Unanimous Council Vote Spares Historic El Greco Apartments

Times Staff Writer

The Los Angeles City Council on Tuesday rescued a historic Westwood Village apartment building from demolition so that it can be moved to a new site and converted into low-cost housing for senior citizens.

The council voted unanimously to withhold until Aug. 1 permission to demolish the 14-unit El Greco apartment complex.

This will allow Alternative Living for the Aging, a nonprofit agency, time to acquire a site where the apartments can be relocated and remodeled for senior citizens, officials said.

The vine-covered, Mediterranean-style building is said to have strongly influenced the early architectural development of Westwood Village, and it was named a city historical monument in 1980.

Modeled After Home

The 1930s-era building by architect Clara Bertram Humphrey was modeled after the home of the painter El Greco in Toledo, Spain.

Tenants and conservationists have been fighting to save the building from the wrecker's ball since the owner announced about five years ago that he planned to demolish it and build condominiums.

Alternative Living for the Aging came up with the plan to move the El Greco from Tiverton Avenue to another location, where it would be converted to affordable housing for low- and moderate-income senior citizens.

Director Janet Witkin said the agency has entered into escrow to purchase a property in the Beverly-Fairfax area, and the council's action on Tuesday will give it the time it needs to complete the acquisition.

The owner of the El Greco, R. W. Selby and Co. Inc., has donated the building and contributed $55,000 toward moving costs, Witkin said.

The company revised its original proposal for condominiums, and now plans to build 65 apartments on the El Greco site and a neighboring property, officials said.

Alternative Living for the Aging is seeking funding from individuals, public agencies and foundations to finance the senior citezens housing project, Witkin said. The exact cost of the move and remodeling has not yet been determined, she said, but it is expected to be at least $500,000.

May Open Next Year

If all goes well, the El Greco will open to seniors by the beginning of next year, Witkin said.

The agency will screen applicants, seeking those who are healthy, flexible and willing to live in a cooperative community, she said. Residents will have their own apartments, but will be expected to help each other with tasks such as shopping, cooking and driving.

The purpose of the program is to provide the elderly with alternatives to living alone or in an institution, she said.

The agency has two cooperative housing projects in the Beverly-Fairfax area, and is building another in Santa Monica which will be completed later this year. There are some openings available in the two co-ops, she said.

Alternative Living for the Aging is located at 7563 1/2 Beverly Blvd.

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