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Thursday, Nov 30, 2023

RETAIL–Projects Giving Developer Stake in Hollywood Redux

What Richard Heyman calls the “hardware” of a revived Hollywood Boulevard is starting to take shape, with new retail centers rising or about to and older buildings receiving much-needed facelifts.

Now it’s time for content retail tenants for all these revived properties. And Heyman is providing five separate doses of hip content to the boulevard. A high-end diner, nightclub and retail shop are going into the old Hollywood Equitable building at the northeast corner of Hollywood and Vine.

Farther west, he is developing Pane e Vino Mercato, an Italian restaurant and market. And he is reincarnating a new Schwab’s Pharmacy, which will be a chic drugstore and deli, in TrizecHahn Development Corp.’s massive $567 million Hollywood & Highland development.

Heyman’s five projects were conceived and executed by his Entertainment Venue Development, which specializes in concepts, project development and construction management for restaurant, nightclub and specialty retail facilities. EVD will operate all but the restaurants in house.

“Hopefully, people will wake up and get the negative connotation of Hollywood out of their system. All these projects are first-class venues,” said Heyman, whose company is based in the Hollywood Equitable building.

Heyman’s projects will certainly take the boulevard in a new, hipper direction than the current assortment of T-shirt and souvenir shops and attractions. Hollywood boosters say that’s exactly what’s needed to turn Tinseltown around not a bunch of cookie-cutter chains.

“Richard’s concepts are right on the mark, as far as what’s needed in Hollywood,” said Leron Gubler, executive director of the Hollywood Chamber of Commerce. “Hollywood Boulevard has to be different than Old Pasadena or the Third Street Promenade. To be successful, it has to be a unique street that plays up the history of Hollywood.”

The three venues at Hollywood and Vine are slated to open in October, just in time to serve the multitudes of theater-goers expected to see “The Lion King” at the Pantages Theater next door. Almost 3,000 people per day are expected to attend the show for about two years.

Heyman came up with the concepts for his projects after hooking up with developer Tom Gilmore, who purchased the Art Deco Equitable building late last year and was looking to rehabilitate the property. The Hollywood and Vine Diner, Hollywood Prop Shop and Ultra-Lounge Nightclub will take up the entire ground floor, while Gilmore said he is negotiating leases for the offices on the upper floors.

“I remember when I first came to the corner of Hollywood and Vine and I said, ‘This is it?’ It was a nice corner but there was nothing happening,” said Gilmore, who is probably best known for his ongoing conversion of several historical bank buildings in downtown L.A. into loft apartments.

“(Heyman’s) got the right mix the cool, edgy diner concept and the Ultra-Lounge and retail. It’s a great middle ground between appealing to tourists and being internally focused, so people from the entertainment industry feel comfortable. That’s key to what we’re trying to do, to be broad-based,” Gilmore said.

Hollywood and Vine Diner will be casual but upscale, with a high ceiling, open-display kitchen and a retro feel.

The Ultra-Lounge club will front the Vine side of the building, with an alley-side patio. Heyman describes Ultra-Lounge as a small, live venue that could accommodate up to 500 people and could also be used for album release parties, corporate events and pre-theater parties.

The Hollywood Prop Department will be sandwiched between the club and the diner on the Vine side of the building and will sell memorabilia, collectibles, CDs, books, vintage clothing and accessories.

Farther west, Pane e Vino will sell nonperishable foods such as oils, pasta and sauces, as well as cheese, deli meats and gelato. It will also include a restaurant operated by the owners of the trendy Pane e Vino on Beverly Boulevard.

Schwab’s will offer cutting-edge merchandise, including gift items, fragrances, cosmetics, cigars, candy, fashion magazines and stationery. But it won’t be an exact replica of the legendary drugstore and soda fountain that for years served as a hangout for Hollywood honchos, but closed in 1983.

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