Hollywood comeback continues
Denser, taller and less-pricey neighborhoods are ahead for Hollywood under a revitalization plan approved Thursday by the Los Angeles Community Redevelopment Agency.
Agency commissioners voted unanimously to help finance a series of residential and commercial projects that backers say will add much-needed low-income housing and “first-class” office space to the area by 2013.
The five-year development plan will add 404 low- and moderate-income apartments for families that otherwise would be priced out of the housing market. It also provides space for programs that cater to the homeless and to young runaways who often flock to Hollywood Boulevard.
The approval came as some Hollywood residents complained of a looming lack of adequate parking for newcomers and others decried the growing nightclub scene, which has become an important element of the emerging “new” Hollywood.
But the clubs also are helping turn the area into what was described to commissioners as “Alcohollywood” and a growing site of mysterious arson fires.
There was largely praise for the five-year plan, however. During a two-hour public hearing held at one of Hollywood’s clubs, the Music Box, a parade of supporters thanked the agency for its role over the last two decades in aiding the community’s resurgence from half a century of decline.
City Council President Eric Garcetti, who represents a portion of Hollywood, said $2 billion in private investment already has been poured into the area, turning blighted parts of town into showcases.
He cited a $14-million mixed-use development at Hollywood Boulevard and Western Avenue as one of the successes. The CRA contributed $3.7 million to the project, which consists of 60 affordable rental units -- most of which are occupied by what the agency calls “very low-income households.”
The Hollywood and Western corner “has taken away the stigma of affordable housing,” turning what once was an eyesore into one of the city’s “most dynamic” intersections, Garcetti told commissioners.
Low-income projects planned over the next five years include the $7-million Villas at Gower, which will offer 70 “very low-income housing units” along with supportive services for homeless families and what the CRA calls “transitional youths.”
Part of the W hotel complex under construction at Hollywood and Vine Street will by 2010 include 375 rental units, including 74 classified as “affordable to low-income.”
Four historic bungalow courts in Hollywood and 10 in east Hollywood will be rehabilitated. Several other sites labeled by the CRA as “blighted” will be used for 220 single-occupancy units for very-low income residents and for 87 market-rate rentals.
By 2011, an eight-story, glass-sided office structure called the Vine Street Tower is planned at Vine and Selma Avenue. “Blighted conditions addressed by this project include economic stagnation due to a shortage of first-class office space and space for entertainment uses,” a redevelopment agency report states.
Representatives of social services organizations and nonprofit groups that have received assistance from the agency or that are in line to in the future praised the five-year plan. Several said the new projects represent “smart growth” and the dictum of “building up, not out.”
But critics included longtime Hollywood activist John Walsh, who chided the agency. “Welcome to Alcohollywood. The CRA invented it,” he said of what he complained is an over-concentration of nightclubs and alcoholic beverage licenses in the area.
“The CRA’s Hollywood is the unsolved arson capital of the world,” Walsh said, citing recent fires that have destroyed several clubs and a landmark church that a developer had tried to turn into a club.
Longtime Hollywood AIDS clinic operator Miki Jackson worries that not enough planning is being done for future parking needs. She suggested that the redevelopment agency has outlived its usefulness and that its estimated $726.3-million budget for the coming fiscal year might be better used to offset the city’s fiscal deficit.
“There are times when you just don’t make sense any more, and I think the CRA has arrived at that,” Jackson said.
Ziggy Kruse, manager of a shop that was closed when the agency initiated eminent domain proceedings against 30 small businesses to clear the way for the W hotel project in 2006, said she still has not found a new job.
“I’m living proof your plan doesn’t work,” Kruse told commissioners.
The panel did not respond directly. But board member Alejandro Ortiz counseled CRA staff members to pay heed.
“A lot of times the criticism is harsh, but it’s correct. So stay open” minded, Ortiz advised.