Coming Home: West LA VA’s Building 209 Rehabilitated to House Veterans in Need

Building 209 after rehabilitation (Chattel, 2015)

Building 209 after rehabilitation (Chattel, 2015)

Chattel consulted on the rehabilitation and seismic retrofit of Building 209 at the West Los Angeles Veterans Affairs Medical Center (West LA VA) Campus. Collaborating with a team of architects and engineers, Chattel completed Section 106 review, consulting with the SHPO, Advisory Council on Historic Preservation, and Los Angeles Conservancy. The building was rehabilitated to accommodate a long term therapeutic supportive residential program housing homeless Veterans. Chattel advised the team in developing a project that conformed with the Secretary’s Standards to streamline concurrence from SHPO.

Interior of residential unit after rehabilitation (Chattel, 2015)

Interior of residential unit after rehabilitation (Chattel, 2015)

Constructed in 1945, Building 209 is Mission Revival in style and was constructed as a hospital and canteen; it is a contributing resource to National Register-listed West LA VA Historic District. Through research, rehabilitation, and evidence-based design, Building 209 has been fully restored and transformed into housing for 65 homeless men and women. Comprising 51,500 square feet of space, the three-level building supports a functional program of specialized accommodations and provides residents with stable housing as well as services necessary to aid in their recovery.

Original steel sash windows in the process of restoration and reglazing (Chattel, 2014)

Original steel sash windows in the process of restoration and reglazing (Chattel, 2014)

As part of the project, steel sash double hung windows were stripped of lead-based paint on site, reglazed to increase energy efficiency, and painted their historic color based on paint analysis. The building achieved LEED Gold certification. In November, Building 209 was awarded the Innovation in Design Merit at the Los Angeles Chapter of the U.S. Green Building Council’s (USGBC-LA) Sustainable Innovation Awards. 

TAP into History - ULI Technical Assistance Panel on Historic Wintersburg

On June 3-4 2015, Robert Chattel participated in an Urban Land Institute (ULI) Technical Assistance Panel (TAP) to provide recommendations on the reuse of Historic Wintersburg, a former Japanese community located in Huntington Beach, California.  The goal of ULI’s TAP program is to provide pro bono planning and development assistance to public officials, local stakeholders and nonprofit organizations who have requested assistance in addressing unique land use challenges. This TAP was sponsored by the National Trust of Historic Preservation in collaboration with the Historic Wintersburg Preservation Task Force.

The Historic Wintersburg TAP consisted of nine panelists, each of whom specialized in a development-related profession. Robert Chattel provided input on identification of the essential historic features to be retained in order for the rehabilitation program to conform with the Secretary of the Interior’s Standards for Rehabilitation, while allowing for adaptive reuse and supportive new development. 

Furuta family at home circa 1923 (Furuta Family collection)

Furuta family at home circa 1923 (Furuta Family collection)

The property was originally purchased and developed as agricultural land in 1908 by Charles Furuta and Reverend Hisakichi Terasawa, founder of the Wintersburg Mission. The original mission was constructed in 1910 and a subsequent church was built in 1934 and the property quickly transformed into a community gathering space for the growing first and second generation Japanese populations. In the 1920s, Furuta established a goldfish farm, which soon became the main goldfish distributor for the West Coast. Although the entire Wintersburg community was forcibly removed during World War II, the property remained largely intact and after the war, the original Japanese community returned. The property was sold to Rainbow Environmental Services/Republic in 2004; the property is currently unused and closed off to the public.

In 2014, representatives of the National Park Service visited the property, evaluated it and found it in a preliminary assessment to be eligible for listing for the National Register of Historic Places under Criterion A: Japanese American Settlement of the American West. Six historic features were identified including the 1910 mission, the 1934 church, the pastor’s house, the 1912 and 1947 homes of the Furuta family, and the circa 1910 pioneer barn, all within agrarian setting. The National Trust for Historic Preservation identified Historic Wintersburg as one of America’s 11 Most Endangered Historic Places of 2014. 

Furuta home (Chattel, 2015)

Furuta home (Chattel, 2015)

The TAP identified seven scenarios for adaptive reuse of the property and recommended a preferred scenario that maximized economic return, community use, and preservation of essential historic features. As described in the preferred scenario, the TAP recommended preservation of three of the historic structures within a landscaped setting, and compatible new construction with shared parking, public gathering area and open space. To read the TAP report, click here.

 

Mission Accomplished! October WCAPT Event at the Santa Barbara Mission

Chattel has been managing historic preservation projects at the Santa Barbara Mission as part of a National Park Service (NPS) Save America’s Treasures (SAT) grant since 2011. This summer, the projects have wrapped up and the Association for Preservation Technology, Western Chapter (WCAPT) will be holding a tour and presentation of the recently completed work. Presentations will be made by representatives of the Mission and Chattel, Conservator John Griswold and representatives from Restoration Contractor Spectra. The event will take place at the Mission on October 9th, 2015 starting at 1:30 pm. For more information check out the  WCAPT website and don't forget to register for the event here.

Our work at the Mission included preparing a Historic Structure Report, prioritizing work items within a limited budget, as well as managing a team of consultants consisting of Structural Engineer Nels Roselund and Conservator John Griswold along with an archaeologist, hydrologist, cost estimator and plumber. The SAT grant was implemented over four phases of work, each of which was competitively bid to pre-qualified contractors and required NPS approval prior to commencing work. Chattel is currently in the final stages of drafting an easement required under the SAT grant to protect character-defining features of the Mission.

Check out these selected before & after pictures of the completed work and join us at the event to learn more about the transformation! 

Chattel at the LA Conservancy Preservation Awards

Credit: Gary Leonard

On May 7th, 2015, Chattel staff joined a large gathering of preservation professionals for the 2015 Los Angeles Conservancy Preservation Awards, held at the Millennium Biltmore Hotel in downtown Los Angeles. This annual event recognizes outstanding work in the field of preservation for projects completed throughout the greater Los Angeles region.

This year, Chattel received an award for work performed on the Pacific Electric Railway - El Prado Bridge. Chattel was part of a comprehensive project team, which included the City of Torrance, Torrance Historical Society, Old Torrance Neighborhood Association, Krakower & Associates Structural Engineers, and Preservation Arts.  

The bridge, a signature work of architect Irving Gill, was a focal point of the city's original plan for the central core, now known as Old Torrance.  The project team was recognized for its efforts in revitalizing an icon of civic identity for the City of Torrance, fittingly, just in time for the bridge's centennial.  The project also exemplifies strong civic stewardship and community partnership, while expanding the public's understanding of the meaning and value of preservation.  

Council member Kurt Weideman accepted the award on behalf of the project team, which was able to celebrate their accomplishments over a delicious lunch, while learning about other noteworthy works of historic preservation.

 

Two Tales of Striking Black Gold

"Eureka! Two Tales of Striking Black Gold: From attendants pumping gas to baristas serving coffee" was the title of Robert Chattel's Three Minute Success Story presentation at the 40th California Preservation Conference. The rousing evening at the former Naval Training Center in San Diego had a Bob Hope-theme and featured indomitable host Tim Brandt in several roles including that of Phyllis Diller in a Mondrian inspired dress (woo hoo!). Costumed as a Gilmore Gas Station attendant, Robert presented the first black gold strike by AF Gilmore in 1905, when he struck oil while drilling for water on his nearby dairy farm; the second black gold strike by Starbucks occurred in 1971, when it opened the first store across from Pike Place Market in Seattle. On March 29, 2015, the Starbucks store at Highland and Willoughby in Hollywood opened to thunderous applause in social media. According to the rare press release for a single store opening, "Starbucks real estate and design teams are always looking for unique locations that connect us to the past...Sometimes we stumble on a gem like this one, and are honored to get the chance to bring it back to life." Kudos to the team and lattes all around!!!

A Window into Santa Barbara History

The fourth phase of construction at Mission Santa Barbara is well underway! The project team met on April 17, 2015 to see the work in progress.  "Windows" have been opened through exterior, Portland cement cladding on the convento wing to reveal a mix of underlying, early California building materials like sandstone, adobe, terra cotta, and brick.  These materials will be repaired, and a new overlay of lime-based plaster and paint will be applied. 

2015 City of Los Angeles Mills Act Workshop

The Mills Act Program is California’s leading financial incentive for historic preservation, providing potential property tax reduction to owners of qualified historic buildings. This informative event will provide an in-depth look at the review and approval process and provide tips for preparing successful applications.  

Join Chattel and representatives of the City of Los Angeles, Office of Historic Resources (OHR) and County of Los Angeles, Office of the Assessor for a Mills Act Workshop on Saturday, April 25 at 10:00 AM. The workshop is free, but reservations are required.

 R.S.V.P. at this link. 

Chattel Senior Associate Shane Swerdlow discusses Priority Consideration Criteria at the 2014 Mills Act Workshop

Chattel Senior Associate Shane Swerdlow discusses Priority Consideration Criteria at the 2014 Mills Act Workshop

 

Pecha Kucha at the Getty

On December 9, 2014, Robert Chattel was one of six presenters at the inaugural "Powered by Pecha Kucha" event sponsored by the Conserving Modern Architecture Initiative at the Getty. Robert presented a 6 minute 40 second presentation entitled Medicinal Masterpiece: Rehabilitation and Adaptive Reuse of the Stuart Building. Check it out!

A Torrance Icon Day and Night

The Torrance City Council presented a Proclamation to those involved in rehabilitating the bridge.  Pictured from left, front row:  Jamie Ruth Watson (President, Torrance Historical Society), Shane Swerdlow (Associate, Chattel, Inc.), Pat Furey (Mayor, City of Torrance), Elizabeth Overstreet (Engineering Manager, City of Torrance, Department of Public Works), and Andy Perez (Director, Port Affairs, Union Pacific Railroad).

The Torrance City Council presented a Proclamation to those involved in rehabilitating the bridge.  Pictured from left, front row:  Jamie Ruth Watson (President, Torrance Historical Society), Shane Swerdlow (Associate, Chattel, Inc.), Pat Furey (Mayor, City of Torrance), Elizabeth Overstreet (Engineering Manager, City of Torrance, Department of Public Works), and Andy Perez (Director, Port Affairs, Union Pacific Railroad).

On December 2, 2014, the Torrance City Council kicked off its weekly meeting with an official lighting ceremony for the 1913, Irving Gill-designed Pacific Electric Railway - El Prado Bridge. Chattel Associate Shane Swerdlow spoke at the event, accepting a Proclamation from the City Council on behalf of the team involved in the bridge’s rehabilitation. Watch the Proclamation presentation and lighting ceremony.

Torrance Historical Society members gathered at the bridge while Mayor Pat Furey flipped a switch at City Council Chambers to officially illuminate the structure (source of photo: Torrance CitiCABLE 3)

Torrance Historical Society members gathered at the bridge while Mayor Pat Furey flipped a switch at City Council Chambers to officially illuminate the structure (source of photo: Torrance CitiCABLE 3)

Chattel worked with structural engineer Krakower & Associates, concrete specialist Preservation Arts, and City of Torrance, Department of Public Works to develop a project that brought back the modern elegance of the arched, reinforced concrete bridge, which had suffered years of deferred maintenance. Work included removing paint, graffiti, and dense vines, patching damaged concrete, reconstructing wood guardrails, and adding clear anti-graffiti coating. Chattel also consulted with the Torrance Historical Society to come up with the official Pacific Electric Railway – El Prado Bridge name approved by the Torrance City Council—the structure was previously called “the bridge” and several other colloquial names. Read more about Chattel’s presentation to the City Council on the bridge’s name in the Torrance Tribune. Chattel also worked with City staff to develop the new lighting scheme, which consists of in-ground uplights accentuating the iconic arches.

Chattel worked with City staff to develop the new lighting scheme.  Pictured here is Lea Reis (Associate Engineer, City of Torrance, Department of Public Works) with a sample in-ground uplight.

Chattel worked with City staff to develop the new lighting scheme.  Pictured here is Lea Reis (Associate Engineer, City of Torrance, Department of Public Works) with a sample in-ground uplight.

Built in 1913 by the Pacific Electric Railway, the bridge originally served trains passing over tracks used by southern California's famous Red Cars. It is one of the first bridges to use arches purely for decoration, disguising an otherwise simple structure of concrete girders and beams. Southern Pacific Railroad later took over ownership of the bridge and donated it to the City of Torrance in 1986. The bridge was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1989. At a 100th birthday celebration on May 23rd, 2013, the American Society of Civil Engineers presented a plaque commemorating the bridge as a Historic Civil Engineering Landmark, joining the ranks of the Golden Gate and Brooklyn bridges. Today, it serves as Torrance’s eastern gateway and an icon of civic identity, prominently featured in logos and seals of City departments and organizations.

From top: bridge in 1913, soon after construction (Torrance Historical Society); 2012, before rehabilitation; 2013, after rehabilitation; and 2014, during lighting ceremony.

From top: bridge in 1913, soon after construction (Torrance Historical Society); 2012, before rehabilitation; 2013, after rehabilitation; and 2014, during lighting ceremony.

Banking on History: Five Incentives for Preservation Projects

CPF Workshop - Thursday, December 11th

Castle Green in Pasadena

Castle Green in Pasadena

Join Shane Swerdlow, Associate at Chattel, Inc. as he discusses the Mills Act at a special, day-long workshop on historic preservation financial incentives presented by the California Preservation Foundation at Pasadena’s historic Castle Green.

The Mills Act Program is California’s leading financial incentive for historic preservation, providing potential property tax reduction to owners of qualified historic buildings.  Owners must commit to a substantial scope of rehabilitation, restoration, and maintenance work described in a Mills Act Contract that is executed with a local city or county government.

The workshop will also focus on Federal Historic Preservation Tax Incentives, easements, and a variety of grant programs.

Register

Other speakers include: 

  • Kevin Sanada, National Trust for Historic Preservation
  • Tara Hamacher, Founder and President, Historic Consultants, Inc.
  • Diana Letsinger, Partner, Novogradac & Company LLP
  • William Huang, Director of Housing, City of Pasadena
  • Jesse Lattig, Preservation Director, Pasadena Heritage
  • Shane Swerdlow, Associate, Chattel, Inc.
  • Kevin Johnson, City of Pasadena, Planning & Community Development Department
  • Patricia Johnson-Conner, Los Angeles County, Office of the Assessor
  • Charles Loveman, Executive Director, Heritage Housing Partners
  • Christopher Smith, Architectural Resources Group
  • John LoCascio, Senior Architect, AIA, Historic Resources Group