(Editor’s note: My story about last week’s Design Review Board meeting (“TOPA Presents Plan to ‘Refresh’ the Historic Business Block Building in Town’s Center”) generated dozens of responses on Nextdoor Palisades as residents passionately defended the prominent “Pink Building” in the heart of town, officially known as the landmark Business Block Building (built in 1924, two years after Pacific Palisades was founded). Two architects, working on behalf of TOPA, the building’s owner, offered their plan for a makeover of the building that would include painting it white, with black awnings. This concept did not go over well with residents across the community after they read the CTN story and the initial posting and painting by Katie O’Neill on Nextdoor. The story below provides some important historical perspective.)
By BILL BRUNS
Circling the News Adviser
When I served as editor-in-chief of the Palisadian-Post from 1993 to 2013, we periodically wrote about the various grassroots campaigns that helped save the town’s character since its founding.
In June this year, I wrote an article for realtor Michael Edlen’s in-house magazine, PERSPECTIVE Palisades, about five crucial land-use victories since 1972. Here’s one of them:
“Don’t Mall the Palisades!” In 1982, real estate developer Rohit Joshi made a $4.5-million cash offer for the landmark Business Block building—built in 1924 at the intersection of Sunset, Swarthmore and Antioch. He said he intended to raze the Spanish Colonial building to make way for a $22-million, three-story shopping mall with underground parking. But he later admitted he was unprepared for the uproar that ensued, culminating in a mass rally on the Village Green that was organized by Joan Graves. She later said, “We got most of the celebrities in the Palisades organized [including her husband Peter, Ted Knight, Dom DeLuise, Walter Matthau and John Raitt], rented a big stage and closed Swarthmore for our rally. We had bands and singers, and speeches about why it was important to save the building—and we made it on the evening news!”
When Joshi ultimately backed out of the deal, Graves and her supporters convinced TOPA Management to purchase the aging structure in 1983, bring it up to earthquake standards and give it a fresh paint job.
In 1984, the building was declared a City of Los Angeles Historic Cultural Monument and rededicated.
Decades later, the Pink Building remains a thriving centerpiece in the heart of town—diagonally across from Caruso’s Palisades Village, a mall in which the community was denied architectural and design input because the Palisades Design Review Board was forced off the project. Caruso’s black-and-white generic “village” opened in September 2018.