Save the Historic Adams Hill Gas Station

Thursday, July 07, 2005

The Historic Adams Hill Gas Station Has Been Saved!

From the Glendale News-Press (Thursday, July 7):

Gas station will be part of park

Commission recommends City Council approve park design, which includes gas station.

By Robert Chacon, News-Press and Leader

SOUTHEAST GLENDALE -- A 70-year-old gas station on the site of a proposed mini park in Adams Square should remain part of the park's design, a city commission recommended Wednesday.

The Parks, Recreation and Community Services Commission decided to recommend to the City Council to approve a design of the 12,548-square-foot park that preserves and incorporates the former Richfield Oil Co. Station at the corner of Palmer Avenue and Adams Street as a gathering place for the community.

The streamline-moderne gas station, built in 1936, has divided Adams Hill. Homeowners, who want the gas station preserved, and a group of Adams Square business owners, who wanted the station's space for more parking in the area. Advocates for demolishing the gas station saw hope when the commission last month wavered on an earlier decision to green-light the park's design by the firm Rios Clementi Hale Studios.

The commission's concerns were based on false information, commissioners said. Last month, commission member Armond Agakhani said that the estimate for preserving and refurbishing the gas was as high as $500,000, and that the commission was leaning toward demolition of the building and instead adding more parking for merchants.

Preserving the 160-square-foot gas station would cost about $37,400, said Hagop Kassabian, a project manager with the Parks and Recreation Division.

"We have something here that is workable, and I hope the City Council agrees with us," Commissioner James Ward said.

The park project will bring the community together, once it is complete, Agakhani said.

"We will be working closely with the Historic Preservation Commission," he said.

In a meeting last month, the Historic Preservation Commission voted to send a letter to the City Council in support of the project.

Among the many supporters of preservation that spoke out at the meeting were Historic Commission members Ruben Amirian, Deborah Dentler and Eric Axene.

"Historic buildings, at certain times in their lives, are ignored," Amirian said, addressing concerns of some who thought the building was an eyesore. "But this land was purchased by the city for a park, without an '--ing' at the end. You can not come at this late stage to recommend more parking."

Among those concerned about the gas station's size was John Cianfrini, president of the Adams Square Merchants Assn.'s board.

The station was taking up too much space in the park's design, Cianfrini has said, adding that the children's play area was too small because the gas station was there.

But he seemed to change his tune on Wednesday.

"If we had this rendering in the beginning, you guys would have broken ground."

Adams Hill residents have overwhelmingly approved of preserving the gas station. Adams Hill Homeowner Assn. members collected more than 640 signatures from residents there during a petition drive to drum up support for preservation.

Pat Salinas, the granddaughter of the original owner of the gas station, talked about her memories of the gas station.

"I don't like everything being torn down to build bigger, better things," she said. "We need to make an effort to show our kids and grandchildren where we came from."


The city had planned to save the historic 1936 Streamline Moderne gas station at the corner of Adams and Palmer and use it as the centerpiece of a brand new park.

But one local business owner, with purely selfish motives and no regard to the community in mind, is pushing for the gas station to be torn down, and part of the park turned into parking spots!

Nothing like (a) destroying the character of the neighborhood and (b) adding more parking to an area that doesn't have any need for it.


What You Can Do

Attend the Parks and Recreation Commission Meeting, Wed. July 6th at 3:30 pm, City Council Chambers, 613 E. Broadway, 2nd floor. And voice your support! Or, if you can't do that, send an email to George Chapjian, director of Parks, Recreation & Community Services, here:

I sent my letter today. Here's the text:

Dear Mr. Chapjian,

I moved to Glendale and Adams Hill in 2004, drawn in part to the community's unique charm -- and in particular, its two architectural landmarks (the Adams Square building and the historic Streamline Moderne gas station).

I was thrilled to learn that the City of Glendale had drawn up plans to restore the gas station and make it the centerpiece of a new park -- a unique park, and one that would help improve the value of the community. I purchased my home with this promise in mind. And I've been looking forward to taking my young son to the park and watching him stare in amazement at the classic gas station.

Now, the City is threatening to toss out its promise. I'm beginning to feel deceived. The overwhelming hundreds of Adams Hill residents want to see the park progress the way it has been promised for two years. I would hope that the sudden noise by one business owner would not derail that.

Adams Square does not need more parking -- its current street parking is never completely full. And the businesses on Palmer are mostly patronized by area residents who walk there -- or by a auto mechanic whose customers park on his site. It's really coming down to the owner of a building on Palmer -- who, dismayed that he hasn't been able to rent out an empty storefront at a whopping price, now believes more parking spaces will do the trick. (Instead, if this plan goes through, I can guarantee that those spaces will go empty most of the time -- and we'll be stuck with an unattractive, unused parking lot.)

In the process, this business owner is looking to destroy the chief characteristic of the neighborhood -- a classic structure that serves to draw people into the neighborhood. It's what makes the few shops on Palmer unique, rather than another random selection of stores.

Unfortunately, due to my job, I am unable to attend the July 6, 2005 Parks and Recreation meeting. But I'd love to perhaps set up a private meeting in the coming days to discuss further the need to keep on track your plans to build a mini-park in Adams Square -- and, as promised, restore the 1936 Streamline Moderne gas station.

Thank you very much for your time. Please contact me below to discuss this further, and set up a time to meet.


Michael Schneider


Glendale's Historic Preservation Commission Supports Saving The Classic Gas Station

From the Glendale News-Press:

Historical board rules to save gas station

Preservation commission will send a letter to the city urging it to keep the 70-year-old building as part of Adams Hill park.

By Robert Chacon, News-Press and Leader

GLENDALE -- A 70-year-old gas station in Adams Square is worthy of historic designation and should be preserved and turned into a facility that can be used by the community, the Historic Preservation Commission ruled Monday.

The commission approved sending a letter of support for the 160-square-foot streamline-modern building to the City Council and the Parks, Recreation and Community Services Commission. Both the council and the parks commission have supported preserving the building in the past, but have recently had doubts about saving it because of possible costs.

The gas station has been a source of contention in the neighborhood recently, with some local business owners saying that the gas station would take up too much space in a proposed mini park on the corner of Palmer Drive and Adams Street, and that the space could be better used to provide parking spaces for local businesses.

A group of homeowners, however, have supported the preservation of the building, calling it an icon of the community and a valuable resource for local functions.

During a two-year design process for the mini park, the gas station has been included in several versions of the park.

While several proponents of the gas station voiced their opinion at the meeting, no opponents to the plans were present. But their lament was clear, even from afar.

"It's disappointing to hear of the results," said Al Valenzuela, owner of Glendale Motor Center since 1990. "For the merchants that are here, it's not really conducive to them. There's nothing that gas station is going to bring."

The commission on Monday sided with preservationists.

"I would propose that the building remain part of the design [of the park]," Commissioner Ruben Amiranian said.

Commissioner Beala Neel suggested recommending to the City Council that the city begin the process of designating the gas station as a historical landmark, but Chairwoman Deborah Dentler, countered, saying that the designation would not offer the building any extra protection against demolition.

The design process for the mini park began in 2003 and in a series of meetings supported by the Parks, Recreation and Community Services Commission and the City Council. Doubts arose when rumors surfaced that the cost of preserving the gas station could cost nearly $500,000.

The figure is inaccurate, said Hagop Kassabian, a project manager with the Parks, Recreation and Community Services Department. Designers of the mini park, Rios Clementi Hale Studios, estimated the renovation of the building at about $37,500, he said.

Another concern of business owners was that the gas station would take up too much space in the 12,584-square-foot park, Kassabian said.

But the building is 160 square feet, and would fill about 760 square feet if awnings for shade were added, he said.

"We have been talking to homeowners and no one has said get rid of the building," said Patty Silversher, president of the Adams Hill Homeowners Assn., adding that several business owners in Adams Square also support the preservation of the gas station.

The park would also include a play area, an orchard, three walkways and gardens.

Tuesday, June 28, 2005


Not so surprisingly, other than one certain local business owner -- who happens to be spearheading to move to tear down the gas station and slice down the park -- community response has been overwhelmingly in favor of saving the structure.

From the pages of the Glendale News-Press:

Article hit contradictory notes on fair

Regarding "Fair drop-in by homeowners group fuels fury," Tuesday:

I was able only to briefly attend the neighborhood fair in Adams Square on Saturday, missing the apparent fireworks, but was struck by some intriguing contradictions in your article.

How can a city-funded "neighborhood" fair be "crashed" by people who actually live in the neighborhood? A neighborhood fair that sees the neighbors as drop-ins isn't very neighborly. Perhaps the city should more carefully screen to whom it dolls out money for such things -- our money, by the way.

It also seems that not all of the merchants have a problem with the gas station -- which, as a newcomer to Glendale, I think is very cool -- as a merchant reportedly donated the booth space for the homeowner's use. I wonder if this is a merchant(s) association or really just a merchant association.

I also wonder if those who oppose what is, to my understanding, an already approved use of this space might have a self-serving interest in an alternate use -- which would also not be very neighborly.

I have been a small-business owner going on 17 years now and can't imagine how any savvy business person with the sense God gave dirt wouldn't see the tremendous opportunity in Adams Square with the gas station as a unique focal point. Where I come from, even dirt knows the definition and importance of a neighborhood.


Revamped gas station would fuel area aesthetic

I continue to be surprised by the Adams Square Merchants Assn.'s call to tear down the classic 1930s gas station at the corner of Adams Street and Palmer Avenue.

The gas station and the Adams Square building are the two structures that give the neighborhood its art-deco and early century appeal -- an appeal that is central to drawing residents and nonresidents to shop in the neighborhood.

Without both structures, Adams Square becomes simply another random selection of stores with no identity.

And it destroys some of the character that convinced Los Angeles magazine to highlight the neighborhood in its January 2005 issue.

Rather than striving to be ordinary, the merchants association should be celebrating the fact that Adams Square boasts a unique structure that is, remarkably, still standing.

And instead of trying to tear something down, the organization should perhaps channel that energy and instead focus on filling the area's long-vacant storefronts -- including the historic birthplace of the Baskin-Robbins ice cream chain, which has sat empty for far too long.


Gas station in Adams Square is an enterprising opportunity

Regarding the Adams Square gas station, start thinking out of the box. Keep the original structure. Paint in iridescent red and white. Expand the footprint with wide circular windows. Hire car hops. Make it a Bob's. Now here's the really good part. Sell shares to the Adam's Square people first. Then offer purchase rights to city residents. If there any shares left, offer them to neighboring communities. I love this idea.

La Crescenta

I absolutely agree that the gas station in the Adams Square area should be preserved.

There are precious few of these Streamline Moderne stations left in the U.S., let alone in Los Angeles, so this one should definitely be saved.

It's overhanging canopies can easily be blended into a park setting providing shaded areas while taking up minimal square footage in the park itself.


I support the preservation of the Adams Hill historical gas station. I am a resident and homeowner of Adams Hill.


I do think the gas station should be preserved. I've owned my home in Adams Hill for 13 years and have always thought what a nice little recreation center or cafe that could become.

When a group of my neighbors were trying to buy the property a few years ago I was considering being one of the investors.

Things like that are what give neighborhoods character and identity, we shouldn't be so cavalier about knocking them down for more generic structures.

I was in Plymouth, Mass., last week and read about how some of the original neighborhoods from the 1600s and 1700s were razed and replaced by housing projects in 1964.

Looking back, it seems like a huge and obvious mistake to demolish part of our history like that, but at the time, the people didn't see it.

It's a warning to us -- we should be careful about doing things that will cause us to feel loss in the future.


I am very much in favor of including the restored vintage gas station in the proposed Adams Square park, as proposed by the architecture firm, Rios Clementi Hale.