Permit reviewers ponder ‘Duke’ statue for La Jolla

Statue would grace the front of forthcoming Duke's steakhouse on Prospect Street

During its July 14 meeting, members of the La Jolla’s Development Permit Review committee (DPR) considered a request by the operator of the forthcoming Duke’s steakhouse on Prospect Street to install a 12-foot-tall statue of Duke Kahanamoku in front of the eatery. The restaurant chain is named after late Olympic surfer, who died in 1968.

The applicant is seeking a neighborhood development permit to encroach into the public right-of-way and install the statute at 1216 Prospect St., site of the former Top of the Cove restaurant. The site has undergone an extensive, modern redesign during the past several years.

Project representative Claude-Anthony Marengo, of Marengo Morton Architects, said the bronze statue would be situated within a planter that covers up a root system that currently lifts the sidewalk, creating a trip hazard. Its highest point — the tip of Duke’s surfboard — would reach 12 feet, Marengo said. A glass railing will front the restaurant along Prospect Street, directly behind the statue, which will be beneath the canopy of an existing ficus tree, he said.

Meeting attendee Ed Comartin questioned whether pranksters and passersby would be tempted to festoon the statue with bras and goofy apparel in a manner similar to how the public frequently decorates the “Cardiff Kook” statue, north of La Jolla along the coast (aka The Magic Carpet Ride).

DPR member Angeles Liera asked if there was another way of covering the tree roots other than placing a statue over them, noting that the existing tree has its own natural form.

“I have some reticence between that kind of competition between the sculpture and the tree,” Liera said, requesting greater detail of how the sculpture will stand within the planter.

Marengo was scheduled to present his plans to the DPR committee again this week. La Jolla Light will report on the outcome of those discussions, as well as plans for the Museum of Contemporary Art’s La Jolla expansion, in the July 30 edition.

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