Being discovered in Tinseltown

Special to The Times

Fifteen years ago, Hollywood's Yucca Corridor was a magnet for drug dealers, prostitutes and gangs. Now, the former

"crack alley" area around Yucca Street is turning into a hip urban district for young executives and aspiring talents.



Before the 1990s, the Yucca Corridor was notorious for its gang-related shootings and criminal activity. Neighborhood Watch groups named after streets in the area, such as the Ivar Hawks, the Cherokee Condors and the Wilcox Werewolves, installed surveillance cameras on street corners and urged local law enforcement to patrol the neighborhood more often.

And then came the 1994 Northridge earthquake, which damaged and emptied many of the Yucca Corridor's most crime-infested buildings and gave the city an opportunity to redevelop the area into a safer, tourist-friendly place.

The Yucca Corridor's strides toward economic development became apparent when property owners started renovating apartment buildings and shopping centers.


Drawing card

The Yucca Corridor has become a hub for young professionals, artists, musicians and actors, said Merle Singer and Jeffrey Rouze of the Yucca Corridor Coalition of Property Owners and Managers, a community-based organization dedicated to improving the central Hollywood area.

MTA buses, Metro Red Line stations and the 101 Freeway make it a convenient neighborhood for commuting.

The Stella Adler Academy of Acting and Theatres attracts aspiring talents, while Hollywood Boulevard's shops and nearby historical landmarks, such as the Capitol Records Building and Grauman's Chinese Theatre, lure tourists. Boutiques line Yucca Street -- a trendy shopping spot hoping to rival Melrose Avenue. Nightclubs bolster the Yucca Corridor's thriving night life.

Although there are some families, the area draws mostly singles just starting their careers.


Good news, bad news

Residents and property owners say that although the Yucca Corridor has cleaned up its image in recent years, more progress is needed.

"It's going to take some more time," said Milton Sznaider, who moved to the corridor 10 years ago from West Hollywood because the rent was more affordable. His biggest complaint is the noise.

Crime in the Yucca Corridor has decreased in the last five years, according to the Los Angeles Police Department's Hollywood Division.

Homicides are down but the neighborhood still has a relatively high rate of robberies, burglaries, thefts and assaults. Residents and community activists say they walk freely through the Yucca Corridor during the day but do so with more caution after nightfall.

Those who live in apartment buildings without parking lots or garages have to battle for spots on the street.

The neighborhood's proximity to major arteries, such as the 101 Freeway, Franklin Avenue and Hollywood Boulevard, although convenient, make it noisy and congested.


Housing stock

Condominiums are under development, but for now the Yucca Corridor is occupied by renters, said Rose Ware, a Realtor with Prudential California Realty Architectural Collection.

"There's really a little bit of everything," she said, old-fashioned "apartments, contemporary lofts and mixed-use properties with apartments and shops."

Rents vary as much as the housing stock.

Studio apartments in the Yucca Corridor typically rent from $800 to $1,000 or more per month. A one-bedroom apartment with one bathroom costs $1,500 to $3,000 a month, depending on its size, the age of the building and the location.

Some newer complexes are more upscale, such as the Hillview Apartments, which has a fitness center, restaurant and jazz bar.

Designated parking spaces generally cost an additional $60 to $100 per month.

The Hollywood, a 54-unit contemporary condominium complex on Yucca Street, is scheduled to open this summer with prices starting in the high $800,000s.


Report card

The Yucca Corridor is served by the Los Angeles Unified School District. Children from kindergarten through the fifth grade attend Selma Avenue Elementary School, which scored 692 out of a possible 1,000 on the 2006 Academic Performance Index Growth Report. Joseph Le Conte Middle School and Hollywood Senior High School scored 625 and 608, respectively.



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