WESTWOOD—On Tuesday, June 18, the Los Angeles City Council voted to declare Tom Bergin’s, an historic-cultural monument despite the owners wishes.
The amendment reads as: “Approve the inclusion of Tom Bergin’s at 840 South Fairfax Avenue in the list of Historic-Cultural Monuments, and clarify that the parking lot is excluded from the designation because it is not a significant character defining feature of the monument.”
The owner of Tom Bergin’s argued that the amendment to make the property a HCM would limit the uses of the structure and would limit the pool of potential buyers. Back in March co-owner Derek Schreck stated that, “The misconception is that if it is nominated the business will magically reopen, and that’s not the case.”
The Irish restaurant-bar officially closed its doors back in 2018 and was a fixture on South Fairfax avenue for nearly 70 years. Tom Bergin’s was the oldest licensed bar in the Los Angeles region.
In a letter submitted by the owners’ lawyer, Benjamin M. Reznik, “…As the now closed Tom Bergin’s business consistently lost money year over year, designation of the business as an HCM would completely undermine the owner’s reasonable investment backed expectations and result in a taking without just compensation.”
On November 1, 2018, the Cultural Heritage Commission voted to support the HCM nomination under consideration. By March 2019, the commission voted unanimously in support of the HCM nomination. An organization called Friends of Tom Bergin’s helped to bring awareness to the potential demolition of the structure and promoted the preservation of the establishment.
The Los Angeles Department of City Planning stated that the building, “exemplifies significant contributions to the broad cultural, economic or social history of the nation, state, city or community,” but should not be considered for its architecture. The applicant for the HCM status, the Los Angeles Conservancy, argued for an architectural design as well.
Jim O’Sullivan, president of the Miracle Mile High Club stated that, “Tom Bergin’s was a safe space before we knew what safes space were. It was a place that everyone could go to.”