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Hanna-Barbera Buildings May Be Torn Down

A developer wants to raze the Hanna-Barbera Studios buildings that animation legends William Hanna and Joseph Barbera erected in 1963 at 3400 Cahuenga Blvd. near Universal City, to build shops and apartments. HB preservationists are scrambling to mount a campaign to save what they call is a historic and architecturally significant landmark, while some residents of that neighborhood fear the project would worsen traffic in the Cahuenga Pass.

Los Angeles developer William McGregor has two proposals for the four-acre site, according to the LOS ANGELES DAILY NEWS. One is for a self-storage facility that could be shoehorned into it without destroying the three former HB studios. The other is for a mix of shops and apartments that calls for demolishing two of the buildings because the developer says they can't be retrofitted. McGregor cites the needs for more housing, that community-serving retail will benefit the neighborhood plus his plan is compatible with the area.

Ken Bernstein, director of preservation issues for the Los Angeles Conservancy, said the site, "has architectural and cultural significance." "It's an excellent example of mid-20th-century modernist architecture. It's where animation really came of age for Hollywood and shaped cultural values throughout the country." Arthur Froelich was the architect and is known for designing many Los Angeles public structures, including the Hollywood Park racetrack.

The Los Angeles Cultural Heritage Commission voted against granting cultural-historic monument status to the trio of buildings five years ago. Alan Leib, chairman of the Los Angeles Modern Committee, told AWN that supporters had always meant to re-apply to preserve the birthplace of television animation but had sidelined the matter since the developer had left the buildings alone, except for office rentals in what was the HB warehouse. Leib argues that "It is one of few animation buildings, outside of Disney, that is still standing in Los Angeles." He also said it should be a monument to Hanna and Barbera for all that they have given to Los Angeles and the world.

Jordan Reichek, founder of Perky Pickle Studios, is marshalling efforts of former HB employees and enthusiasts to honor the men he said resurrected the animation industry and made it viable for television, "We owe it to them." Reichek said he is working with Barbera, who recently celebrated his 92nd birthday, to present his ideas for preserving the studio. (Hanna passed away two years ago.)

Los Angeles City Councilman Tom LaBonge, who represents the area, supports the new development.

The Hollywood Hills West Neighborhood Council is scheduled to discuss the traffic implications of the project with the developer at its meeting tonight, April 23, 2003 at 7:30 pm at Valley View Elementary School at 6921 Woodrow Wilson Drive. HB preservationists and Leib will also be making a presentation at the meeting and at future local government and neighborhood groups.

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