Beloved Silver Lake building demolished without permit

SILVER LAKE (KABC) -- This Streamline Moderne building was demolished without a permit or notice.

Built in 1937, the building on Silver Lake Blvd. belonged to famed Los Angeles engineer Eugene Birnbaum.

For the last 15 years, it served as a retail store called Yolk, selling home goods and children's toys.

Last year the building was sold to antique jewel and gem trader Anup Jogani.

Yolk had been told they could stay in the retail space. But once construction started, they felt it was time to find a new home.

Sarah Dingle has worked at Yolk for the past 4 years."Construction would be going on while we were in hours of operation, so it was just hazardous and frustrating. That's why we ended up moving and I think it was going to happen regardless," said Dingle.

Once Yolk moved to Sunset Blvd, the iconic storefront was demolished which sparked outrage in this close-knit community.

Toby Hemingway is the owner of Hemingway & Sons, a menswear store across the street.

"It's sad to see it go because this is a historic part of the city and of Silver Lake. It's coming up for historical designation this year I believe, the village itself. It represents an era in Los Angeles when there were tramcars coming up and down this street," he said.

Before a developer can demolish a building, they must have an approved permit from the Los Angeles Department of Building and Safety. They also must give the community a 30-day notice.

When I spoke to Jogani, he told me that the roof was in bad shape and needed to come down. He also said that the construction worker made a mistake in tearing down the storefront.

He wants to reassure the neighborhood that he plans on keeping the same 1930's feel.

"I didn't know there needed to be a 30-day notice. We've been working on the building for almost a year. I would have been happy to do that. I didn't authorize the taking down of the studs and roof and the front half of the building. But it is my fault. I own the building so that I'm willing to apologize for but what's coming up is going to be gorgeous," said Jogani.

Jogani has plans to open a lifestyle and jewelry store in that space. He also wants to build a rooftop garden that can be seen from the street.

A petition has been started by the Silver Lake Heritage Trust to rebuild the building exactly the way it was.

"It happens a lot, in terms of these buildings disappearing. It happens so radically and so quickly in this city as it's changing that sometimes we don't take stock of what we care about, what we appreciate, what we love about neighborhoods until they're gone," said Adrian Fine Director of Advocacy for the L.A. Conservancy.

According to the L.A. Department of Building and Safety an 'Order to Comply' will be issued this week to stop all construction until the permits have been approved.

Councilman Mitch O'Farrell gave this statement following the outcry:

"The new owners of 'Yolk' tore down most of the vintage Streamline Moderne structure in blatant disregard of the community, it's history, and in outright ignorance of how important architecture and preservation is in Los Angeles. Their actions were unacceptable, beyond thoughtless, and caught everyone by surprise. Unpermitted remodels, additions, and demolitions unnecessarily expose workers and those near the site to immediate and long term hazards, create inconveniences to residents, and often cause harm to the character of a neighborhood. I will pursue all options available to prevent this type of illegal activity in our communities."
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