Touring The Neighborhood
August 1, 2016
A Starline van pulled up in front of the BID headquarters this week. But no one was selling tours of the movie star homes or promised any celebrity sightings. Instead, six board members from the two boards who manage the Hollywood Entertainment District BID and the Sunset & Vine BID set out to see the nooks and crannies of Hollywood that fall within the boundaries of both Districts.
The two BIDs cover a wide swath of downtown Hollywood, and are virtually linked at the hip at Selma Avenue. Over the next year, considerable thought will be given to the renewal efforts underway for these two BIDs. Should they be renewed as separate BIDs or should they be merged? Should the boundaries change?
The group set out and first toured the western edge of the HED, referred to as the “live-work hub.” This is the section of Hollywood that borders a residential neighborhood and has a distinctly neighborhood feel, despite its proximity to the “tourist zone” between Orange and McCadden.
Next they toured the section currently referred to as “Selma Mainstreet” where there is the excitement of development and a pedestrian experience that is beginning to feel like parts of Brooklyn. At Wilcox and Selma, Grant King, Managing Partner of the Hollywood International Regional Center LLC hopped on the bus and shared news about the soon to be completed Dream Hotel. He also described plans for two more restaurants, under the ownership of the Tao Group, and another hotel.
Brian Folb, Sunset board member representing Paramount Contractors & Developers, found this upbeat news quite compelling. “How they plan to transform this area into a tourist destination with over 700 hotel rooms planned on either side of Selma, and two renowned destination restaurants, is a game changer,” observed Folb.
From Selma the group travelled north on Cahuenga to witness transformation that has occurred on the south of Hollywood Blvd. section, and the potential that exists north of the Boulevard. Travelling east on Yucca, Kerry Morrison pointed out that the BID incorporates both sides of the street, and AMDA Board member Tony Zimbardi pointed out all the student housing that has been procured around the campus, north of Yucca.
At Argyle and Yucca, the Kimpton Hotel, under development, was observed. Information was shared about projects in the pipeline at the SE and SW corners.
The last section to be viewed in the Hollywood BID was the “Gateway East” section, extending from Gower to the 101 Freeway.
The travelers entered the Sunset BID via Bronson, and ventured down toward Van Ness to see where Hudson Pacific Properties’ beautiful Icon building is nearing completion. Circumnavigating the big block that Sunset-Bronson Studios is located on allowed the group to appreciate the size of some of the large studio-owned parcels in the Sunset BID.
Along Sunset Boulevard, heading west, evidence of the development boom was quite exciting to see. Considering what did not exist at the time the Sunset BID was formed in 2007 (Emerson College, Columbia Square, and others) this section of Sunset Blvd. has turned into a more vibrant live/work/study sub-district.
Driving south on Vine Street, the BID tourists were able to view some of the challenges that lie ahead to create a more pedestrian friendly neighborhood. Plans are underway to rebuild the St. John Armenian Church and Kilroy’s Academy Square project will help to transform the street. This is a stretch of the SVBID that has great potential as the southern gateway to Hollywood.
Finally, the group headed west on Sunset Boulevard to look at the line of demarcation between the BID (Cassil Place). West of Cassil, extending to Highland, represents an area under consideration for inclusion into the BID (either Sunset or Hollywood) in the new term. It was noted that the sidewalks were dirty and weeds and trash were evident, documenting the difference between an area which is being cared for and one that is left to its own devices.
After the tour, the group repaired to Fabiolus to debrief and enjoy lunch. Mark Stephenson, Hollywood board member representing Hollywood United Methodist church said, “the tour provided clarity about security issues and parts of the BID which need more development and TLC.”
Fred Rosenthal, Sunset board member representing Ametron, was glad he took the time to join the tour. “I am truly amazed at the amount of positive development that is occurring Hollywood – from hotels, apartments and office complexes.”
Kerry Morrison is executive director of the Hollywood Property Owners Alliance. She serves as a Mayoral appointee to the Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority (LAHSA) and blogs at www.onlyinhollywood.org.