A century-old garage that now houses a restaurant is being considered for designation as a City Landmark.

The building, where the Enterprise Fish Company is located, on Kinney Street in the Ocean Park neighborhood, is aesthetically and historically significant, according to a consultant’s report to the Landmarks Commission.

Commissioners considered the property last week but asked city officials to return with more information.
The building was designed by an unknown architect and constructed in 1913.

In 1926, the brink building got a significant overhaul, gaining an Art Deco façade. From at least that point until the 1970s, it functioned as a storage garage for local auto repair shop.

The Pacific Electric Railway Company owned the building for a time, although the consultant was unable to determine exactly how they used the space.

“The property at 174 Kinney Street is associated with the early commercial development of Santa Monica, in particular the most intense period of development of the Ocean Park neighborhood during the 1910s and 1920s,” city officials said of the building in a report to the commission. “It is a representative, largely intact example of an automobile repair garage that serviced the cars of locals and visitors at a time when automobiles came to eclipse public transportation.”

For this reason, and the loose connection to Pacific Electric, the consultant believes that the building exemplifies elements of the cultural, social, economic, and architectural history of Santa Monica, therefore satisfying one of the six criteria by which a structure is judged for Landmark designation.

A building needs only to satisfy one criterion to be eligible, but more satisfied criteria are always helpful.

The consultant believes the building satisfies a second criterion because it is “an established and familiar visual feature of Ocean Park‚Äôs Main Street commercial district and is a prominent building.”

“This area was part of the Pacific Electric right-of-way and was mostly undeveloped during the historic period,” city officials said. “Today most of the adjacent blocks to the north and south of 174 Kinney Street contain parking lots and modern infill. For these reasons, the property does occupy an unusual location, though not unique as traditionally defined (one of a kind).”

The Enterprise Fish Company took over the building in 1977. Owners expressed some concern about the potential Landmark status at last week’s meeting.

Once a building is landmarked, it becomes more difficult to make changes or demolish it. This can lead building owners to appeal designations made by the commission in order to retain their ability to make changes to a structure.

The building owner asked the commission not to make any decisions that would adversely impact their ability to adaptively reuse the building in the future.

City officials will return with more information about the property at a future meeting and the commission will, once again, consider designation.

At least 114 structures have been designated as City Landmarks since landmarking began in 1975. At least three of those were demolished. Another seven building have been designated as Structures of Merit, with one designation nullified months later.

dave@smdp.com

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