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L.A. Fire Station Plan Would Spare Razing Florentine Gardens Building

Times Staff Writer

The Florentine Gardens nightclub building in Hollywood would be spared from demolition under a proposal to make it part of a new Los Angeles fire station, according to a city plan.

The Hollywood Boulevard club has been at the center of a years-long dispute over where to put the new fire station. The current station, on Bronson Avenue, was built in 1951 and is considered too small.

Los Angeles wants to acquire the nightclub and the land surrounding it. A 16,000-square-foot fire station would be built and the nightclub building would become part of the fire station complex, according to city Bureau of Engineering documents.

But the city has butted heads over the plan with supporters of the nightclub, which was built in 1938 and became a famous nightspot in the ‘40s and ‘50s.

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In recent years, it has been a popular Latino dance club, and patrons and historic preservationists have suggested that the city put a new station elsewhere.

The city doesn’t own the land and would have to acquire it to carry out the plan.

The owner of the club, Kenneth MacKenzie, said through a spokesman Wednesday that he’s not changing his position.

“The owner plans to reject any and all offers,” said Bill Hooey, the spokesman. “The city wants to turn it into a warehouse. That’s not the spirit. Hollywood made Los Angeles famous and it’s part of the economy -- the tour buses still pull up to the club all night long.”

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Hooey predicted that the city would soon begin eminent domain proceedings against MacKenzie.

Julie Allen, a project manager for the city’s Bureau of Engineering, said the city planned to make MacKenzie an offer for the property.

She also said that the city doesn’t agree that the building meets the definition of a historic structure but realized that the community still has ties to it and thus decided to ask that it be spared.

The plan will be voted on Friday by the Board of Public Works. If passed, it would require a vote by the City Council.

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The historic significance of the old fire station on Bronson would also have to be studied before the city determines if it will sell the property.


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