After decades of being the subject of ridicule and scorn, Hollywood redevelopment is finally unfolding and on a grand scale.
Leading the rebirth is TrizecHahn Corp.'s Hollywood & Highland project, a much ballyhooed, $385 million retail and entertainment complex that broke ground last October and is scheduled for completion in 2001.
On its heels is the $70 million Sunset & Vine development being undertaken by Regent Properties Inc., which calls for renovating the fire-ravaged TAV Building and 73-year-old Doolittle Theatre.
Directly across Sunset, Pacific Theatres is developing its $90 million Cinerama Dome Entertainment Center, which will feature entertainment, restaurants and theaters surrounding the historic geodesic structure.
This triumvirate of projects is the linchpin of Hollywood's renaissance.
"It's been a lengthy process. You're seeing years of planning. Now the timing is right, the market is favorable and the leadership is there to make the projects come to fruition," said Anne Marie Gallant, deputy administrator of economic development for the Community Redevelopment Agency.
Despite adoption by the City Council in 1986, the Hollywood Redevelopment Project got off to a sluggish start. Activists stymied efforts with a lawsuit that dragged on for years. Then the recession, followed by the Northridge earthquake, posed further obstacles to progress.
"When I first came here in 1992 and we talked to retailers, they all said the time wasn't right. Nobody wanted to be the first one and make the investment," said Leron Gubler, executive director of the Hollywood Chamber of Commerce.
Yet, with the combined efforts of Mayor Richard Riordan and Councilwoman Jackie Goldberg, vocal opponents on many issues but clearly in agreement on Hollywood, the revitalization began in earnest.
To date, the CRA has agreed to pour about $150 million into Hollywood's key projects, $90 million of which was approved for the Hollywood & Highland project, $26.4 million for the Regent project, and $32.2 million for Pacific Theatres.
Much of the CRA's initial focus was on grass-roots efforts to set the stage for a comeback.
The agency provided $725,000 for the Hollywood Boulevard Security Foot Patrol between La Brea Avenue and Gower Street. To remove visual blight, the agency granted $150,000 for Operation Clean Sweep for graffitti removal.
Following the 1994 Northridge earthquake, the CRA received nearly $8 million from emergency allocations of federal Community Development Block Grant funds to renovate six buildings, including the Mayer Building, the Egyptian Theatre and the Max Factor building.
The agency also administers the Entertainment Industry Loan Program to encourage entertainment businesses to remain and expand their facilities. The program, which provides forgivable, matching loans of up to $250,000, has issued roughly a dozen loans totaling more than $1 million to the Entertainment Industry Development Corp., Sound Deluxe Grundman Mastering and other companies.
But clearly the CRA's major focus in Hollywood has been on the three retail/entertainment projects.
"To make Hollywood sustainable, we need to develop critical mass that's going to create a net wealth for the city," said Gallant. "In an inner city, you have small parcels, but we wanted to develop and anchor the core area with mega-block projects to promote pedestrian traffic."
By far the largest and most important of those "mega-block projects" is TrizecHahn's Hollywood & Highland, which will feature 640,000 square feet of retail stores, restaurants, luxury movie theaters and outdoor activities, as well as an auditorium to host the Academy Awards and a Governor's Ballroom.
"We're making a big statement that gives people confidence. We're digging a hole and people can see it's happening. We're not just talking about it," said David Malmuth, senior vice president of development for TrizecHahn. "People are willing to invest here, now that they see crime has dropped and it's a business-friendly environment."
Just to the southeast, the other two anchor projects are expected to revitalize Sunset Boulevard. Pacific Theatres hopes to break ground on its project in the third quarter and finish by 2000. Its primary focus is on entertainment, with a 12-screen cinema and restaurants.
Regent's tri-level development is designed to feature a 225,000-square-foot complex of about 20 shops and restaurants and a 12-screen theater complex. In addition, just north of the project, Regent plans to install 5,000 square feet of retail space and refurbish the Doolittle Theatre. The project is expected to receive final City Council approval in May and break ground in July.
More activity is on the way, say city officials.
Two major developments in the works are the Hollywood and Vine Capitol Records project, which is aimed at rejuvenating a live theater district, and the Hollywood Hawthorne Parkade, which will involve a rehabilitation of existing buildings.
"Although the life of the plan extends to 2016, I expect it to be done in 24 months. Then, we'll let the market take over and not have so much government intervention," Gallant said.
Certainly, unsubsidized investment in Hollywood by other developers has ensued in the past year.
The CIM Group paid $16.6 million for the Hollywood Galaxy retail project in hopes of turning around the vacant 40,000 square feet of ground-floor retail space. The Westwood-based company also has entered into a partnership with the Eisen Trust to redevelop a 65,000-square-foot retail center at the northeast corner of Cherokee Avenue and Hollywood Boulevard, which will be anchored by a six-screen Laemmle Theatre complex.
Such activity is pushing others to join suit.
After the renovation of the El Capitan Theatre by Pacific Theatres and Buena Vista Pictures Distribution Inc., the Disney Store opened an outlet adjacent to the theater last November and is enjoying brisk sales.
"Sales are on track. We've exceeded our expectations. We know it can only get better with summer and the completion of the projects," said Sondra Haley, spokeswoman for The Disney Store. "It just seemed appropriate to be in Hollywood. There's a real synergy for us to be both a retail and entertainment concept, which is the core of Hollywood's rebirth."
Project Area: Hollywood
Year Established: 1986
Public Spending Cap: $920.5 million
Spent to Date: $150 million
Accomplishments: TrizecHahn's Hollywood & Highland project, Pacific Theatres' Cinerama Dome Entertainment Center and Regent Properties' Sunset & Vine project
For reprint and licensing requests for this article, CLICK HERE.