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Beverly Hills delays destruction of Neutra's Kronish House

The city will look for options for the residence and will draft a preservation ordinance.

August 04, 2011|By Martha Groves, Los Angeles Times

Bowing to community pressure, the owners of Richard Neutra's Kronish House in Beverly Hills have agreed to postpone its demolition until at least Oct. 10 to give preservationists a chance to devise a plan to save the residence.

In a related action, the Beverly Hills City Council early Wednesday asked the community's Planning Commission to devise a historic preservation ordinance.

It would be the first such ordinance for a city that has seen many culturally or architecturally significant structures fall to the wrecking ball.

An attorney for Soda Partners, the limited partnership that in January bought the Modernist Kronish House out of foreclosure for $5.8 million, agreed to the postponement early Wednesday after a three-hour public discussion about historic preservation in general — and the Kronish residence in particular — at a sometimes testy council meeting.

In recent days, the Los Angeles Conservancy, the American Institute of Architects, the National Trust for Historic Preservation and other organizations and individuals have bombarded the city with pleas to save the house on the north side of Sunset Boulevard.

At nearly 7,000 square feet, it was one of the largest homes the renowned Midcentury architect designed in Southern California. The house is now in severe disrepair.

The owners' plans to demolish it sparked an outcry in Beverly Hills. Unlike Los Angeles, Santa Monica, Pasadena and other communities, Beverly Hills has failed to pass a preservation ordinance. Many residents have bemoaned the loss over the years of structures that belonged to celebrities or were designed by master architects.

Mayor Barry Brucker and other council members acknowledged that a preservation ordinance was long overdue.

Preservationists applauded the developments. "Two good things happened tonight," said Linda Dishman, the conservancy's executive director.

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