Oh, No! Not Another Horror Story!

Deception, Incompetence and Damn Proud of It
Deception, Incompetence and Damn Proud of It

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:

Molly McClanahan

Buck Catlin

Don Bankhead

Dick Ackerman

Don Bankhead Downtown Fullerton Fullerton's Design Standards Redevelopment

7 thoughts on “Oh, No! Not Another Horror Story!

  1. Although this stuff happened when I was just a little kid I appreciate the fact that somebody remembers – and that probably nothing has changed.

    Thanks for not letting these stories die. They need to be told and retold. At least until Fullerton voters demand accountability from somebody.

    It makes me sick that the perpetrators of these fiascos are probably living happy well-heeled retirements on the taxpayers dime.

  2. So that’s not the original building? Hmmm…. seems to me while it is attractive that what the National Historic Registery has done is to go along with a “Disneyfied” version of historic.

  3. They kept the facade of the 1922 building (without windows – major preservation no no), removed the roof in its entirety, and stucco’ed the back. You can see where they put styrofoam under the stucco.

  4. juxtaposed with gumby signal lights and turn of the century architecture, downtown fullerton is a clash between disney’s toon town and main street

  5. Don’t throw the rat on me. Terry Galvin was the guy who wrote to the State Historic Preservation Officer. I have his letter to prove it!

  6. “In fact before constriction 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”.

    Opinion, hmmm?

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