At Avalon Chief's Request : Wrigley Home Investors to Improve Fire Safety

The group of private investors behind an effort to covert the Wrigley mansion on Santa Catalina into a bed-and-breakfast inn have acceded to the Avalon fire chief's request for construction of more powerful water pumps at the hilltop building.

Marlene McAdam, one of three Avalon residents who, with two Long Beach residents, is behind the conversion project, said the pumps will be included in the renovation, which is expected to begin in February. Renovation costs are expected to exceed $500,000.

Balked at Request

"If there was any way to get away from building the additional pumps and still have a safe building, we would do it," McAdam said. "But that's direct from the Los Angeles County code and we are in complete agreement with that now."

The investors had balked at complying with the Fire Department's request to increase the capacity of an existing pump from 230 gallons per minute to 2,000.

Fire Chief Jack Goslin said the additional capacity is needed because the mansion is above the salt-water reservoir used for firefighting.

Meanwhile, the group may get a break on some other building requirements because the state Office of Historic Preservation is expected to decide Feb. 1 on a request that the mansion be included in the National Register of Historical Places.

McAdam said that would allow more lenient enforcement of modern building codes for the 65-year-old mansion. For example, McAdam said, the codes require railing to be 42 inches high. She said the mansion's railings on outside terraces are only about 35 inches high.

'Would Change Appearance'

"To raise them seven inches would change the appearance of the house," McAdam said, adding that it will be up to the Building Department to decide which code requirements should be strongly enforced.

The 12-room inn, which will be called Mt. Ada Inn after the wife of William Wrigley Jr., is scheduled to open June 15.

The investors said they expect to sign a lease this week with USC and the Santa Catalina Island Conservancy, which control the property. Terms were not disclosed.

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