Nightmare on Wilton Place: Another historic home lost

| April 29, 2021 | 0 Comments

215 SOUTH WILTON PLACE, as the historic home looked when sold on March 1, 2021.

There is a disturbance in the atmosphere of the leafy community of Wilton Place. A house has been brutally vandalized.

Tragically, it is a familiar story: 215 S. Wilton Pl., a treasured historic home, built in 1907 and designated a Los Angeles Historic-Cultural Monument in 1992, and also within the Wilton Place National Historic District, was sold by its devoted owner to a new buyer who, the seller and her real estate agent believed, also loved the home and only planned to add a bathroom and renovate the kitchen.

Well, the reality turned out to be something different, as concerned neighbors in early April began to see demolition activity removing hardwood floors, mahogany details etc. Further investigation revealed that the majority of the historic interior had been brought down to the 100-year-old studs, causing an irreparable loss of historic fabric, a monument plundered.

AS-SOLD LIVING ROOM of the Historic-Cultural Monument at 215 S. Wilton Pl.

Good steward

As a preservationist, I am always filled with a little bit of dread when I drive through our neighborhoods and see construction dumpsters, porta-potties, or fencing around a newly purchased historic home. While I know that change is always part of the life of any house, especially old ones, and new owners will make their mark, you never know quite what you are going to get. Most work involves kitchens and bathrooms that need updating, rooms that require alteration, and in some cases, additions constructed for the needs of modern living. Purchasers of historic homes, however, tend to buy them for their traditional or unique design, solid construction and fine details. They intend to be good stewards of a historic resource.

DEMOLISHED living room.


There are other purchasers, however, like Reuven Gradon at 361 N. Citrus Ave., who demolished that beautiful home after wantonly lying to the sellers, or developer-flipper Kaya Milalya, who “modernized” 184 S. Hudson Ave. by removing character-defining features and making it ineligible for landmark status. But it takes a special kind of philistine to purchase a designated property in an historic district and then proceed to wreck it so that it cancels the Mills Act contract on the house that has been in place since 1998.

Mills Act contracts significantly reduce the property tax burden on owners of designated properties — to incentivize and underwrite preservation. Breaking the contract through unapproved alterations can lead to the loss of the tax benefit and a 12.5 percent penalty fee on the fair market value of the property, in this case a penalty of nearly $250,000! Talk about cutting off your nose to spite your face.



Another twist in the story is that the new owner of the property is the 19-year-old K-pop singer Samuel Arrendondo, aka Punch of the hip hop duo 1Punch and now known simply as Samuel. Apparently, Mr. Arrendondo wanted the cachet of living in an historic house in an historic district, but not the atmosphere of a historic interior. He and his mother Ms. Kyung Ju Kim, as well as a Mr. Roy Yun, are the addressees of a letter sent by the City of Los Angeles Office of Historic Resources giving 30 days notice to correct the violations and the unauthorized demolitions or face the cancellation of the Mills Act contract. The letter further states that, “In order to bring the Property into compliance and avoid cancellation of the Contract, the pre-demolition condition of the Property shall be restored in conformance with the Secretary of the Interior’s Standards and Guidelines for the Treatment of Historic Properties.” This requires the property owners to secure a team of qualified preservation experts to create a scope of work to accomplish the remediation to be approved by the Office of Historic Resources.

HISTORIC FLOORING was illegally removed throughout the protected Wilton Pl. landmark.

Let’s hope the new owners follow the law and that this nightmare will conclude with a happy ending. Perhaps the moral of the story is not simply caveat emptor (let the buyer beware) because most real estate agents are trained to disclose preservation responsibilities required of their clients, but cave ergo venditor (let the seller beware) because you never know the real plans of your buyer until after the deal is done.

By Brian Curran

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Category: News

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