Before it leaves Dailynews.com forever, don’t miss the story that recounts the fate of the old Van Nuys Library — the 1926 Deco/Spanish/Colonial mixed breed building that, unfortunately, is leaving the public domain for that of a new owner who’s got a little money. Since, for reasons that don’t hold water, stories only last two weeks on Dailynews.com, here it is:
Auction of Van Nuys Library is one for the books
BY KERRY CAVANAUGH, Staff Writer
LA Daily News
Article Last Updated:10/01/2007 10:46:09 PM PDT
The historic Van Nuys Library fared well on the auction block Monday as a longtime admirer doled out $1.52 million to become the building’s new owner.
Winning bidder Tony Nasr with NTR Consultants said he’s admired the 1926 Spanish Colonial Revival-style building for more than 20 years and used to frequent the building for business when the Fire Department used it as an office.
“I was in love,” Nasr said after placing the winning bid during an auction at City Hall.
“I studied in Greece and I love the history of the buildings. I respect historic things. I want to keep the building as it is.”
Nasr – who paid more than a half-million dollars above the library’s appraised value of $950,000 – said he plans to restore the building and use it as an office.
The auction capped several weeks of controversy as some San Fernando Valley groups tried to persuade the city to retain ownership and let a local nonprofit use the building as a public space.
The one-story masonry building at 14553 Sylvan St. is on the National Register of Historic Places. It was designed by Allison and Allison, which built many public buildings – including Royce Hall at the University of California, Los Angeles.
The building was among the Valley’s first libraries but was vacated in 1964, when the library moved to a more modern home in the Civic Center complex.
The Fire Department used the building as an office until 2005, and it’s been vacant and surrounded by a chain-link fence since.
The city decided to auction the historic building to expand library services in the area and, perhaps, build a new, larger library if the city can raise additional money, officials said.
Said Reginald Jones-Sawyer, director of real estate for the Department of General Services: “$1.5 million, that’s a lot of books.”
The money from the sale will be used for libraries in Council District 6, which includes Van Nuys, Arleta and Sun Valley.
“The proceeds of this sale will give the other libraries in the Valley the resources necessary to better serve our families,” said Councilman Tony C rdenas, who represents the area.
“If we had not sold this facility, we would have denied these families a vital funding opportunity and we would have risked burdening the taxpayers with hefty costs.”
Some in the community noted that the library’s final sales price was higher than they had expected.
“That’s certainly higher than I would have been able to bid,” said Sara Fisk, president of the New Valley Symphony Orchestra.
Fisk had collected about $500,000 in pledges toward buying the building and is still hoping to find a home for the orchestra.
“I’m so sorry,” Fisk said. “We already have a glut of office space in Van Nuys. It had the feel that it should have been an arts center,” she said.
Bidding on the library started at $950,000. Although the building has been modified over the years and the interior looks more sterile than the original version, bidders quickly pushed the price up to $1.52 million in the fast-paced auction.
Susan Kudo-Leeds, who owns Leeds Investment and Management with Ben Leeds, was hoping to buy the library and restore it to its former glory.
“It’s stately and old,” she said. “And it just needs a little help.”
Copyright ©2007 Los Angeles Newspaper Group.