May 22, 2024 The Best Source of News, Culture, Lifestyle for Culver City, Mar Vista, Del Rey, Palms and West Los Angeles

Barry Building to Close

As we were heading to press, I heard that the Barry Building – where Charlie Munger wanted to build Green Hollow Square – has been identified as having possible “seismic issues.”

As a result, Charlie Munger has informed all the tenants of the Barry Building that they need to be out by year’s end.

I’ve not personally seen any seismic reports, and I have no idea how serious or pro forma they might be – or if they even exist.

I’m also not an architect, but I’m guessing it’s safe to say the Barry Building, built in the 1950s, isn’t up to today’s codes.

I also have no idea if retrofitting the building, which has some historical protections, is a big deal or not.

But I can tell you, from what I’ve heard, this closing of the building is consistent with reports that Charlie was pretty disgusted by how he was treated by opponents back when he was pushing the idea of Green Hollow Square, a retail center proposal he eventually gave up on.

He pretty much washed his hands of the property a few years ago and closing the Barry Building by year’s end certainly makes it official.

During the 2008-2010 timeframe, opponents of Green Hollow Square used fear of added traffic in the area to get Charlie to eventually give up on the project.

Green Hollow Square was going to be built in such a way as to not use the maximum capacity allowed by the city.

The project was also going to include a much bigger-than-required underground parking garage that would have reduced the parking problem on San Vicente.

Charlie thought he was doing something good for the community; opponents obviously didn’t see it that way and eventually wore him out.

There are no current plans anyone knows about to do anything proactive on the property.

Charlie already tore down some of the surrounding buildings that were to become part of the larger retail complex in that location. But homeless people were moving in, so he had the buildings removed.

Now there is a big patch of dirt where the Bonner School and del Mano Art Gallery used to be. Soon there will an abandoned building next door.

Will the place be boarded up and fenced off? Might homeless people move in? Is this all a pretext to finally tear the building down?

Nobody seems to know.

Assuming Charlie really is done with this, any heirs or new owners will have to start over from scratch. It’s possible any new ideas will be forced to go confront a new wave of opposition, which could actually dissuade a new developer from even attempting something new.

I personally was never that crazy about a retail center – it feels like Brentwoodians already have plenty of “stuff” and don’t really need more – but there is an idea that was proposed long ago in this column that people still ask me about, several years later: How about a big retirement/assisted living facility?

Think about it. There is no such place in Brentwood.

As Brentwood residents age and reach that point when it’s time to go into a retirement or assisted living facility, they have no choice but to leave Brentwood and go to some new neighborhood or town, to live among strangers.

This is a shame. San Vicente would be a great place for the oldsters to stroll. If retirees can remain close to home, it will be easier for family and friends to visit.

Plus, once the retirees and the elderly infirm check into the facility, they won’t be driving as much as they did when they were younger. So the traffic impacts in the immediate area would be minimal.

Maybe there would be small buses now and then to take people out on field trips – and an occasional ambulance – but that’s no big deal. It’s the Circle of Life.

Here’s hoping someone figures out a path forward. Having a boarded-up building in the middle of Brentwood for years and years – if that’s what happens – won’t be good for the community.

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