Back in September, the Buzz reported that ownership of the recently landmarked Tom Bergin’s Bar & Restaurant Property at 840 S. Fairfax Ave., and the two apartment buildings to its north, had apparently been consolidated earlier in the year, and an application filed with the city that was apparently the first step in planning for a new Transit Oriented Communities development at the site(s). At the time, former owner Derek Schreck also hinted that there might be a re-opening of the historic eatery at some point in the future.
Yesterday, the fruits of those planning efforts were finally announced, as word broke that Tom Bergin’s may re-open as early as this Saturday, and that a major development is indeed in the works for the properties just to the north of the business on Fairfax. First, according to a report in EaterLA:
Eater can confirm that brothers Fran and Dave Castagnetti have signed on to operate Tom Bergin’s, after spending years running places like Firefly in Studio City and at spots like Union in Pasadena and Michael’s in Santa Monica. The pair have brought on chef Erik Punzalan (The Flats, Firefly) to oversee the kitchen, which will continue to offer Irish fare alongside a bar stocked with Guinness and whiskey. “It’s an LA institution,” said Dave Castagnetti over email, “and we plan to honor it.”
As of now, the plan for Tom Bergin’s is to open as soon as this weekend, keeping dinner hours only. That means 5 p.m. to midnight both Monday and Thursday (closed Tuesday and Wednesday), with an extension to 2 a.m. on Friday and Saturday and brunch service starting at 11 a.m. on Sunday.
The second half of yesterday’s big news was that developers submitted an application to the city earlier this week for approval of a new 209-unit development at 800 and 830 S. Fairfax sites (which are now home to two buildings containing a total of 40 rent-stabilized apartments), as well as the current Bergin’s parking lot, which was explicity separated from the Bergin’s building when that property received Historic Cultural Monument status earlier this year. According to UrbanizeLA:
The project, which calls for Transit Oriented Communities affordable housing incentives, would provide 28 units of extremely low-income housing in exchange for a density bonus, reduced parking, increase floor area, and relief from setback, open space, and transitional height requirements.
City records list the project applicant as Christopher Clifford. Clifford is the manager of two entities – 830 Fairfax Owner, LLC and 840 Fairfax Owner, LLC – which paid a combined sum of $19.6 million to purchase the apartment complex and Tom Bergin’s site within the past year.
Developer Clifford is also a vice president of the Las Vegas office of Colliers International, a real estate management and investment company. And, according to CurbedLA, the project is being designed by Reed Architectural Group. Basic features would include:
“…an amenity deck, some balcony units, and a small paseo with trees that would run between Tom Bergin’s and the development. Parking for the project would be provided in three levels, two above ground and one below—with a combined 239 spaces.”
On the heels of the two announcements, Ken Hixon, vice president of the Miracle Mile Residential Association, told the Buzz today that “We are delighted that Bergin’s is back in business. It has always been a landmark of the Miracle Mile, that is why we fought so hard to make its status official.” On the other hand, however, he was not quite as enthusiastic about the new development plans. “This is an over-the-top project in every sense of the phrase,” Hixon said. “It displays no respect for the surrounding community or the longtime tenants of the rent stabilized units that will be razed to build this monstrosity.”
The latter point was echoed yesterday by Los Angeles history and culture maven Kim Cooper, who pointed out in a social media post that while 40 relatively affordable units (around $1,850 for a one-bedroom) are being lost to the project, it will return only 28 very low income units to the area. “Where are these longtime Angelenos [who live in the current buildings] supposed to go?,” she asked.
We’re guessing that will be one of several major conversations taking place as the plans for the development move forward.