Okay, another story of Redevelopment incompetence run amok. Sorry, but it’s like eating potato chips; once you start…
A visit to the City website will reward you with a list of historic buildings, including what they are calling the Landmark Plaza.
The inclusion of this structure (see image above) on the list is obviously meant to be self-congratulatory and take credit for historic preservation. Unfortunately nobody seems able (or willing) to recall what actually happened. So we’ll help out.
In the late 80s a fly-by-night “developer” wanted to remodel this historic building. The Redevelopment Agency decided to help out by giving the guy a third loan. Since the building was listed as historic the Landmark Ordinance required general adherence to the Secretary of the Interior’s Standards for Rehabilitation. These were serially violated when the developer removed the roof and created an outdoor walkway on the second floor, removing the then useless windows in the process. Other character defining features such as a marble stairway were removed as well.
The Agency staff knew all this. In fact before construction started it solicited an opinion from the State Office of Historic Preservation that informed the City that the remodel violated the Standards, would put the building at risk for nomination to the National Register of Historic places, and jeopardize potential tax credits. Yet the City went ahead, approving the work and subsidizing it!
Well, not long afterwards the “developer,” predictably, headed for the tall grass, and the Agency was left holding the bag. Standing in third place, their near-million dollar loan was gone – unless they bought out the folks at the head of the line. Which of course they did. More of our tax dollars at work.
In 1993 after the work was finally done, guess what the City did? They nominated their building for the National Register, turning the process on its head. To their credit the Heritage group of the time opposed this as a reward for deception and incompetent rehabilitation, but the nomination went through with a little political arm twisting.
Soon after the building was sold at a huge loss, but at least returned to the property tax roll.
There are Heritage group brass plaques on this building now, and a spot on the City’s website: a testament to self-delusion, self-congratulation, and abuse of the Fullerton taxpayer.
Well, sure, mistakes were made but hindsight is 20/20!
Our honor roll: