Joel Silver Reveals Venice Post Office Restoration Plans

Silver Pictures Rendering - H 2012

Silver Pictures Rendering - H 2012

The project should be complete in about 18 months and will include a $100,000 restoration of a historic Edward Biberman mural.

Producer Joel Silver told a throng of Hollywood players, city officials and journalists on Wednesday afternoon that he expects "to make a difference" in Venice, where his Silver Pictures Entertainment will be housed at the historic former Venice Post Office he purchased from the U.S. Postal Service in September. 

Silver joked in a roughly 10-minute speech at the press conference that he is excited "to be in this world here, where there is a life outside -- sometimes a very colorful life, a very kind of urine-soaked life sometimes. We are excited to start fresh in what I think is going to be an incredibly exciting place." 

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The Matrix producer is planning a renovation of the 1601 Main St. building, which was built in 1939 by the Federal Works Progress Administration. Renovations have begun and are expected to be completed in about 18 months. 

Silver's offices were formerly housed on the Warner Bros. lot, where he worked for many years. THR reported in April that Warner Bros. would not renew the producer's deal with the studio. On Wednesday, Silver joked about his time in Burbank, saying that while he spent 25 years in the city and didn't want to make fun of Burbank, "it was kind of nice to get voted off the island."

The press conference was held inside the Art Deco post office structure and was attended by Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, who spoke briefly and presented Silver with a framed proclamation, and actor Tobey Maguire, who sat among journalists in the second row of seats.

The 24,000-square-foot post office includes Edward Biberman's "Story of Venice" mural, long considered a local landmark. Silver said that he would restore and preserve the artwork at a cost of $100,000; mural restorer Nathan Zakheim began working on it about three weeks ago. 

As part of an agreement with the Venice Neighborhood Council, Silver must follow the U.S. Secretary of the Interior's standards for preservation in his rehab work. Also, as part of the agreement, title of the mural remains with the federal government, and the public must have access to it. While plans are still being considered, Silver suggested that viewing of the mural by the public could be handled via appointment.

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While the purchase price was not disclosed, the U.S. Postal Service had listed the building for sale at $7.5 million. The former post office is situated on a 30,492-square-foot lot. Silver also would not disclose the cost of renovations, which are being handled by Boto Design Architects, saying that in the movie business "we don't like to say what things cost."

Ken Bernstein, manager of the city of Los Angeles' Office of Historic Resources told THR that Silver Pictures' use of the historic property "is a wonderful example of adaptive reuse of a significant structure to become an economic anchor in the Venice community."

Villaraigosa said that Silver Pictures would bring at least 25 jobs to Venice. "It transforms an underutilized asset into a state of the art film production facility." The property will house offices, edit suites and a screening room. 

In June, the Lethal Weapon producer's company signed a five-year domestic distribution deal with Universal Pictures. The Universal deal encompasses 12 movies of various genres across a five-year period, during which the studio will distribute two or three a year.


Twitter: @DanielNMiller

Below: The Edward Biberman mural that is receiving a $100,000 restoration.