Jul 30, 2014

Weho Council Begins Process for Werle Building Upgrade

City staff is working on making the second floor ADA compliant, and creating more space for public meetings and storage.

Weho Council Begins Process for Werle Building Upgrade Weho Council Begins Process for Werle Building Upgrade

The West Hollywood City Council unanimously directed staff on Monday to formulate a plan for upgrading the Werle Building's second floor.

The city owns the two-story building located at 625 N. Robertson Blvd. and last year designated it to be used solely to support nonprofit organizations.

The floor will need electrical improvements, an elevator, accessible restrooms, accessible stairs and ramps, and other upgrades that will enable it to accommodate increased public use, according to a city staff report.

"The second floor, which is not compliant with [the Americans with Disabilities Act], has limited public access and use," the report states. "A portion is occupied by the June L. Mazer Lesbian Archives, and another portion has been used for storage and low-use offices for city maintenance staff and the West Hollywood Park and Library Construction Project."

Before the council voted, Councilman John Heilman mentioned his concern about the need to specify eventual uses for the upgraded second floor.

"We might be doing retrofitting of the Werle Building without a clear indication of what we're going to use it for," Heilman said. "I don't want us to be in a position where we're ... going to have to come back later and do some tenant improvements to it based on what the space is actually going to be used for."

Members of lesbian organizations and West Hollywood residents spoke at the council meeting.

"If we didn't have access to that building the Mazer would not exist," archive board member Jeri Deitric said. "We would like to expand the second floor to make it a lesbian space where different organizations can have their activities there."

Marsha Salisbury of the West Hollywood Lesbian Visibility Committee noted that the group's mission statement is "to bring more lesbians to West Hollywood."

"The upstairs space in the Werle Building would be perfect for that," she said.

West Hollywood resident Yola Dore said "I cannot believe that any building in our fine city would be anything but accessible."

Ivy Bottini observed the second floor is "very tight quarters," adding "it is the only place in West Hollywood that serves lesbians."

The council authorized $10,000 to cover the cost of paying an architect to do a "scoping and schematic design" analysis of the impacts and costs associated with the upgrade project, according to the staff report.

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