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Old Posted Jan 7, 2013, 11:36 PM
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revheavyg revheavyg is offline
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Join Date: Dec 2012
Location: Pico Rivera
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(William and Clifford Balch, 1927)
903 and 909 S. Atlantic Blvd., Los Angeles
(Photos by ME revheavyg)
(story by L.A. Conservancy staff writer)
On August 19, 2012, the Golden Gate Theatre reopened as a CVS Pharmacy, returning public access to the historic building through a new use.

In March 2010, the Los Angeles County Regional Planning Commission approved plans for the retail conversion. The Conservancy and the Los Angeles Historic Theatre Foundation worked to make sure the plans included a long list of conditions to protect the Golden Gate’s historic features – from retaining the balcony to exposing at least seventy-five percent of the auditorium ceiling, keeping all of the original gold ornamentation visible.
An important aspect of our work was making sure modifications by CVS were reversible (not permanent), so that the building can function as a theatre in the future. Safeguards included leveling the auditorium rake in a reversible manner and safely storing the shell-shaped concession stand for future use.
Although the building’s use as a retail pharmacy is not ideal, we believe it’s far better than leaving the theatre vacant and deteriorating, as it has been for twenty-five years. The realized plan is a significant improvement over the original proposed project, and we appreciate the willingness of the Charles Company and CVS to reconfigure their plan to protect the theatre’s most significant features. We also applaud the County Regional Planning Commission for making the building’s preservation a priority.About the Theatre Built in 1927 at the prominent corner of Whittier and Atlantic Boulevards in unincorporated East Los Angeles, the Golden Gate Theatre is one of a handful of neighborhood movie palaces remaining in Southern California. It is the only East Los Angeles building listed in the National Register of Historic Places.The Spanish Churrigueresque-style theatre was designed by William and Clifford Balch, who also participated in the design of the El Rey Theatre on Wilshire Boulevard and the Fox Theatre in Pomona. The Vega Building formerly surrounded the Golden Gate Theatre. Photo courtesy Los Angeles Public Library.The Vega Building, a historic retail building that once surrounded the theatre, suffered severe damage from the 1987 Whittier Earthquake and was demolished in the early 1990s.The theatre has sat vacant ever since.The Process: In March 2009, the County released the draft environmental impact report (EIR) for a proposal to convert the Golden Gate Theatre into a retail pharmacy. The original plan would have left the theatre interior virtually unrecognizable by removing or covering up architectural features, including removing the balcony.The Conservancy commented on the draft EIR stating our position that any alterations should meet the Secretary of the Interior’s Standards for the Treatment of Historic Properties, be reversible, and maintain the theatre's listing in the National Register of Historic Places.We also requested thorough consideration of alternative uses more compatible with the theatre's historic function, as desired by many in the community. At the request of the County Planning Commission, the Conservancy provided several examples of historic movie theatres that have been sensitively converted for retail use.In response to concerns raised by the Conservancy, the State Office of Historic Preservation, the Los Angeles Historic Theatre Foundation, and community residents (among others), the project was substantially modified to leave more of the historic theatre interior intact and visible. The Conservancy has worked with owner the Charles Company, tenant CVS, and preservation architect Robert Chattel over the past year to explore options for improving the project. While the final EIR concluded that the modified project does not fully meet the Secretary of the Interior’s Standards, the revised plan retains the theatre’s listing in the National Register of Historic Places.The final EIR was released on February 2, 2010 and certified by the Regional Planning Commission on February 17. The Conservancy and several members of the public spoke at the hearing.
The Conservancy asked the commission to impose specific conditions to ensure maximum retention of historic fabric, including an explicit requirement to repair the auditorium ceiling and leave it exposed to the public. These conditions were incorporated into the project before its final approval in March 2010.
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