By HOWARD FINE
In another sign of Hollywood's ongoing attempt to reinvent itself, the neighborhood's business improvement district recently quadrupled in size after a majority of property owners approved the expansion.
The expanded BID, known as the Hollywood Entertainment District, now includes 18 blocks around Hollywood Boulevard between La Brea Avenue and Gower Street. It comprises the heart of Hollywood's tourist center, including Mann's Chinese Theatre, the future site of TrizecHahn Corp.'s Hollywood & Highland project, the Egyptian Theatre, and the fabled corner of Hollywood and Vine. Most of the stars of the Hollywood Walk of Fame now lie within the BID boundaries.
The district also extends one block north of Hollywood Boulevard to Yucca Street and one block south to Selma Avenue, taking in several apartment complexes and other businesses.
The original BID, which was formed two years ago, extended along a six-block stretch of Hollywood Boulevard between La Brea and Highland avenues. Since that time, the BID has funded security patrols, more frequent street and sidewalk maintenance and stepped-up marketing efforts.
"This expansion builds on a six-block oasis," said Kerry Morrison, executive director of the Hollywood Entertainment District. "A six-block cleanup cannot revitalize Hollywood. Now that this takes the benefits all the way down to Gower Street, we have a real opportunity to change Hollywood's image."
The BID expansion comes at a crucial juncture in the effort to revitalize Hollywood. Just two weeks ago, TrizecHahn broke ground on the Hollywood & Highland project, which will be completed in the fall of 2000. That project will include a theater that will begin hosting the Academy Awards in March 2001, as well as entertainment-themed retail.
Also due to open in coming months are the new Hollywood History Museum and the Max Factor Museum. Other Tinsel Town landmarks, like the Egyptian and El Capitan theaters, are undergoing renovation as well.
L.A. City Councilwoman Jackie Goldberg, who represents Hollywood, said the BID expansion was another step on the road to revitalization.
"For years, everybody thought there would be one big project that would save them," Goldberg said. "What's happening instead is a whole bunch of smaller steps are helping to bring the region back."
The BID expansion went into effect in August, shortly after two-thirds of the district's 242 property owners approved the expansion petition and it was certified by the L.A. City Council. Among those who spearheaded the expansion campaign were the owners of the Pantages Theatre and a number of small-business owners along Hollywood Boulevard and Cahuenga Avenue.
The BID is expected to generate $2.2 million a year through additional assessments levied on the property owners. The funds will be used to expand security patrols (both on foot and by car) and bring more frequent cleaning of streets and sidewalks. Also, the Hollywood Entertainment District plans to step up marketing of the various shops and attractions along Hollywood Boulevard, by advertising in tour guides and reaching out to tour operators.
Not everyone was pleased with the expansion.
About two-dozen property owners along the north side of Yucca Street opposed the expansion, arguing that they would not have received the full benefits of the street maintenance and the security patrols. They rejected an offer of reduced assessments and persuaded the City Council to let them opt out of the BID.
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