Issue: Summer 2023
The Hollywood Partnership Moves Head
The Hollywood Partnership Moves Ahead..
by Nyla Arslanian
These days it is hard to find something in Hollywood where The Hollywood Partnership (The HP) is not involved. You name it and they are there ready and willing to get the job done.
The HP is tasked with overseeing the Hollywood Entertainment Business Improvement District, a large swath throughout the center of Hollywood created at the request of the business community in 1995. Originally running the length of Hollywood Blvd. from La Brea to Gower, it has now expanded to include 80 blocks and more than 500 properties. The organization is governed by a board of directors made up of a select group of property representatives from within the district.
In 2022, the board brought in Kathleen Rawson, a high-powered dynamo who helped establish Santa Monica’s business district as one of the region’s major shopping and visitor centers. To say the least, Rawson hit the ground running.
Funded by assessment, all property owners (including condominiums) in the area contribute to its $8.9 million budget which is allocated by the board to four main goals: Place Management, Place Enhancement, Stakeholder Engagement, and Advocacy and Economic Development.
Recognizing that $8.9 million dollars is nowhere near what Hollywood needs to catch up after years of neglect from the City of Los Angeles, The HP created Hollywood Partnership Community Trust a fundraising affiliate, led by Executive Director, Steven Welliver, designed to strengthen the beautification and vibrancy of the neighborhood by augmenting The HP’s mission through donor contributions, grants, sponsorships, contracts for services, and enterprise programs. Since its inception in 2022, Rawson and Welliver have raised more than $3 million for beautification projects, economic development efforts, and community events.
Leadership is key to any successful endeavor and having a new LA County Supervisor, Mayor and City Councilmember created a degree of uncertainty as elections often do. Not missing a beat, Rawson and her team not only solidified strong relationships, they worked to obtain the strategic partnerships necessary to help affect real change at the city, county and state levels.
Rawson has not only recruited an experienced and motivated staff, but with the commitment of the board, has launched an aggressive plan of action that is already making a difference where it counts—on the streets of Hollywood.
Let’s take a look at some of the key projects that The HP is working on for 2023 and beyond.
Goal 1: Place Management: Establish and Maintain a Consistently High Standard of Cleanliness, Hospitality and Safety.
In our intense urban environment, public safety is first and foremost. In 2022, Rawson secured funding from LA County’s Third District to open The HP Community Dispatch Center (HPCDC) as the headquarters for three teams of ambassadors devoted to cleaning, safety and hospitality. Ambassador teams monitor the district day and night, they empty trash cans, remove waste and graffiti, and pressure-wash sidewalks. They also deal with non-emergency issues, help visitors navigate the district and are available “on demand.” In its first six months of operation the dispatch center responded to more than 9,000 calls for service and ambassadors completed 134K tasks or interactions while out and about in the district. Residents, businesses, and visitors can request assistance by calling or texting 567-HLY-WOOD (459-9663).
The HPCDC also acts as a collaboration hub where HP staff meets monthly with social service partners and a network of local security teams to address issues of homelessness, addiction, poor mental health, and crime.
And thanks to a $250K grant from County Supervisor Lindsay Horvath, the work of the HPCDC will continue in 2024.
Next on the agenda is the establishment of a camera network to curb illegal activity on the street. The HP will work with property owners to establish a system of privately-owned security cameras focused on the public realm and will share footage with the LAPD upon request. Similar programs in San Francisco and Oakland have been successful and provide a model for Hollywood.
Goal 2: Place Enhancement: Enhance and Beautify to Create a Positive and Memorable Experience
Two exciting projects are moving through the planning and implementation process. First, the SkyTracker searchlights at the intersection of Hollywood and Vine St., designed by artist Tom Ruzika, and dark for more than a decade, have been refurbished, and The HP is working with LADWP to reconnect them so they can once again light up the Hollywood sky.
Next, addressing the need for public restrooms. In just 12 months, working with Councilmember Hugo Soto-Martinez, The HP has secured $1 million from the city and $500k from the Assembly Member Rick Zbur to build and operate a restroom and visitor center on Vine St. near Hollywood Blvd. The HP will operate the facility with a restroom concierge and custodial team present during all hours of operation. The anticipated opening is late 2024.
Goal 3: Stakeholder Engagement: Create Meaningful Opportunities to Communicate with Hollywood’s Diverse Community
In addition to generating a strong digital presence with its website, interactive capability, newsletter and social media, The HP wants people to come out and experience Hollywood, so The Partnership has entered the event production realm.
The first Pride Parade took place on Hollywood Blvd. in June 1970. After almost four decades of festivities in West Hollywood, Christopher Street West made the decision to return the parade to its roots in 2022. This provided The Partnership with the perfect opportunity to bring together residents of Hollywood and Angelenos alike to celebrate the thriving LGBTQIA+ community in LA. Raising more than $300K each year for a free street festival after the parade, this year’s festivities included 82 local vendor booths, two entertainment stages with14 performers, a bar garden, food trucks and welcomed a diverse crowd of more than 35,000 people throughout the day.
Goal 4: Advocacy & Economic Development: Become the Local Market Expert to Advance and Advocate for Hollywood’s Economic Interests
In addition to its existing digital Development Map and Quarterly Real Estate Market Reports, The HP recently introduced an innovative Virtual Economic Development Tour which allows users to virtually soar through the streets of Hollywood to get an up-close look at many investment opportunities from major projects to tenant spaces for lease, and renovation of older Hollywood locations.
While the neighborhood is a hotspot for new hotels, a growing culinary scene, and a plethora of live entertainment options, vacant storefronts abound on the Boulevard. This is why The Partnership has taken on the challenge of addressing the decades-long dilemma that has plagued the famed corridor's retail environment. To help, the organization hired MJB Consulting to conduct a comprehensive retail study of the street and the community.
The study’s first phase produced a retail memo highlighting key insights and market conditions surrounding Hollywood Blvd.’s retail history and potential. The challenges include negative perceptions, spot zoning, façade restrictions and legacy landlord disinvestment. At the same time, its strengths lay a growing, high-density residential population, a captive tourist segment and global brand.
Older buildings boast outsized retail footprints that are difficult to fill. As such, there needs to be a place-specific strategy to leverage the most promising opportunities. The study’s second phase will focus on recommending implementation strategies that The HP can use to address these challenges and opportunities. This effort aims to attract a mix of uses to create a more meaningful and thriving neighborhood for everyone. Hollywood—always a work in progress.
As shown by the decades-long success of the Hollywood Farmers Market, and, more recently the LA Pride Village, great shows at The Pantages, Funko Hollywood and Trader Joe’s, give the people what they want, and they will come. Finding the “sweet spot” for visitor as well as community engagement is a challenge. However, as the Hollywood Partnership’s new leadership team and an involved board of directors has demonstrated over the past year, “you ain’t seen nothin’ yet!” *
To learn more about The Hollywood Partnership or to keep up with the latest happenings in the district, visit hollywoodpartnership.com or follow them on social @hollywoodpartnership. DH
*Al Jolson in Warner Bros. first talking picture “The Jazz Singer.”