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April 28, 2014
Union Station Revival
The bands and balloons will be out this Saturday as America's last great rail station, built in 1939, turns 75, and historic renovation specialist Ray Adamyk's renovation welcomes the public. Your publisher paid a visit.
The big bronze windows (he's pointing to) have been cleaned…
The ticket counter restored…
The seating area and ceilings brought back to original glory...
And Tom the Artisan (one of most expert of 20 colleagues Ray put on the project) is still putting finishing touches on the details before you get there. As for British-born and Canadian-raised Ray, he started his firm, Spectra, 29 years ago, then brought it to LA in the early '90s.
Of course it's not just restoration for its own sake. 60,000 passengers a day use Amtrak, Metrolink, and Metro Rail. The aim of Metro (which bought the building for $75M in 2011) is to accommodate growth to 100,000 and build retail as Downtown and the Olvera Street area become rejuvenated destinations.
We drove with Ray a couple miles away to see another of his recent renovations, the new Ace Hotel, born in 1927 as the United Artists Building.
It's kind of daunting when you're redeveloping a building originally orchestrated by Mary Pickford, Douglas Fairbanks, Charlie Chaplin, and D.W. Griffith.
Original metal grills on the façade were replicated with epoxy resin. The project took eight months and was finished three months ago.
Connecticut-based Greenfield Partners bought the building in 2011 and has made the rooftop pool a social focal point (unlike the Ace in NYC, which purposely attracts many hip non-guests who set up their laptops in the community lobby). Spectra has brightened up many an old building: the Pantages and El Capitan theatres, the Biltmore and Roosevelt Hotels, and varied others from the LA Times building to the Marion Davies House and Catalina Casino in Avalon.
Pretty in Pink
We were on hand at the Roosevelt Hotel Friday, with a luncheon crowd of 300, to see Clarion Partners' Richard Pink (at the podium) with wife Gloria (far right) and sister Beverly (on the other side of Charlie Chaplin), presented by councilman Tom Labonge with the Hollywood Arts Council's first-ever Culinary Arts Award. It's not just Union Station's 75th anniversary, but that of the city's grand old LA hot dog stand on La Brea, too.
To show you the kind of company the Pinks keep, another honoree was Richard Sherman, composer of songs from famous musicals like Mary Poppins, here playing A Spoonful of Sugar Makes the Medicine Go Down. Very impressive, although it is doubtful Richard Sherman could define a cap rate quite like Richard Pink.
We always forget that this ballroom was where the first Academy Awards were held, in 1929. But with Joe Mantegna and Leonard Maltin among the presenters, and Charlie himself standing on stage, the Pinks helped bring it alive again with the glamour of Hollywood. Although it would have been perfect if they'd also catered it.
Speaking of Pink's, another food scene we can't get enough of is Barnyard restaurant in Venice, which we described in a previous issue. Here's chef Jesse Barber Friday night with sous-chef Alan Del Toro. Not shown is the other key ingredient of the restaurant's success: Jesse's wife Celia, who manages to squeeze its many fans in at the always packed house.