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Restorer Pleased by Plans for Neighborhood Revival : Owner of Chapman Park Building Greets News of Market Project as Faith in Mid-Wilshire's Future

June 12, 1988|DAVID M. KINCHEN | Times Staff Writer

More than eight years after he began restoring the 1929-vintage Chapman Park Building at the northwest corner of 6th Street and Alexandria Avenue, Douglas R. Curran is looking for new worlds to conquer.

Or at least, new buildings to restore: The adage that a developer's favorite building is his next one seems to apply equally well to restoration developers.

The 33-year-old Curran, who lives and works in the building, is delighted to see that preservationist/developer Wayne Ratkovich is restoring the Chapman Market across the street: It confirms his faith in the revival of this Mid-Wilshire neighborhood that once was the advertising center of Los Angeles.

"Andresen Typographics, our most visible tenant at the corner of 6th and Alexandria, serves all the major ad agencies in the city," Curran said. "It's the best type shop in town, and it's the kind of tenant that epitomizes what I'm looking for."

'Lived in Building'

Also occupying space in the building are several commercial photographers, a motion picture designer and Jerry Jensen, whom Curran describes as "a friend, a classical pianist, a computer wizard and a philosopher."

"During the restoration process, which I did on a tight budget while I lived in the building, I thought a lot about what kind of businesses would want to be here," he explained during a tour of the building, designed by Stiles Clements of Morgan, Walls & Clements.

From about 1910 to 1965, the firm was one of the architectural powerhouses of L.A., designing the Atlantic Richfield Building, the Mayan Theater, the Carnation Co. headquarters and many of the early Ralphs supermarkets.

"There is a funky, urban quality about this neighborhood, with the Ambassador Hotel setting the tone, along with the Wiltern Theatre complex about three blocks away," Curran said.

Mechanical Aptitude

"It's no surprise that creative people would choose to be in the building, with its paneled board room, the massive corner tower, the gated courtyard."

Born in Hollywood--he graduated from Hollywood High in 1973--Curran delights in the neighborhood.

Blessed with mechanical aptitude--he once owned an auto body shop in Glendale with his older brother, and he works on his 1960 Ferrari convertible and his Triumph 750 motorcycle--Curran did most of the restoration work on the building himself.

"It would have cost $1 million to fix up the building, which had been owned by our family since the 1960s, so I decided to do the work myself," he said. "That took five years, and now I'm looking for another fixer-upper."

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