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Venice Stakeholders Oppose Sale of Historic Venice Post Office

From the Venice Stakeholders Association:

Venice Board 1 E-mail Small

May 15, 2011

Consumer Affairs – U.S. Postal Service
7001 S. Central Avenue – Los Angeles CA 90052-9631

Re: Venice Post Office, 1601 Main Street and Venice Carrier Annex, 313 Grand Blvd., Venice, CA

Ladies and Gentlemen,

I am writing on behalf of our organization to oppose the sale of the historic Venice Post Office.

This structure represents one of the few remaining Works Projects Administration projects in our community. The murals in its foyer depict notable moments in our community’s history.

We are concerned that the protection afforded by the State Historic Preservation designation, which we understand has not yet been awarded to this structure, will not ultimately prevent demolition, should a new owner wish to make another use of the site. This protection simply allows a government entity or a private party to purchase the structure to avoid demolition, which leaves the future of the structure in perpetual doubt.

Further, as pointed out by Mr. Richard Maher of the Postal Service’s Public Affairs and Communication Office in his appearance before the Venice Neighborhood Council, the Postal Service cannot assure that the historic foyer of the building would remain open to the public once the property is sold to a private party. If re-proposed as a bank, for example, it is likely that the foyer would continue to be open to the public. However, as a law office or film production office or in many other potential uses, it is not likely to be accessible to the broad public.

We believe the only course of action for the Postal Service is to maintain possession of the Post Office and move the sorting operations for Venice (or for the section of Venice near and around the Post Office) into the Post Office building, with the rest being moved inland to less expensive property.

Further, please find attached plans for the Annex site to be converted to a community and arts center and a public park. We would propose that the City and County of Los Angeles sponsor a park bond act for this and other meritorious parks projects throughout the County, as was done with Proposition A some years ago. The proceeds would be used to fund the purchase and retrofitting of the building and site to this new community use. Proposition A provided $10 million dollars for the refurbishment of the Venice Boardwalk and many other parks project in Los Angeles County and this mechanism is certainly available in this instance as well.

Sincerely yours,

Mark Ryavec
Mark Ryavec, President
Attachments
cc: Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, Supervisor Zev Yaroslavsky, Councilman Bill Rosendahl

Venice Board 2 E-mail Small

ATTACHMENT:

Adaptive Re-Use Proposal to Create a Windward Circle Park and Community/Arts Center
• The Venice Postal Annex, located on Windward Circle between Windward and Grand Avenues, has been offered for sale by the Federal Government. Our understanding is that they are looking for a buyer to provide land and cash for the property.
• The triangular piece of land is listed as 77,722 square feet and is zoned into three parcels. The eastern portion is zoned commercial, the large middle area is zoned as parking and a small tip at the west is zoned commercial.
• The property is part of the original Venice of America Tract subdivided by Abbot Kinney. It has seen various incarnations, from the Venetian Villas and Cosmos Social Club that included open park space, to a grocery store, and its present use/state as a U.S. Postal sorting facility.
• As neighbors to this large plot of land, our hope is to have the site reused in an environmentally sensitive manner while restoring it as an open park space. To compliment Venice’s arts history and culture, we want to preserve the existing structure for use as a community/arts/performance center, while up-dating the building to current energy standards. This will add beauty to the neighborhood and a central gathering place for Venice residents and visitors and compliment the recently restored Venice sign on Pacific and the plaza at Speedway and Windward.
• Our thought is to reuse the existing building, which is 17,000 s.f., with a large, open floor plan. The proposed renovation imagines this space as several flexible multipurpose rooms potentially including rehearsal, dance and performance space, a rotating art, photography and/or sculpture gallery, a classroom, meeting rooms, cinema room, kitchen, restrooms and a small office. The facility is to be fenced and closed at night. (Drawings attached.)
• The open space is imagined as a park, with drought tolerant plants, decomposed granite walkway, sculpture garden and possibly a water feature. The goal is to tie into the Windward Circle, and possibly bring in some Venice historical features like a permanent historical photo exhibition, a gondola sculpture, etc. One concept would include re-creation of one of the original Venice-of-America bridges over a stretch of canal.

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