Issue: Issue Summer 2011

Skyscrapers in Hollywood?


Skyscrapers in Hollywood?

Having lived and worked in Hollywood for over 30 years, I know that I have lost any objectivity about this place.  I love its quirks and foibles, its dichotomy-place or industry.  While many find the allure of celebrity and the nuances of the industry fascinating, my fixation is on the place-its many layers, its past and its present.

I've seen a great deal of change through the years.  After years of decline, not an uncommon occurrence to Main Streets throughout the country, Hollywood turned the corner and a "renaissance" has been declared.   First, the arrival of the subway, then the Oscars returned to the Kodak Theatre at  Hollywood & Highland, and then slowly but surely the mean streets became friendlier and dollars began to flow into new projects.

Hollywood, a center for the performing arts, even in the dark days now also attracted scores of clubs and "new" Hollywood enjoyed its mix of the gritty with the glamour and we became a popular night spot.   Visitors who were never in short supply increased and the boom continued.

But what were we selling, what is our attraction?  Is it the wealth of arts and entertainment, young celebrity clientele, or is it a sense of place, a sense that something special created a place comingling history, architecture, industry, glamour, excitement, a unique cultural phenomenon called Hollywood, a place beautifully situated against a background of the Hills, a crossroads accessible from north, south east or west.

I say that our unique selling proposition is our authenticity.  With our desire to continue the economic development of the past decade, the allure and essence of our community  could be at risk, a possible victim of our success.  Currently a project is being proposed that for skyscrapers exceeding 45 stories.  This community was successful in recommending a downsized Columbia Square project also originally calling for 40 stories.  The newest is being proposed by an eminently qualified developer around Hollywood's most outstanding landmark, the Capitol Records building. 

This is Hollywood, not Century City, or downtown.  Amazingly, until recently, Hollywood Boulevard, which is on the National Register of Historic Places, has changed little since the 1930's.  Surely, we can plan future development that complements  existing landmarks  and also returns the investment.

It may be a challenge, but Hollywood is worth it.  The most successful projects in Los Angeles are those that create a sense of place-Old Pasadena, Santa Monica, Americana in Glendale and The Grove-even L.A. Live.  Does it make sense to take the world's most famous place, ignore its unique character?  We owe it to ourselves and to the millions who visit to protect our asset-the authenticity of the place called Hollywood. DH