Books

Five years later, owner drops plan to raze Dutton's

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Doug Dutton at the microphone as former mayor Richard Riordan joins in the applause, March 30, 2008. LA Observed photos


Early in the morning of February 25, 2008, I posted an item that I hoped not to ever post. "It is with profound regret and sorrow that Dutton's Brentwood Books must announce that it will be closing...," began the note from Dutton's owner Doug Dutton. He cited declining business and plans by the property's owner, Charles Munger, to develop the land. A jam-packed wake in the Dutton's courtyard in March marked the end of the bookstore, but Munger's development plans ran into opposition from Brentwood neighbors. Now Martha Groves, who has reported on the saga all the way along, reports in the LA Times that Munger has quietly withdrawn the project, Green Hollow Square, which was to include shops, restaurants, offices and underground parking.

Brentwood Community Council Chairwoman Nancy Freedman said Munger's insistence on razing the landmarked structure, known as the Barry Building, to install extensive underground parking and a new retail center raised activists' ire.


"We encouraged him to incorporate the landmark," Freedman said. "[But] Munger did not like the Barry Building and wanted to put parking under. That's where the whole intrigue with the community came in."

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Los Angeles Councilman Mike Bonin, who represents the affluent area, said he opposed demolition of the mid-20th-century structure.

"I told Mr. Munger what I have told anyone who has ever asked me about the project, that I support development of the property with neighborhood-serving retail, and I would welcome a proposal that gives local residents options to shop and dine without increasing traffic or parking woes in the area," he said. "I will not support demolition of a building officially deemed culturally and historically significant, and I encourage development that preserves the building that once housed Dutton's bookstore."

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