File photo
File photo

DOWNTOWN — The producer of “True Grit” and “World War Z” now owns the old post office building.

SkyDance Productions purchased the building in late December, United States Postal Service (USPS) officials said Tuesday. They could not immediately confirm the price of the sale.

USPS shuttered the New Deal-era building on Fifth Street in June. The sale is part of a national USPS plan to sell properties and plug the organization’s multi-billion dollar budget shortfall.

The Landmarks Commission voted unanimously to file an application to designate the space as a city landmark on Monday night.

Once filed, the property will be evaluated under a series of criteria. If approved, the historic building will be further protected from changes.

In August, City Council approved a preservation covenant for the 1937 building, protecting its historical features, both inside and out.

SkyDance has hired Robert Chattel, a preservation architect, to help them with the historical aspects of the property, Paul Schwake, chief operating officer of SkyDance, said at the meeting.

“It was an intensive process to acquire it,” he said. “We’re just coming back from that process and getting our team together … so we’re moving as fast as we can and that’s why we’re meeting here tonight.”

Commissioners asked Schwake if SkyDance would be interested in filing an application for landmark status on its own. Schwake said he’d have to speak with his boss.

“We’re always very interested in seeing the property owners, especially if they believe they have something of value in the way of cultural resource in our community, seeking a designation, rather than the commission acting proactively,” said Commissioner John Berley.

Commissioners ultimately decided that it wasn’t worth delaying the landmarking process. They voted to file their own application.

“When the covenant was adopted it was envisioned that landmark designation would follow fairly quickly because this body would be the means of implementing that language so that a new life could go forward for the property,” said Commissioner Ruthann Lehrer.

Filing the application puts a freeze on all work that could be done, said Chair Pro Tempore Margaret Bach.

SkyDance plans to cooperate with the commission, Schwake said.

“We’re excited about working with the commission staff about developing the plans for the project,” he said.

Residents protested the closure of the old post office, saying the location was convenient, and they’ve complained about the new post office, located on Seventh Street just south of Colorado Avenue.

Parking is insufficient at the new post office, they say, and they demanded more on-site parking spaces.

Rep. Henry Waxman (D-Santa Monica) said that the USPS didn’t hold up its end of an agreement that stated they would provide public parking spaces. The agreement allowed them to relocate the post office.

In response the USPS said they would create 19 public parking spaces. Those spaces have been restriped, said USPS spokesperson Richard Maher, and they are just waiting on new signage before making them available to the public.

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