Parties close to compromise on contentious cottages in La Jolla's WindanSea neighborhood

By Pat Sherman

Architectural preservationists have reached a tentative compromise with the owners of two potentially historic WindanSea cottages, following a year of escalating tensions stemming from the owners’ plan to demolish both Tudor-style cottages and build a modern duplex on the site (337 and 341 Playa del Sur).

Both the La Jolla Historical Society (LJHS) and San Diego-based Save Our Heritage Organisation (SOHO) opposed demolition of the 1930s cottages, which the city’s Development Services Department approved based on a historical analysis commissioned by the owners that found too many of the structures’ original features had been altered for them to be deemed historic.

Preservationists were pushing for the city’s Historical Resources Board to conduct a full historic review.

Project architect Tim Golba told

La Jolla Light

the compromise recently struck between the property owners, the LJHS and SOHO involves preserving the front cottage and adding a rear, second-story with similar period aesthetics to it. The rear cottage (considered to be of a lesser historic value) would be demolished and a three-story, modern structure with rooftop deck built in its place.

“The hope is that there’s minimal impact to the overall postcard view of the front (one-bedroom) cottage,” Golba said, noting that though the compromise is not entirely final, it is off to a “swimmingly well” start. “Everybody’s optimistic that this will become lemonade out of lemons, at least the initial eyes (on it) so far have been very positive.”

The new construction at the rear of the property would require a deviation from the city, while the U.S. Secretary of the Interior would have to approve the addition to the front cottage — particularly if the owners apply to have the cottage designated as historic, which Golba said they are likely to do.

The designation would please preservationists and allow the owners to apply for a Mills Act tax break (granted to the owners of historic properties who agree to maintain historic aspects of a property) — something LJHS Executive Director Heath Fox called a “win-win” scenario.

“It is a pretty ideal outcome,” Fox said, noting that the plan received unanimous support from the preservation committees of both SOHO and the LJHS.

Golba said one of his architects has met with city staff on a preliminary basis, and they seemed supportive of the current plans.

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