Jackie Goldberg seems an unlikely champion of Hollywood's revitalization.
When she was elected to the Los Angeles City Council 12 years ago as a political progressive with roots in the Berkeley free speech movement of the 1960s, few saw her as willing to persuade businesses and developers to invest in an area that was reeling from riots, recession and impending subway construction.
But in eight years on the council, Goldberg became one of Hollywood's most forceful advocates, bringing in major projects where her predecessors had failed. The Hollywood & Highland center, the Cinerama Dome makeover and the mixed-use project at Sunset Boulevard and Vine Street are among her legacies.
"I learned early on that a lot of the goals I was pursuing living wage, better health benefits, et cetera all derive from having good quality jobs," she told the Business Journal in 1999. "That's the reason why I started paying attention to economic development and the businesses in my district. You don't kill the goose that lays the golden egg."
Goldberg, now in the state Assembly, was instrumental in getting rid of local slumlords and setting up the Hollywood Business Improvement District, two of the prerequisites needed to convince people to invest in the community.
"Before she came on board, Hollywood was known for two things: crime and grime," said Leron Gubler, president of the Hollywood Chamber of Commerce. "None of the great things that have happened in recent years would have happened if perceptions weren't changed in the mid-1990s."
From her first day in office, one of her priorities was to "fix up Hollywood," she said. She put a huge map on the wall showing red spots where businesses were leaving. And unlike predecessors Peggy Stevenson and Michael Woo, Goldberg chose not to focus first on Hollywood Boulevard.
"We concluded there were three Hollywoods: where people lived, where people went for entertainment and where people worked in the post-production and other film-related industries," she said. "We realized that if we didn't do something about the housing, we would never fix the rest of it."
Only after the Northridge earthquake damaged many of the worst buildings and forced slumlord owners to sell did Goldberg turn her attention to Hollywood Boulevard. She persuaded Grant Parking owner Steve Ullman and other property owners to fork over thousands of dollars each to form the Hollywood BID.
"That was the key, convincing people to invest in their own property," Goldberg said. "Then others began to look at investing in Hollywood."
Goldberg approached David Malmuth, the architect of New York's Times Square revitalization, about doing something "to proclaim to the world that Hollywood's back." Malmuth joined up with TrizecHahn Corp. and proposed the massive Hollywood & Highland project.
Goldberg also persuaded her colleagues on the City Council to pony up $90 million to get the project off the ground. She then cemented the deal by facilitating negotiations between TrizecHahn and the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences to bring the Academy Awards to the Kodak Theatre at Hollywood & Highland.
For TrizecHahn, Hollywood & Highland was a financial disaster. But once it broke ground, momentum picked up for other projects, including the plan to remake the Cinerama Dome. Goldberg also convinced the producers of "The Lion King" to stage their hit show to a newly remodeled Pantages Theatre, which sparked interest in improving Hollywood's east side.
"She displayed the right kind of leadership that brought inspiration and confidence to people," said Kerry Morrision, executive director of the Hollywood Entertainment District.
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