Future of Eagle Rock’s Pillarhenge remains uncertain

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Pilllarhenge, located alongside Colorado Boulevard in Eagle Rock, Los Angeles. Monday, Feb. 17, 2020. Sarah Hofmann/The Occidental

An undeveloped plot along Colorado Boulevard has been a longtime point of contention for community members and real estate developers. The unfinished foundations, broken fencing and row of concrete pillars — from which the site gained its name — are reminders of an intended apartment and commercial complex that has not been completed. The site is considered “unstable” and “unsafe” by many locals, who would like to see a change.

Pillarhenge, or 1332 Colorado Blvd., was listed for sale last month for $3.2 million by CBRE, a real estate and investment firm. According to resident Kevin Grace, the property has changed hands in recent years, though no significant construction progress has been made. Grace said the lack of progress is due to difficulties with the property itself, including getting approval for plans, the ground’s instability and the amount of surrounding traffic. According to the Department of City Planning’s project analysis, the site sits just 538 feet away from a 134 freeway off-ramp.

“It’s really a rough spot for any of this,” Grace said. “It’s like a bad dream.”

But community members hope change will come. Grace took interest in the property’s future years ago, and in 2015 helped found the Friends of Pillarhenge Park Facebook group, which has over 800 members as of March 2020.

“That’s where the park idea came from,” Grace said. “It never really was pushed beyond just a concept. The reality was, the neighborhood just wanted to see something happen.”

The abandoned construction project at Pillarhenge in Eagle Rock, Los Angeles. Monday, Feb. 17, 2020. Sarah Hofmann//The Occidental

According to a 2015 Curbed LA article, the group’s original goal was demolishing the unfinished building project, and their persistence gained the attention of city officials. However, the structure stayed.

The property owner’s original plan, according to the report, was to construct a large, multi-use complex including apartments and commercial space. The project analysis states the building would be four stories, or 82 feet, in height, consisting of 3,671 square feet of commercial floor area. The complex would also include 53 parking spaces, 33 bicycle parking spaces and six rooftop decks.

Vickie Junger, who passes Pillarhenge on her commute to and from work, said she noticed the property has recently been graffitied again. Junger said she also had concerns about increased traffic.

“It’s a hard intersection to get across, even to make a left, let alone a right,” Junger said. “Having more homes there is just nuts.”

The building design’s size and appearance earned it the nickname “The Love Boat,” after the 1980s television show set on a cruise ship. Grace said some felt the proposal was egregious considering the location and its proximity to private residences. In 2017, the Eagle Rock Neighborhood Council (ERNC) voted to recommend their approval, but currently, only a foundation is in place.

Michael Sweeney, ENRC’s Subdistrict 2 director, said he believes the applicant or their architect may have met with the building department earlier this month, based on permit records on the Los Angeles Department of Building and Safety’s website.

The sale listing’s marketing description further describes the property as a multi-purpose, six-story apartment building with 31 units, a roof deck and parking. However, the absence of a structure suggests that construction may continue, despite dissent among Eagle Rock residents.

Ed Matevosian, the contact for the sale listing, has not responded to requests for comment.

A disintegrating bird sculpture, which sits atop one of the site’s pillars, is visible from Colorado Boulevard and has also been a topic of discussion on the Facebook group. According to Grace, the sculpture appeared about five years ago. He said the crying bird was meant to be a testament to residents’ frustration about overambitious construction plans that were designed to maximize developers’ profits.

“Few know how it got there,” Grace said. “It was this baby, crying bird and it was symbolic, the artist’s representation for the whole process: its greed, its questionable local politics. The word ‘grease’ — I don’t want to sound old and jaded, but that’s the word that’s used — you grease the local building commission, and you get things as developers.”

Though Grace, who grew up in Eagle Rock, said that in many ways the area has been changing for the better, he would rather see Pillarhenge become a green space than a commercial property.

“We all pride ourselves on the neighborhood,” Grace said. “It’s a little town in a big city, and it’s always felt that way — still does.”