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.
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.