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DOWNEY : City Refuses Permit for McDonald's Demolition

March 24, 1994|GREG MILLER

The city has refused to issue a demolition permit for a historic McDonald's restaurant, forcing the company to delay plans at least temporarily to tear down the structure, city officials said.

The company had planned to begin dismantling the 40-year-old landmark on Tuesday, city manager Gerald M. Caton said.

The restaurant at Lakewood Boulevard and Florence Avenue has been the center of a much-publicized tug of war between McDonald's executives and local preservationists.

Preservationists say the restaurant's Art Deco features--the golden arches that pierce the roof and the 60-foot sign featuring "Speedee," the winking hamburger mascot--are icons of 1950s Southern California. McDonald's officials have contended that the structure, which lacks indoor seating and a drive-through window, isn't equipped to meet the needs of today's consumer.

The company maintained that the restaurant was damaged in the Jan. 17 Northridge earthquake and closed it. The company has said it plans to build elsewhere in Downey a modern restaurant that will replicate the architectural flavor of the 1950s stand.

"The decision has been made to close the restaurant," said Kevin Mazzu, the company's Los Angeles marketing manager. "We're going to preserve as many of the historical elements, such as the Speedee road sign, as we can at the new location."

But Caton said that since the building is eligible to be listed in the National Register of Historic Places, state architects must evaluate earthquake damage before the structure can be altered. He said he expects the structure to be evaluated within 30 days, but does not know whether McDonald's officials can ultimately be persuaded to save the building.

He said the company's request for permission to demolish the building came as a surprise. "Quite frankly, we thought we were close to being able to work out a compromise between McDonald's and the city," Caton said Tuesday.

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