Gutting or greening the cat? Preservationists meow about the new Felix

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IMG_7315Felix the cat has been gutted–or is it greened? It depends on who you ask.

The 1956 neon sign at the corner of Figueroa and Jefferson downtown is hard to miss. And it’s expensive to light: the folks at the Chevrolet dealership that hosts the giant cat say it was costing upwards of 12 grand a month to illuminate. Replacing the neon tubes with LED, they say, makes Felix greener, and cheaper to keep up.

But the new look has got the backs up of preservationists like Kim Cooper.

Two Felixes: Founder Winslow, and the fabled cartoon (The original image is no longer available, please contact KCRW if you need access to the original image.)

Cooper, with her husband Richard Schave, runs a tour company in LA and they are encyclopedic in their knowledge of LA history. They’re disappointed that the city didn’t landmark the sign, which would have made it impossible for Felix Chevrolet to make the switch. And they say the new LED Felix isn’t as bright–and that the lights go out, making for a sloppy and burnt-out cat. They’ve collected 500 signatures in support of their request to the owners of Felix to please restore the neon.

A spokesman for Felix Chevrolet says the sign has never been brighter, and, while he respects the right of Cooper et al to protest, “They must have a lot of time on their hands. We think Felix looks great.”

Here’s my talk with Cooper at the scene. Drive by at night and tell us what you think: