A developer wants to raze the Hanna-Barbera Studios buildings that animation
legends William Hanna and Joseph Barbera erected in 1963 at 3400 Cahuenga Blvd.
near Universal City, to build shops and apartments. HB preservationists are
scrambling to mount a campaign to save what they call is a historic and architecturally
significant landmark, while some residents of that neighborhood fear the project
would worsen traffic in the Cahuenga Pass.
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Los Angeles developer William McGregor has two proposals for the four-acre
site, according to the LOS ANGELES DAILY NEWS. One is for a self-storage facility
that could be shoehorned into it without destroying the three former HB studios.
The other is for a mix of shops and apartments that calls for demolishing two
of the buildings because the developer says they can't be retrofitted. McGregor
cites the needs for more housing, that community-serving retail will benefit
the neighborhood plus his plan is compatible with the area.
Ken Bernstein, director of preservation issues for the Los Angeles Conservancy,
said the site, "has architectural and cultural significance." "It's
an excellent example of mid-20th-century modernist architecture. It's where
animation really came of age for Hollywood and shaped cultural values throughout
the country." Arthur Froelich was the architect and is known for designing
many Los Angeles public structures, including the Hollywood Park racetrack.
The Los Angeles Cultural Heritage Commission voted against granting cultural-historic
monument status to the trio of buildings five years ago. Alan Leib, chairman
of the Los Angeles Modern Committee, told AWN that supporters had always meant
to re-apply to preserve the birthplace of television animation but had sidelined
the matter since the developer had left the buildings alone, except for office
rentals in what was the HB warehouse. Leib argues that "It is one of few
animation buildings, outside of Disney, that is still standing in Los Angeles."
He also said it should be a monument to Hanna and Barbera for all that they
have given to Los Angeles and the world.
Jordan Reichek, founder of Perky Pickle Studios, is marshalling efforts of
former HB employees and enthusiasts to honor the men he said resurrected the
animation industry and made it viable for television, "We owe it to them."
Reichek said he is working with Barbera, who recently celebrated his 92nd birthday,
to present his ideas for preserving the studio. (Hanna passed away two years
Los Angeles City Councilman Tom LaBonge, who represents the area, supports
the new development.
The Hollywood Hills West Neighborhood Council is scheduled to discuss the traffic
implications of the project with the developer at its meeting tonight, April
23, 2003 at 7:30 pm at Valley View Elementary School at 6921 Woodrow Wilson
Drive. HB preservationists and Leib will also be making a presentation at the
meeting and at future local government and neighborhood groups.