A half-billion dollars in development is creeping down vine street

Hollywood's renaissance is not confined to one corner.

While much of the attention is focused on the fall opening of TrizecHahn Development Corp.'s Hollywood & Highland a mixed-use project at its namesake intersection others have been working to anchor the eastern side of the once-tarnished neighborhood.

More than half a billion dollars is being poured into construction and renovation projects along Vine Street between Yucca Street and Fountain Avenue.

"There's actually more happening on the Vine Street corridor than on Hollywood Boulevard itself," said Leron Gubler, president and chief executive of the Hollywood Chamber of Commerce. "It's really going to breathe new life into Vine Street, which was the original heart of Hollywood."

City Planning Director Con Howe said "the key to Hollywood's revitalization is not one or two projects, but the consistent and broader investment that's happening. The Vine Street corridor rehab activity is visible evidence of how the investment is expanding."

Perhaps most illustrative of the activity taking place is the commitment of Capitol Records Inc. on the northern end of the corridor, near Franklin Street and the Hollywood (101) Freeway.

Capitol is in the midst of a $30 million makeover of its historic block at Yucca and Vine. The label is putting $15 million into its landmark Capitol Tower and another $5 million into historic renovation of the Gogerty Building just north of the tower. Heidi Urbina, Capitol's vice president of business development, said the building will have 20,000 square feet of office space and meeting rooms for 80 employees.

That's significant, considering the record label almost skipped town a few years back. Urbina said the neighborhood wasn't attractive and the Capitol Tower is not a very efficient building. But when the city stepped up to help fund the parking component, Capitol matched its commitment.

Urbina said a transformation is afoot. "The neighborhood's getting vastly improved," she said. "It really provides us with a more attractive environment for our artists and employees."

Capitol also is working with Gilmore Associates in the $10 million parking structure to the south of the office tower.

Further deepening its commitment, the company has spent $1.5 million to buy a vacant lot on Argyle Street and is using it for surface parking while pondering its potential. The music company has invested $200,000 in landscaping and bringing the property up to city code, Urbina said.

Nightlife and streetlife

Gilmore has taken on its own project south of the Capitol holdings, developing the Hollywood and Vine mixed-used project. Developer Tom Gilmore said the project's ground floor will house the Hollywood and Vine Diner and Ultralounge, a joint project with Capitol featuring a performance venue for the label's artists.

Cater-corner from Gilmore's project is Meringoff Equities Inc.'s Broadway at Hollywood and Vine, three floors of restaurant/entertainment/retail space in the themed-attraction vein.

Meringoff Managing Partner Rob Langer said, "We want something that's going to bring the glamour back to that corner," he said, referring to Hollywood's heyday when the Broadway Building was the premier shopping center in the city.

One block south of his building is the catalyst for all that's going on in the corridor, Langer said. HW Marketplace LLC, a partnership of Bond Capital LTD and P & A; Erie LLC, bought the Sunset & Vine mixed-use project from Regent Properties after Regent ran into trouble with its proposed theater anchor. The new ownership abandoned the theater and replaced it with 300 apartments.

The apartments will sit atop street-level retail that includes national chains Bed, Bath & Beyond, Cost Plus World Market and Border's Books. The project will cost well more than $100 million, according to Lawrence Bond, chairman of Bond Capital and partner in HW Marketplace.

Bond said the idea of his project is create a pedestrian-driven community.

"To develop a sense of community you want to create a walkstreet. It becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy," Bond said.

Subway stories

That development means the environment along Vine Street is going to be vastly different from what's happening at Hollywood and Highland, according to Steven Tronson, an associate at Ramsey-Schilling Co. Commercial Real Estate Services Inc

TrizecHahn's development and the kitschy shops along Hollywood Boulevard will attract mostly tourists, he said. Vine Street will be more for locals.

"The residential component is going to add a 24-hour feature," Tronson said. "People are going to be walking their dogs. People will be going across the street for a beer.

"I don't think the people will stay in the TrizecHahn mall," Tronson said. "They'll get out and walk. If they get tired, they can take the subway back."

Gubler said the Metropolitan Transportation Authority's planned presence at Argyle and Hollywood played a role in keeping Capitol in Hollywood when the label was considering leaving.

"What we're going to see is the subway's going to be a driving factor behind more residential going in," he said. "It'll make this almost a walking community a livable community."

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