Last week, we reported that the Pagoda Restaurant at 39th and Broadway was going to be torn down to make way for a Key Bank, and last night the Hollywood Neighborhood Association and Key Bank reps faced off at the HNA’s regular meeting. The Merc was there to record all the heady drama.
Except, there wasn’t much. Key Bank rep Patrick Flanagan and land-use planner Garrett Stephenson from Group Mackenzie were both surprisingly non-diabolical in their presentation, even when they sort of made moot any real emotional debate by saying upfront that the pagoda was a goner. “The goal tonight is to get feedback on the original plans, but not necessarily to discuss the need to keep the building,” Flanagan said.
They noted that the building is in really bad shape from water damage and age, and that because of an extensive remodel in the 80s, any historic value had been lost ("The building has a history, but it is not a historic building," Flanagan said). When asked why the pagoda couldn’t be incorporated into the new design, Stephenson said that because of weight restrictions and retro-fitting requirements, keeping the pagoda as part of the structure of the new building would make “the cost of the building untenable.” With that out there, they looked to get community input on what that new bank should look like, but for many Hollywood residents, it was hard to accept that the building was really a loss.
"I don't see any reason why Key Bank Hollywood can't have a pagoda structure. I don't think it should be off the table. I reject the premise that it is off the table," said one man. Another warned that “one thing you’ll learn about Hollywood is that we have very long memories. You will be the bank that destroyed the Pagoda.”
Eve Weir, a hair stylist and Hollywood native, left the meeting in tears. “The Pagoda is my favorite building in the city. It’s beautiful,” she told the Merc. Earlier in the meeting, Flanagan had mentioned that no one he had spoken to in the past two weeks had eaten there in the past five years, and Weir’s hand had shot up, defiant. “I loved going there. It’s just such a cool building, full of chintzy glamour. I just love it, and I’m so upset. I grew up in Hollywood. I got off the phone with my mom before I came in, and she was going to cry. I’m crying right now.”
Even though the pagoda won’t remain at the corner of 39th and Broadway, Flanagan emphasized that all wasn’t totally lost, as long as logistics and community enthusiasm go hand in hand. “The bank is open to finding a new home for the pagoda structure, but most likely there won’t be a home for it on the property,” said Flanagan. “We don’t even know if we’ll be able to lift it off the roof. If we can lift it off, then there is the opportunity to donate it to the community.”
Craig Stockbridge, chair of the HNA, said their next step will be to get creative and suggest ways that the bank might be able to incorporate the spirit of the pagoda into the new new bank and what the community might be able to do with the pagoda should it be salvageable. Flanagan mentioned that a community wall within the vestibule of the bank will showcase the spirit and history of the community, but compared to the orange-tiled pagoda on the corner, an interior wall seems lame. “It’s not just a Hollywood problem,” one neighbor lamented, “it’s a Northeast problem. I don’t see why we need another bank. We have seven.”
Make that eight.