The building where the group of young skateboarders who helped revolutionize the sport in the 1970s got their start may still continue to be a place for skateboarders and surfers after all.
The structure, at 2001-2011 Main St. in the ìDogtownî area of Santa Monica, now the home of Horizons West Surf Shop and artist studios, once contained the Jeff Ho and Zephyr Surfboard Productions shop.
It was at the Jeff Ho and Zephyr shop that the Zephyr Surf Team, also known as The Z-Boys, was started in the mid-1970s.
The Z-Boys, who applied their aggressive style of surfing to skateboarding, are considered to be pioneers for modern skateboarders.
The history of the Z-Boys and their skateboard revolution has been chronicled in two movies ó Dogtown and Z-Boys and Lords of Dogtown.
The original shop where the team started has since been transformed into Horizons West, but concerns about the storeís future arose late last year, when the property owner presented a proposal to demolish the building and construct apartments.
The proposal caught the attention of members of the community and skateboarding fans, who attended meetings of the Santa Monica Landmarks Commission to express support for preserving the structure that is part of skateboarding history.
While several ideas were suggested by the community and the property owner in the months following the original proposal, the Landmarks Commission had not made a decision on whether or not to designate the building as a city landmark.
Landmarks commission member Roger Genser said the landmark issue has been unique because, while the building itself may not be that important, ìthe things that went on there are important.î
ìI was surprised by the incredible response from the community about the importance of that site,î Genser said.
In deciding whether to approve a structure for landmark designation the commission must consider the following six criteria; whether the structure:
n exemplifies or symbolizes elements of the cultural, social or architectural history of the city;
n has aesthetic or artistic interest or value;
n is identified with important events in history;
n embodies distinguishing architectural characteristics;
n is significant or a representative example of the work of a notable builder or architect; and
n has a unique location or is an established and familiar visual feature of the neighborhood or city.
After community members came out in support of saving the surf shop building and the project architect presented a new proposal intended to please all parties involved, the Landmarks Commission voted Monday, April 9th, to nominate the 2001-2011 Main St. structure for landmark designation.
The commission will consider the structure for landmark approval at the next meeting, scheduled for Monday, May 14th, when a public hearing will be held.
Landmarks Commission chair Nina Fresco said the issue with the surf shop building is ìreally about the cultural phenomenon that took place in Santa Monica,î and the commissioners will need to decide if the building meets the criteria to become a city landmark.
In response to the community support for preserving the shop, Howard Laks, project architect, said he has devised a plan that incorporates the surf shop and also allows for the property ownerís apartment project.
ìThe general consensus by the community was to save the surf shop,î Laks said.
Laks said Juli Doar, the granddaughter of the property owner, plans to build a three-story mixed-use development that is LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) gold-certified. The project would include 14 apartment units and retain the 4,000 square feet of ground-floor retail space in the Horizons building, which would be ìrehabilitated.î
ìHorizons West will be incorporated in some interesting architectural way,î Laks said. ìIt will be preserved in scale and will maintain the character of Main Street.î
Under the architectís proposal, the Main Street building would be divided into ìcontributingî and ìnon-contributingî features. The proposal would tear down the non-contributing features, which include the parking lot and artist studios in the back of the building, and preserve the contributing feature of the Horizons shop in the front, Laks said.
The architect said he expects the new proposal to ìmake it a more interesting project.î
ìThis seems to be the most appropriate way to commemorate the cultural events associated with the skateboard culture,î Laks said.
Randy Wright, who has worked at the Horizons West shop since 1984 and owned the store since 1987, said he is pleased with the community support for his shop, but he noted that the popularity of the ìDogtownî movies is a big part of why people are so interested in the building.
He added that he has been following the efforts of the community and skateboarding fans to try to see that the shop is saved.
ìI think itís kind of neat to have watched it all happen,î Wright said of the effort.
While Wright said he wants to make sure that his shop sticks around, he also acknowledged that ìthe landlord has their rights too.î
Wright is glad to hear of a new plan that incorporates his shop but he admitted he is curious about how it might turn out.
ìIíd like to see how it looks,î Wright said.