An interim zoning ordinance adopted by the City of West Hollywood last February has turned developers into patrons of the arts.
The law requires a 1% construction cost allocation for public art, either as a project enhancement or as a contribution to a public beautification trust fund equal to that sum.
West Hollywood's art-in-public-places stipulation is not exclusive to that community.
Others, including the City of Los Angeles, have adopted it, but the Westside community requirement is unique in that it includes residential development as well as commercial and industrial, and applies to any project with a building value at or more than $500,000.
Homestead Group Associates, a Brentwood-based real estate development firm, is the first developer of a new residential project in West Hollywood to comply with the special terms of the ordinance, and as such, is enjoying both the challenge and the implications of its pioneering role.
For the Record
Los Angeles Times Sunday December 13, 1987 Home Edition Real Estate Part 8 Page 6 Column 2 Real Estate Desk 1 inches; 24 words Type of Material: Correction
Remarks attributed to Rob Pressburger in the Dec. 6 story on Art in Public Places should have been credited to Rob Pressman, partner at L. A. Group Inc. of Calabasas Park.
"There was no precedent for the art requirement for residential developments, so we felt a certain responsibility in providing something the community could be proud of," said Homestead's Noam Schwartz, "and, in the process, establish a good image for our firm."
"The approach was new and different for residential art selection as opposed to art pertaining to larger public buildings. We had to think in terms of a more intimate scale," said Rob Pressburger of L. A. Design Group of Calabasas Park, the landscape architect for the Homestead developments.
As a team with the developer and with project architect Navy F. Banvard of Johannes Van Tilburg & Partners of Santa Monica, Pressburger enlisted the cooperation of the Museum of Contemporary Art's Elizabeth Smith, a curator with expertise in design and architecture, to select qualified artists and to help in the final judging of the works that would be used on Homestead projects.
Concurrently, West Hollywood and its Planning Department (headed by city Planning Manager Howard Zelefsky) is eager to further encourage and support creative efforts of developers in keeping with its ongoing "Creative City" slogan.
"There will have to be some give and take between city and developer in attempting to reach a compromise on some of the controversy that may arise in terms of blocking views, traffic mitigation, but the development community has been most cooperative, and we expect to do the same," Zelefsky said.
Currently in various stages of planning and construction in West Hollywood, are several Homestead apartment buildings: on Larrabee Street (a 17-unit apartment with 18,500 square feet); on Huntley Drive, three fourplexes for a total of 15,000 square feet; on Harratt Street (21 units with 23,000 square feet), and on Palm Avenue (29 units with 31,000 square feet), all within the 1.9-square-mile community.
The buildings, ranging from $700,000 to $1.3 million in construction costs, are to be located on parcels totaling 1.5 acres of land purchased by the firm last spring for $2 million. Art pieces for the properties will range from $70,000 to $100,000.
Art appropriateness to function, in this case a residential setting, was an initial concern for the planning team. "Artists were invited to see the architectural plans for the apartment buildings and asked to keep in mind certain aspects of safety, choice of materials and relationship to the structure," Pressburger said.
Homestead's pioneering efforts required that certain guidelines be given the artists in terms of building limitations for locating the art. One of the city's requirements is that the art must be publicly visible from the curb.
Sought MOCA Help
Homestead's Schwartz, Pressburger and Banvard worked closely with curators at MOCA both in the selection of qualified participating artists, and enlisted its assistance in judging the entries.
Still in the process of being organized is the city's Fine Arts Board, which will eventually take over the task of selecting and coordinating public art for the community.
Its fine arts coordinator, Ian Tanza, who brings to the community his longtime theater and television production experience and runs the cable channel for the city, expects this kind of artistic control will do a lot to raise art awareness and appreciation within the community.