Will a Lawsuit Stop Amoeba Music from Becoming a Massive Apartment Building?

The AIDS Healthcare Foundation has also nominated the 20-year-old building for historic-cultural status

Back in June, Los Angeles officials approved plans that will transform the site of Hollywood’s Amoeba Music into a massive, 26-story apartment and commercial complex, but anti-gentrification forces are suing to keep that from happening.

The AIDS Healthcare Foundation and the Coalition to Preserve L.A. filed a lawsuit claiming the building is a “cultural resource” that should be preserved. They also jointly filed an application to nominate certain elements of the building for historic-cultural monument status, namely its “murals, street art, and neon art,” as well as its “association with Sir Paul McCartney as a historic personage.” (The former Beatle played a free in-store concert at the store in 2007.)

Despite an L.A. Times headline referring to the record store’s “displacement,” Amoeba Music’s co-founders Dave Prinz and Marc Weinstein sold the building to developers in 2015 for $34 million. Since that time, they’ve assured uneasy customers that they’re moving, not closing, and are actively looking for a new space in the area. Last year, they also applied for a permit to function as a marijuana dispensary.

Michael Weinstein’s AIDS Healthcare Foundation has drawn criticism for this and other recent attempts to slow development in Hollywood, including Measure S, which failed miserably at the polls. In this case, critics have been quick to point out that the Amoeba building at the corner of Sunset and Cahuenga is fewer than 20 years old; having pieces of its exterior officially declared “historic” feels like a stretch.

But some housing advocates have defended the move as a “cudgel” to stymie gentrification in an area that’s seen its demographics change over the course of the past two decades. The foundation has adjusted its mission in recent years to include, it says, ensuring that people with AIDS and HIV can afford to live in Los Angeles. The 26-story apartment tower is required to have some affordable units, but relatively few—of the 200 apartments planned, just ten would be for “very low-income” tenants.

Cliff Goldstein, managing partner of GPI, the development firm behind the project, defended the plan, saying, “It is a project that we’re proud of. It’s new housing that is near transit. No housing is being taken away … And not only is housing badly needed in the city, this project provides some additional benefits in the sustainability area.”

A representative for City Attorney Mike Feuer said his office will review the complaint and “will have no further comment at this time.”

RELATED: Amoeba Music Is Ready to Relocate–and Apply for a Marijuana Permit

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