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New Hurdles for Historic House

Major hurdles remain in efforts to save the Strong House, a Victorian landmark in the downtown area, from demolition.

Now, in addition to money problems--an estimated $500,000 is needed to move and renovate the building--a city official said that toxic materials have been found in soil tests at a site proposed for relocation.

“We’re doing more testing to find out the extent of the toxic materials,” Allyne Winderman, an architect with the city’s Community Redevelopment Agency, told the Cultural Heritage Commission in a progress report on efforts to save the structure.

The once-ornate Edward Strong home at 633 W. 15th St., now a 27-unit rooming house, has been marked for demolition since early summer, when the CRA applied to tear down the landmark. The 101-year-old house is in the path of a $390-million expansion of the Convention Center.

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The Cultural Heritage Commission stayed demolition for 180 days. Since then a plan was devised by a committee of city officials and preservationists to move the three-story building to a lot owned by the Department of Water and Power on Coronado Street in the Westlake area.

The committee, which includes representatives from the CRA, the Cultural Heritage Commission, the mayor’s office, Councilwoman Gloria Molina’s office and the Los Angeles Conservancy, wants to find trade unions willing to renovate the building for little or no money, and then see it used as low-income housing.

But preliminary testing has found toxic materials at the proposed site, Winderman reported to the commission, which recommends potential landmark buildings to the City Council.

The Strong House--named after its initial occupant, a salesman--is typical of the expensive homes built between downtown and the then-new USC campus at the end of the last century. It was designated a city cultural-historic monument in 1976.

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A source of money to move the house has not been found, Winderman told the commission. Nor has her agency found a nonprofit group to manage the building, she said, and nothing firm has developed from talks with trade unions.


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