Residents trying to preserve an Echo Park bungalow court threatened with demolition scored a major victory on Tuesday, when the LA City Council unanimously approved an application to name the complex a Historic-Cultural Monument.
Built in 1922, the collection of seven Spanish-style bungalows is known as Wurfl Court, in honor of its developer, Louis Wurfl. A staff report from the Planning Department notes that Wurfl, who grew up in Echo Park, worked for MGM as a prop master and constructed sets for The Wizard of Oz.
Developer Bixel House, LLC purchased the court for $1.9 million in 2015 and in November, filed plans with the city to raze the homes and replace them with a dozen three-story small lot homes.
That aroused the ire of Councilmember Mitch O’Farrell, who represents the area. Arguing that the proposed project “flies in the face of our preservation efforts,” O’Farrell joined Wurfl Court residents in their efforts to save the property.
The court was nominated for landmark status by resident Lena Kouyoumdjian, who noted in her application that it is one of “fewer than 18 bungalow courts left in Echo Park,” an area where the iconic style of architectural development was once commonplace.
As the Los Angeles Business Journal notes, the council’s decision to landmark the property can be appealed for the next 30 days. After that, it will become a Historic-Cultural Monument, which makes demolishing the property significantly trickier (though still possible).
If a developer wishes to tear down a landmarked property, the Cultural Heritage Commission can formally object to the demolition, staving off the wrecking ball for up to a full year as city officials negotiate preservation-oriented compromises.