask for extended hours of operation from 5am to 12 midnight, Valerio said. Starbucks would undertake a traffic study to discern traffic patterns and determine whether drive-through access from Willoughby would be least problematic.
Valerio said they envisioned no indoor seating but a nice-sized outdoor seating patio with a walk-up window, removing some of the hardscape and replacing it with greenscape, and perhaps adding vintage charm using old fuel pumps or an antique automobile.
Should Starbucks decide to go forward, they’d hope to be fueling up customers with caffeine by the summer of 2014.
What do you think – is this a good use for this historic space?
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