Luscomb Building owner appeals historic designation

City gave designation due to 'castle' design

SAN DIEGO - The owner of a castle-like building designated as historic by a city panel is scheduled Tuesday afternoon to appeal the decision to the San Diego City Council.

The city's Historical Resources Board designated the Luscomb Building at 1797 San Diego Ave. as a historic resource last April, prompting the appeal by the owner, 1769 Las Fuentes LLC. The panel voted 6-4 to impose the designation due to the building's design, according to city documents.

Supporters of the designation say the building is representative of programmatic architecture, which was popular in the 1920s and 1930s. Also known as mimetic or mimic architecture, it often features whimsical buildings designed to look like objects, such as food or animals. The roofline of the Luscomb Building has a castle motif.

City records show that the building might have started off as part of a tourist camp -- which became popular as more people traveled by car. The structure's current use -- if any -- could not be immediately determined.

The structure came to the board's attention when the owner applied for a permit to modify or demolish it. Historic designations provide tax breaks for property owners in exchange for tight restrictions on modifications.

According to the city documents, the owner has challenged findings by Historical Resources Board staff that the building is the only one around with a castle motif, and that the design constitutes programmatic architecture. HRB staff disagrees with the claims and recommended that the City Council reject the appeal.

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