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Towers may not be harmonious duet

By Aaron Blevins, 2/07/2013

Residents say buildings may encroach on their quality of life


The developers of the Millennium project, a 1 million-square-foot development that would add two towers to Hollywood, released a fiscal study on Tuesday that showed the project would add more than 1,200 full-time jobs to the area.

The Millennium project is slated to add two large towers to Hollywood that are 44 and 52 stories high, respectively. The project would be 1 million square feet. (Rendering courtesy of Millennium Partners)

According to the study, the project, which proposes two towers that could be 44 and 52 stories tall, would create 5,900 jobs and have a total economic output of $925 million during construction.

It would also offer $4.3 million in recurring net revenue and one-time revenue of $15.5 million to the city of Los Angeles’ General Fund, according to the study. The project could also generate $230 million in recurring economic output when completely developed.

“This is the chance for us to build a new iconic center for Hollywood for the 21st Century. It’s a signature project that announces that Hollywood is truly back,” said Hollywood Chamber of Commerce president and CEO Leron Gubler, who was among a handful of business leaders to praise the project during a press conference on Tuesday.

Proposed by Millennium Partners and Argent Ventures, the project would be split between two sites on Vine Street, south of Yucca Street, and would include the Capitol Records building. It calls for 492 residential units, 200 luxury hotel rooms, 25,000 square feet of office space, 35,000 square feet of restaurant space, 40,000 square feet of sports club use, 15,000 square feet of retail and approximately 2,000 parking spaces.

The press conference was held in a parking lot — one of the proposed sites — directly west of the Capitol Records building. Gubler said such lots are ripe for development, as they allow developers to complete projects without compromising historic structures. The parking lots also “deaden” the foot traffic in the area and “suck the energy and vitality from the area,” he said.

“This is probably the most important undeveloped site in Hollywood,” Gubler added.

Although Angelenos have traditionally been “very leery” of development, the project could allow Hollywood to “show the way” for true, urban development, he said. Gubler said people generally fear that development will lead to additional congestion and crime, but the project could enhance the safety of the neighborhood, and with amenities within close proximity, it could reduce the use of automobiles in Hollywood.

He said he was pleased the project incorporated the nearby Hollywood and Vine Metro station, and was situated within four blocks of three freeway on-ramps. Gubler said the developers understand the context of the site and how it fits in the “urban fabric” of Hollywood.

“In Millennium Partners and Ardent Ventures, we have a team that has the financial wherewithal and the urban development experience necessary to get a high-quality project built, of which we can all be proud,” he added.

Gary Toebben, president and CEO of Los Angeles Area Chamber of Commerce, also praised the proposal, saying that the Millennium project would be beneficial for the area’s tourism.

“Would they rather see a parking lot? Or would they rather see an iconic building that’s going to be constructed here that will symbolize the past, present and future of Hollywood? It will be an exciting project,” he said. “We’re taking advantage here of millions of dollars that have been invested in transit. We’re making our entire community a better place to visit. We’re creating more jobs. This is a great opportunity.”

The mixed-use project encourages transit ridership, offers new housing and retail and will be located along a transit corridor, all of which are components of the kind of projects the city needs, said Mary Leslie, president of the Los Angeles Business Council.

“The project is really a model of the kind of transit-oriented development we need to build here in Los Angeles,” she said.

Gene Hale, chairman of the Greater Los Angeles African American Chamber of Commerce, said the economic stimulus provided by the project would be felt in South L.A. Furthermore, the developers have expressed their intent to provide scholarships in the community and offer contractor jobs to local workers, he said.

“We have a good corporate partner here,” Hale said, adding that stimulating the local economy is a must in today’s business climate. “This is one of the most important projects that we have supported.”

Despite the fiscal study, members of the Hollywood Dell Civic Association, which covers an area directly north of the project, is still concerned with the ramifications of having such a large project close to their homes, president Patti Negri said.

“We’re happy to have them here. Just please, please scale it back. There’s got to be a happy medium,” she said.

Negri said the area already battles significant congestion, which will only be exacerbated by a large development. Increased congestion could be an annoyance, but it could be very concerning for emergency vehicles and first responders, she said.

“We truly will be landlocked,” Negri added.

Additionally, the association is concerned that the sewer infrastructure won’t be able to handle additional users, and the towers could block the view of the area’s iconic skyline, she said.

“We don’t want something that goes higher than the Hollywood Sign,” Negri said.

She suggested that the developers conduct studies that seek to mitigate issues for area residents. Negri said the association had been working with the developers, but stopped after its members weren’t getting direct answers; however, those talks have resumed recently.

“We want to like this project,” Negri added. “We just want it to be livable from both sides. …I really hope we can reach a compromise.”

Los Angeles City Councilman Tom LaBonge, 4th District, who represents the area encompassing the Hollywood Dell Civic Association, said he is very concerned about the height of the project. He said the highest building in Hollywood now is approximately 22 stories.

“Anything over twenty-nine [stories] would be overwhelming and would cast a different feel to historic Hollywood,” LaBonge said. “I think if we had a super high-rise, it would overwhelm the neighborhood.”

He said he is pleased to see economic development in the area, but the developers “should do the right thing.” LaBonge also voiced concern regarding congestion and infrastructure issues, but he is optimistic that a compromise can be reached.

“I think a super architect can figure it out,” he added. “I’m for the jobs, always have been, but I also want to have a balanced approach.”

Philip Aarons, the founding partner of Millennium Partners, said the developers hope to have approvals in the next few months, with construction beginning as early as next year.

The project will be located in Council District 13. Councilman Eric Garcetti was not available for comment, but representatives said he would not support a project that is not supported by the community. According to the office, the environment impact report comment period is ongoing, and nothing has come before the council.



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2 Responses to “Towers may not be harmonious duet”

  1. We Loved Hollywood says:

    Hollywood Hills West Plum Committee, Hollywood Studio District NC, Hollywood United NC PLUM have all rejected this project..
    Millennium Lawyer at an NC meeting told everyone Central Hollywood Board voted half for half against.. but will bring before Board again for another vote. According to Neighborhood Empowerment that is not allowed. A Board Member there works for Millennium..Most support Garcetti..Their Plum voted 3 FOR.. 2 AGAINST, 1 ABSTENTION.
    That is not a YES to Millennium..Guess they will keep voting til they get the outcome they want.
    Garcetti is full of it. He has been unavailable for comment on this issue for years. THIS IS HIS BABY..Millennium is funding his campaign.
    Work with communities? Who is he kidding?He has been SILENT and gone INTO HIDING, over this issue and The Hollywood Community Plan that accommodates these projects.
    At every meeting, Millennium has not budged on scaling anything down.
    Will the Planning Commissioners make them?? The City Council?? When many on City Council have been funded by them? They need to rush this through NOW because many running for City Council are opposed to these projects, and not all the Mayoral candidates are for them either.. And have let it be known..One even saying Garcetti is ‘insane’ giving these unprecedented entitlements to Millennium.They need to get it passed before the current City Council goes and before a possible Mayor gets in who has not been corrupted by Millennium pay offs and won’t support these projects. Millennium is also the Diamond Level Donor to the Hollywood Chamber. Do we believe them that this is the greatest thing to happen to Hollywood? A Chamber that has a PAC set up supporting Garcetti, Millennium’s guy??..The architect of their projects is Bill Roschen, a head of The City Planning Dept. Is that not a conflict of interest???SO MANY have been bought by this company. City Planning even left out the streets Millennium wants to build on, with regards to Height Restrictions, from Garcetti’s other baby..the new Hollywood Community Plan, giving them carte blanche to build whatever they want. People can scream all they want ..one resident at an NC meeting yelled at the Millennium Rep..”WHY HERE???NOBODY WANTS THIS!! The NC voted to reject it..Another resident at another PLUM NC asked Aarons..”Why there?? And why so TALL?? ” he answered..’better to frame the Capitol Records Building” is he kidding? ” They voted to reject it..From all the PHONY Millennium PR would anyone know this??..They have tried to make deals with communities, in vain.They HAVE made deals with the SILENT Garcetti, Villaraigosa, and funded City Council Politicians, including the three member PLUM COMMITTEE and The Hollywood Chamber..SO many have been bought by this company. They have used Aarons sitting as Chair of Hollywood Cap Park to curry favor with communities desperately wanting that park into accepting this..So far, it has not worked.
    Visit People For Livable Communities /SaveHollywood.. a whole org. was formed over this ridiculous development and The Hollywood Community Plan..City planning tried seperating these two controversial issues but they are very much connected. A Millennium Lawyer assured us that this is just the beginning of Millennium projects here. And Aarons said in an interview he is targeting another BLIGHTED AREA next..the whole Wilshire Area.. Wilshire is BLIGHTED?? Really?? First Hollywood, then staking his claim on The ‘Blighted Wilshire Area’ ..His vision, his ‘New Hollywood Landmarks’ his ugly, unlimited height skyscrapers will line the Wilshire Corridor, forever changing that area also. . Be warned! If he gets what he wants now there is no stopping him.
    EVERYONE should show up at these hearings.. No area is safe from his mega developments that will transform our communities into skycraper cities.. Thank Garcetti. He has ignored everyone and sold Hollywood to them and will sell all of L.A. to them.
    Next The Hollywood Sign will be changed to ‘HOLLYWOOD MILLENNIUM’…With his Unlimited Height Skyscrapers lining the base of The Hollywood Hills, and there will be MORE..no one will be able to see it anymore anyway.

  2. Jim Geoghan says:

    Obviously this land on Vine is ripe for change, for something better, something bigger. But the Mellennium project is too big – WAY too big.
    One building is half the height of the Empire State Building.

    New york has 24 subway lines, Penn Station and Grand Central. Hollywood has ONE SUBWAY and some buses. Traffic is a mess already – it will only get worse. Much worse.

    Mellennium can still make “a lotta money” by building something less than 54 stories.

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