Hollywood producer Joel Silver has made good on his pledge to buy the historic Venice Post Office on Windward Circle.
Silver – who has produced dozens of blockbusters including the Lethal Weapon franchise, Die Hard and its sequel, The Matrix franchise and both Predator films – has said he wants to preserve the historic New Deal-era mural "Story of Venice," said Amanda Stewart of the Venice Neighborhood Council's Post Office Task during an update Tuesday night at the council's board meeting.
Silver, 60, attended the council's board meeting in April and said he would buy the Venice Post Office and relocate his production companies, Silver Pictures and Dark Castle Entertainment, to the building. Silver is a well known admirer of architect Frank Lloyd Wright and restored the Wright-designed Storer House in Hollywood and the Wright-designed Auldbrass Plantation in South Carolina.
Renovations have started on the building and Silver must follow the U.S. Secretary of the Interior's Standards for Preservation, Seward said. The City of Los Angeles will be acting as enforcer of a covenant in which Silver is obligated to adhere to the federal preservation standards.
The 1939 art deco post office was built during the Great Depression under the federal Works Project Administration and is the last WPA building remaining in downtown Venice. The post office features a mural known as the "Story of Venice" or the "First Thirty Years of Venice's History" and is one of two remaining murals by artist Edward Biberman.
Under Silver's lease agreement, title of the mural remains with the federal government, but a loan agreement will allow Silver to keep it in the same spot, Seward said. The public has access to the mural per the agreement and negotiations were underway to determine the amount of access.
In a related matter, the council's board voted unanimously Tuesday night in favor of a motion prepared by the Coalition to Save the Venie Post Office calling for public access to the mural for the same hours and days it was available when it was a publicly-owned building. The motion called for the foyer to be open Monday through Saturday from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m.
"The new owner does not have the right to lock up and hide this important publicly owned painting; it's owned by the public and we have to be allowed easy access to it," said Mark Ryavec, president of the Venice Stakeholders Association and a coalition member in an email.
Seward lamented the loss of public space in Venice and throughout the country due to unfair financial constraints that she said were placed on the U.S. Postal Service. She said there was a lack of congressional oversight and referenced media reports noting that California U.S. Sen. Dianne Feinstein's husband is the chairman of CB Richard Ellis, which has the contract to sell post offices and recommends which ones should be put on the market.
"It's a shame what's going on and we should try to stop it," Seward said of other post offices nationwide facing a situation similar to the Venice Post Office.
Silver likely will be at the September neighborhood council meeting to outline his plans and answer questions.