West Hollywood Plummer Park’s historical Fiesta Hall conference center, located at 1150 N. Vista St. had some recent work done to its exterior. Images taken on February 6, 2021, show four double-sided gates have been added to the outdoor hallway area at the Vista entrance. The new gates block public access to the walkway, which was open and known to be used as shelter by individuals with housing insecurity.
A city employee was painting the newly installed gates a light blue color to match the rest of the ironwork around Fiesta Hall at the time images were taken for WEHO TIMES. According to an eye witness who frequently uses the free City Line shuttle in front of the building, the gates were installed two weeks prior to February 6th, in late January, 2021.
It is not yet clear why the gates were added. The eyewitness told WEHO TIMES she believed they were installed to ward off the homeless individuals who she says she sees sleeping inside the walkway, something she said is a problem that is more common during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Fiesta Hall was constructed in 1949 by architect H.L. Gogerty for Los Angeles County. Its main purpose was to serve as an auditorium. The Spanish Colonial Revival building has been used as a venue for several city events. The 300 capacity auditorium is known for featuring performances in the arts, award ceremonies and the space was also used for 12-step recovery meetings on Sunday evenings prior to the pandemic.
The West Hollywood is currently estimating costs for upgrades to Plummer Park with a plan to use former redevelopment bond proceeds.
In 2017, the City took steps towards re-envisioning Plummer Park that included a multi-layered approach to community outreach in the form of visioning workshops and facilitated discussions. In 2019, further feasibility and budget assessment studies were completed. According to a city staff report from October 7, 2019, Plummer Park visioning is expected to begin in the summer or fall of this year, but the process could take up to a year to complete before construction begins. In addition, the public health and economic impacts of COVID-19 may create further delays.
The Plummer Park Project has about $9.5 million available from former redevelopment bond proceeds including interest that must be used for this project. These funds were issued by the City’s former Community Development Commission in 2011. State legislation approved in 2015 allowed the City to use these funds; whereas, previously, their use was frozen by State law. Although there is currently no deadline to use the funds, it may be prudent to use the funds soon in the case State law changes in the future.
The most recent proposed upgrades using the redevelopment bond proceeds included the following:
• Construction costs related to the option for updating Great Hall/Long Hall
totaled: $3.3 million
• There were also additional cost-related options to reconfigure Great
Hall/Long Hall (relocating pre-school, reconfiguring to accommodate a meeting room, computer room, catering kitchen, etc.), which added various costs.
• Construction costs related to updating Fiesta Hall totaled: $2.8 – $4.5 million
range (depending on the level of modernization work involved)
3. Permanent Dog Park Area
• The cost for this varied between $385k – $510k depending on the location
and level of soundproofing required.
Capital improvements at Plummer Park have been under consideration for many years. The facilities at the park are in need of repair and the community is anxious to see these improvements implemented. Because of COVID-19, many of the typical uses for Great Hall/Long Hall and Fiesta Hall have been postponed or cancelled and this may be an appropriate time to move forward with improvements.
Earlier this month, the West Hollywood Preservation Alliance (WHPA) released a statement in support of the Plummer Park Upgrades initiated by Mayor Pro Tempore Lauren Meister and Councilmember John D’Amico.
WHPA sees this item as compliant with the following goals of the West Hollywood General Plan:
HP-3: Protect cultural resources from demolition and inappropriate alterations.
HP-4: Increase the public’s awareness of the City’s history and cultural resources.
HP-5: Promote the preservation of cultural resources through maintenance and rehabilitation incentives and technical assistance.
The community group Protect Plummer Park and residents throughout the city were instrumental in ensuring that Great Hall/Long Hall became listed on the National Register of Historic Places, and their efforts helped to establish the West Hollywood Preservation Alliance.
With federal recognition already bestowed on Great Hall/Long Hall, the WHPA believes that now would be a good time for the City Council to also start thinking about meeting another General Plan Goal:
HP-2: Continue to identify and evaluate cultural resources, and HP-2.2: The City should seek designation of eligible properties as West Hollywood Cultural Resources and/or Historic Districts.
The WHPA urges the City Council to proactively initiate the process to designate Great Hall/Long Hall as well as Fiesta Hall in Plummer Park as local cultural resources in West Hollywood, similar to what the city did with the local designation of the historic Formosa Café.