By Aaron Blevins, 12/13/2012
Development would dwarf Hollywood’s tallest buildings
Although opponents to the Millennium Hollywood project requested an extension, the public comment period has ended for the 1 million-square-foot mixed-use development slated for the land surrounding the Capitol Records building.
The project is likely to have hearings before the Los Angeles City Council and the city’s Planning Commission next spring. It currently proposes 492 residential units, 200 luxury hotel rooms, 250,000 square feet of office space, 35,000 square feet of restaurant space, 40,000 square feet of sports club use and 15,000 square feet of retail space. Much of that new space will be housed in two towers that could be 44 and 52 stories tall.
“We have worked hard over the last several years to design a project that is a new Hollywood icon for the 21st century,” Millennium Partners co-founder Philip Aarons said in a press release. “And I believe that the [draft environmental impact report] shows how our project is not just fitting for the community but will fit into its vision for its future. We have spent the last several years discussing our plans with the Hollywood community and we look forward to continuing those conversations over the months ahead.”
However, some neighborhood organizations and residents have their doubts. Patti Negri, president of the Hollywood Dell Civic Association, represents 1,100 households directly north of the project. She is worried about the future of those homes.
Negri said the Hollywood Dell neighborhood only has a few entrances, and the towers would be constructed near Ivar and Argyle avenues, further hampering access to the area. She said this could pose additional problems for first responders who have been dispatched to the neighborhood. Millennium officials, though, have offered the residents access to a shuttle bus.
“It’ll have to be a hover craft,” Negri said.
She said infrastructure is of major concern, as the neighborhood operates on sewers built in the 1920s. The project will bring many more new toilets and showers to an area that has “ancient infrastructure,” Negri said.
“I just see sewers exploding everywhere,” she added.
The association is also concerned Millennium officials have not conducted enough studies to determine how the project will affect traffic and parking, Negri said. She said they have not studied impacts in the Hollywood Hills either.
“We’re not against [the project], we just want a little bit of moderation,” Negri said.
Transparency has been an issue as well. The civic association president said concerned residents were not given ample time to review the draft environmental impact report, and many of their questions went unanswered.
“Everybody’s talking about the growth of Hollywood, but nobody’s talking about the people who live and work there,” Negri said.
Whitley Heights resident Emma Riordan is also concerned with how the project will impact the area. Her major concern is traffic and whether emergency personnel will be able to respond to the area in a timely manner.
“If something happens, if somebody has a heart attack, if we have the big earthquake … it’s kind of scary. It’s just a scary situation,” Riordan said, adding that opponents have been striving to raise money toward an independent traffic study.
She said traffic is already a “nightmare” in Hollywood, and such a large development could have large impacts on the congestion.
Some officials, though, have lauded the project. Maureen Schultz, senior vice president of Capitol Records, said she is supportive of the proposal and the changes that it could bring to the Capitol Records facility.
“We have been talking from the outset of the design process with Millennium/Argent and they have been very receptive to our issues,” she said.
Los Angeles City Councilman Eric Garcetti, 13th District, could not be reached for comment, but his deputy chief of staff, Yusef Robb, said the office has not taken a position on the project.
“We want to see what the actual proposal is going to be, and we’ll take a position,” he said. “As always, our support is contingent on public support.”
Leron Gubler, president and CEO of the Hollywood Chamber of Commerce, said the chamber board voted to endorse the project last month.
“The board see this as the next step of developing urban fabric in Hollywood,” Gubler said, adding that it will bring jobs to the area as well.
He said the chamber understands the concerns that residents in the area have, but people will have plenty of opportunities to voice their grievances. Gubler said density near mass transit is necessary for Hollywood’s future.
“If Los Angeles is going to plan for the future, Hollywood needs to be built where it makes the most sense,” he added.