Luscomb Building's historical designation overturned by San Diego City Council
Old Town-area structure designated last April
Last Updated: 73 days ago
SAN DIEGO - The San Diego City Council Tuesday overturned a historic designation for an abandoned building near Old Town, citing staff errors.
When the Historical Resources Board imposed the designation on the Luscomb Building at 1797 San Diego Ave. last April, members were told it was the only one of its kind in San Diego with programmatic architecture in the style of a castle along the roofline, Councilman David Alvarez said.
A report filed for Tuesday's meeting said similar buildings have since been identified in City Heights, and Alvarez said he knows of more in his district along Division Street, which forms the border with National City.
"I do find that we have new information and that there were errors in this designation," Alvarez said.
He also disagreed that the building was an example of programmatic architecture, which is noted for whimsical designs.
According to documents filed by the appellant, Adam Lorell purchased the building in 2010 and plans to move his business, Diamond Connection, inside if he can renovate the interior.
Jim Bartell, who spoke on Lorell's behalf, said the former motel was vacant and gutted, had broken windows and holes punched in walls by vandals.
Lorell's appeal of the designation was upheld on a 6-2 vote. One of the dissenters, council President Todd Gloria, said it would be wrong to "undermine" the board. Councilwoman Sherri Lightner cast the other "no" vote.
Bruce Coons, of the Save Our Heritage Organisation, said the "character defining" castle motif along the roofline was removed without permit.
The hearing on Lorell's appeal was originally scheduled in January, but was postponed to allow the various sides time to reach an agreement. Bartell said they weren't able to strike a deal.
While the designation carries some tax breaks, property owners sometimes appeal because the kinds modifications they can make are restricted. Bartell said the owner wanted to retain his rights to renovate the property and sell it in the future.
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