By Olin Ericksen
May 17 -- The reported birthplace of modern skateboarding
-- home now to a one-story surf and skate shop on Main Street
-- has been landmarked only months after a condo and retail
development seemed set to consume it.
Santa Monica's Landmarks Commission Monday voted unanimously
to landmark the building now home to Horizon's West Surf and
Skate shop on Main Street near Pico Boulevard, not for its
architectural merits, but for its cultural significance.
"They changed the character of skateboarding in Santa
Monica... and the world,” said Planning Commissioner
Barbara Kaplan. “It's very exciting, because this is
a new direction for the commission.
"I think the community really encouraged us to go forward
on this," said Kaplan, who is an architect. "Everything
kind of fell into place.”
Referred to by some as a "dog of a building" in
the heart of "Dog-town" – a moniker affixed
to Santa Monica nearly three decades ago because of its gritty
reputation among surfers and skaters – the building
was once partially home to renowned surfboard shaper Jeff
Ho and the acclaimed Zephyr skateboard team.
Many argue the Zephyr team transformed skateboarding from
an illegal activity in drained swimming pools across Santa
Monica and Venice into an international phenomenon.
According to the commission’s decision Monday, the
west wing of the building at 2001-2011 Main Street will be
spared from demolition, preserving Horizon's surf shop, which
also sells Zephyr and Dogtown memorabilia.
The rest of the building will be converted to 14 units of
mixed-use housing with ground-floor retail, mirroring a blitz
of development on Main Street, including a block-long apartment
building soon to open across the street.
An Environmental Impact Report is still pending and is expected
to be issued in the next few months before the project goes
before the Planning Commission for approval.
After months of moving forward with development, residents
called on the landmarks commission to designate the building
as a landmark. While at an impasse on the issue, the building's
owner reportedly reached a deal to landmark only the West
end of the building and develop the rest.