Today is Hollywood’s 125th birthday and the girl has never looked better. She’s full of business and new ideas, cool people and cool events sprouting everywhere and, naturally, she has a few blemishes she’s trying to keep hidden–but that’s part of her charm! Over the weekend, we happened upon the above flyer, which was sitting on the counter of a few shops on Hollywood Blvd, the neighborhood’s 125 year old spine. The flyer is from the People For Livable Communities, a local group who are protesting the late 2011 decision by Villaraigosa and other community leaders to push Hollywood into a Manhattan like tall building neighborhood. Hollywood is beautiful now and, perhaps with a few pairs of stilettos, she could look better. Nevertheless, PLCLA is protesting the skyscraping because there is much more important things to be done architecturally in Hollywood other than new buildings. Is this the case, though? Let’s look at the facts about all this on our breadwinning mother neighboorhood’s day.
The basis of the problem is that locals are concerned that bringing in bigger buildings and businesses is going to infringe upon the already laid infrastructure and could potentially lead to the demolishing of old buildings. Moreover, it is going to bring a hell of a lot more nightlife activity to an area that is already so close to neighborhoods and already too full of nightlife. On the other end of the spectrum, the city is hoping to allow for more lenient jurisdiction in the area over how land can be used and how the zones work, which has lead to their newly raising how tall buildings can be in areas and what exactly can go in there (all to encourage mass transit travel along Hollywood and Sunset from other parts of the city, dissuading car travel to the ‘hood). Obviously, this is causing much debate and now localized action as the city wants to make Hollywood boom and residents want to keep on keeping on.
From our point of view, which aligns with PLCLA, what is being done to restore and care for the historic buildings that already line much of Hollywood seems to be very small. This specifically has us wondering about buildings like 6777 Hollywood Blvd, which is very obviously very vacant and also very old and in need of much help. Would they rip this building down to replace it with a skyscraper? Are there precautions being set to protect these buildings? Is there any way for them to help the building out, restoring it to something workable or livable? Could it end up like the building that is now an empty lot near the Capitol Records Building? (Along with the lots across from the Pantages and the Old Spaghetti Factory area on Sunset: what could happen there?)
Well, yes. 6777 could end up like them. According to Curbed, things are actually happening in those aforementioned spaces: the Capitol Records neighbors are actually going to be some monsters of buildings that literally will be towering above the rest in the area, quite like the above propaganda. Similarly, and less abrasively, the area near Pantages will be getting a similar treatment. On one hand, this is very exciting!! On the other hand, OH MY. Lots of OH MY. Poor old Hollywood! While the people at PLCLA may be a tad looney in their obstinacy, their cause for concern is definitely justified and rooted in these proposed buildings which could cause tons of traffic congestion (because, duh, people will be driving from suburbs and not taking the subway: have you been to Hollywood on a Saturday night?), “concrete canyons” (building blocking light for many), and lots and lots of construction will be happening for years. These new buildings will be bring lots to the area (businesses and new residential space), which is great for the economy, sure.
But, is it necessary? Ms. Hollywood is an old broad and she looks fine as it is. Actually, she could look better with love being placed in her–not from new, likely-to-be-empty-for-a-while high heels. Adding in tall buildings won’t make the area boom anymore and will make it look silly as, sure, we have tall buildings–but not monsters. It also makes us wonder how well the W is doing, a place that took years to build and is now open to little audience (except people going to Drai’s). Do people live in those condos? What about the new condos on Sunset and Vine: no one is living there, right? The corner of Vine and Selma–what about those condos? What makes you think building a fifty story building of condos a block from it means people will flock to it? Also, building these things so close to the 101 is fucking retarded, excuse the language. The Vine exit will become Highland during Hollywood Bowl season every weekend of the year, should it attract as many people as the city claims.
This all seems like history repeating itself, Hollywood’s Hollywood Blvd and Vine corridor becoming the new Staples Center complex, product of big aloof rich business people (from out of town) trying to get into bed with local government, seducing them with money. The idea of adding tall buildings and more space isn’t going to make Hollywood better and, if anything, is going to be like dropping an A-Bomb in a fragile area, affecting Franklin Village, Thai Town, Little Armenia, Melrose, Mid-City, and West Hollywood with interloping new neighbors. Los Angeles as an organism works so well because it is flat and wide and has little blips of fifteen story or so buildings. Adding in hundreds of stories for new residents is not only going to be an eyesore for the area but will also be a huge artery clogger, should the area really “take off.” It seems like a lose-lose situation and Ms. Hollywood doesn’t deserve that kind of treatment. She’s seen a lot in her 125 years and, although she’s seen tall buildings, I think she’d much rather enjoy a facelift rather than multiple pairs of high heels.