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Council Gives Farmers Market Scaled-Down Historical Status

TIMES STAFF WRITER

The Los Angeles City Council adopted a scaled-down historical designation for the Farmers Market on Wednesday, opening the way for construction of a regional shopping center behind the Fairfax District site.

Previously, the Cultural Heritage Commission recommended that virtually the entire property be placed under the protection of the city’s preservation laws, which could have delayed the A. F. Gilmore Co.'s development plans.

But the City Council’s Arts, Health and Humanities Committee excluded a set of newer buildings at the 57-year-old open-air market, and the full council Wednesday unanimously endorsed its recommendations.

William K. Barth, a Westwood attorney who grew up in the area, nominated the entire site as a historic-cultural monument in January as a tactic to reduce Gilmore’s development plan. Barth said he found the council’s latest action “minimally acceptable.”

“It’s more than we had when we started,” he said, noting that the market’s original buildings will be protected, along with the 19th-Century Gilmore Adobe, one of the oldest buildings in the city.

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The developer will be required to keep the market’s trademark clock tower, and changes in the original market structure will have to be approved by Cultural Heritage Commission staffers.

Allan J. Abshez, an attorney for the developer, said construction is expected to begin early next year.

Plans call for the demolition of the newer buildings on the north side of the Farmers Market parking lot, along with removal of several kitchens scattered around the property.

The open-air market itself will continue to operate, he said, along with the adobe, which has been remodeled as office space for the Gilmore Co. Plans call for the adobe eventually to be reopened as a restaurant.

“It had always been the plan of the Gilmore Co. to preserve those two areas, and the shopping center is being constructed adjacent to them,” Abshez said.


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