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  #41  
Old Posted Jun 14, 2005, 12:03 AM
citywatch citywatch is offline
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This isn't about Hollywood per se, but the Miracle Mile hood is sort of like the southern flank of Hollywood, & so it & hoods farther north, closer to Hollywood Blvd, go hand in hand.

The last few sentences should be interesting to ppl who are following talk about extending the Red Line through mid Wilshire, & news on how inflation in the cost of devlpt locally & worldwide is slowing down timetables & proposals:


LA Business Journal, June 13, 2005

Transformation of Miracle Mile

By ANDY FIXMER 

L.A.’s Miracle Mile is attracting several large-scale projects that could reshape the corridor of museums and office towers. The city of Los Angeles has approved six Miracle Mile projects that would add 757 units of housing and more than 100,000 square feet for ground-floor shops and restaurants.

“It’s just ripe for development,” said Renee Weitzer, chief planning deputy for Councilman Tom LaBonge, whose 4th Council District includes the Miracle Mile. “There hasn’t been any good retail there and there’s a lack of restaurants, but the people living there really want those things.”

Some residents, however, are becoming uneasy about the impact that the development could have. Just to the north is Third Street, where the confluence of the Grove shopping center and several residential developments has added to the area’s congestion. There are also environmental concerns, given the area’s large deposits of methane gas. While some urban planners salute the trend among developers to move inward instead of sticking to the outlying suburbs, there is general concern among homeowners groups and others about the inevitable effect of the additional population. The development activity has also spurred new design guidelines.

“There is no elasticity,” said Bart Reed, executive director of the Transit Coalition, which advocates building more subway and light rail lines. “There is no more room on these streets.”

Rickie Avrutin, who lives in the same house on Curson Avenue where she grew up, worries about the high cost of rents, given the lack of affordable housing in the neighborhood. And she’s also concerned about the projects’ impact on the area. “The street I live on is a narrow street that is now used as a thoroughfare, even with the speed bumps.” Said Avrutin, a neighborhood council member. “It is bumper to bumper during rush hour.”

Weitzer downplays the potential for problems. “As these things come online, people are getting anxious about the added traffic,” she said. “Wilshire is still a good street. You know, there’s going to be traffic in this city and we try to mitigate it whenever we can.”

Running between La Brea and Fairfax avenues, Miracle Mile is home to the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, the La Brea Tar Pits and a bustling office district serving as a base for numerous media companies. But the strip offers few amenities for residents in the neighborhoods to the north and south. Office workers clog the artery during the day but leave it relatively empty at night. City planners have pushed for more housing, especially projects with shops and restaurants on the ground floor. That’s where planners believe the added traffic and density can be more easily absorbed.

“We’ve been looking for a site close to the Miracle Mile for a long time,” said Larry Scott, senior vice president in the Newport Beach office of AvalonBay Communities Inc., which is developing a six-story, 123-unit building with 10,000 square feet of retail. “It has very desirable characteristics.”

AvalonBay intends to rent apartments for about $1,500 a month for a one-bedroom to $3,000 for a three-bedroom unit. “We think those are very attainable rates for that area,” he said. “There’s a lot of demand from people who want to live there.”

Retail rise and fall

The Miracle Mile was developed in the 1920s as Wilshire Boulevard was being extended from downtown to the UCLA campus in Westwood Village and on to the ocean. As the rise of the automobile began to decentralize business in Los Angeles, downtown realtor A.W. Ross developed the commercial strip on the site of a vast oil field. By the end of World War II, Ross’s development attracted upscale department stores, including Desmonds, Broadway, Phelps-Terkel and May Co. But the district began to lose its luster as new areas further west began to open.

“It was what they called a red-line district,” said developer Jerry Snyder, who bought a number of properties in the area in the 1980s. “Lenders wouldn’t lend there and people were moving out.”

Still, Snyder thought the area’s central location could bring people back. He revamped the Museum Square building, home to the Screen Actors Guild, and across the street, built the 1 million-square-foot Wilshire Courtyard buildings, where the Los Angeles Business Journal is located. Snyder also bought and renovated the former CalFed tower at Wilshire Boulevard and Masselin Avenue, which he sold earlier this year to Arden Realty Inc. for about $93 million after signing a large lease to Viacom Inc. that brought the building to nearly full occupancy.

Starting at the intersection of Wilshire Boulevard and Highland Avenue and moving west, some of the large projects under way include:

• Chandler Partners has nearly completed construction on a two-building, 104-unit apartment complex at Wilshire Boulevard and Detroit Street that includes an existing ground-floor store in its design.

• Legacy Partners last month received approval to build a 197-unit condo that includes nearly 34,000 square feet of ground floor retail. The developer could begin construction this summer, which first requires razing the site – a former Office Depot store.

• Publicly traded apartment developer BRE Inc. has approvals for a 288-unit, six-story building on a city block bounded by Wilshire Boulevard, Eighth Street, Hauser Boulevard and Ridgeley Drive.

• J.H. Snyder Co. is building a one-story replacement building for Office Depot at the northeast corner of Wilshire Boulevard and Masselin Avenue.

• Developer David Schwartzman has approvals to convert a small office building at Wilshire Boulevard and Ogden Drive into 45 apartments, though it’s unclear if he will proceed or convert the project to for-sale units.

Construction can be long and costly because of the high water table and deposits of methane gas and crude oil. Developers have to build extra-thick reinforced foundations to withstand pressure from the water table. They also have to install special methane gas venting systems. The gas is filtered and then siphoned through a vent in the roof of the building. “It’s not like an oil refinery where you have a constantly burning flame that burns off the gas,” said Scott, the AvalonBay developer, who said the building’s residents wouldn’t notice the methane being vented from underneath the building. “You won’t smell or see it.”

Still, as AvalonBay was digging out the site for the building’s foundation and underground parking, the developer had to pump out ground water. The water was laced with sulfur, and when it mixed with the air released a rotten smell. Many Miracle Mile office buildings have to regularly pump oil out their elevator bays and underground garages. The weight of the buildings often pushes oil to the surface.

“It’s just one of the quirks,” Snyder said. “Every now and then you have to bring in someone to pump out the tar.”

Those conditions can lead to budget overruns. Even Snyder is having trouble with his Office Depot development, where the cost of construction has doubled to $7 million.
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  #42  
Old Posted Jun 14, 2005, 1:23 AM
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^ I wonder if LA is the only city in the world that seems to let "little" obstacles get in the way of development.

I mean, all I hear is "Let's stop development because of the potential traffic increases!" Well, how about something a little smarter fuckers? How about SMART GROWTH? How about continuing with development but adding mass transit to the picture? Where's the demand for that?

So there are some methane gas pockets? Did obstacles like bedrock stop NYC from building their subway? Did an ocean stop Hong Kong from building the world's most advanced airport? Did England and France give a damn that an channel separated them?

We here in LA had better start demanding the best. I forget where I read it, but some pundit stated that LA used to be a city with endless bounds and great ambitions, now we're a mediocre society that gets excited over small "achievements." The city is only as good as its people. That's why I'm SOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO glad AV is our mayor because AT LEAST he's been TRYING to live a little larger than people who say "Oh, it can't be done because of this or that." To those I say "SHUT THE FUCK UP!!"
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  #43  
Old Posted Jun 14, 2005, 2:35 AM
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In the same issue of the LA Business Journal, there was an article about architect firms switching from designing office buildings to residential buildings, because of the change in demand for the two.

Anyway, it spotlighted the firm that designed the MGM Tower, Fox, and SunAmerica buildings in Century City. Basically, the guy who designed those has been hired to design the Nederlander development at Hollywood/Vine -- you know, the development across the street from the W Hotel development and next to the Pantages Theatre.

They asked him for a description of the plans, and he said it was too early, but that he had a lot of ideas. He seemed excited about it.

He's also designing 2 (or 3?) residential towers in Century City, near the MGM Tower. That project was further along, and the reporter saw a big model of the project in the architect's office, noting that the towers were 4 feet tall in the model.

I read this at work (free newspapers!), so I don't have the article...
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  #44  
Old Posted Jun 14, 2005, 3:02 AM
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If the people care so damn much about the traffic then they should be living anywhere near wilshire in the first place. I dont even know how they would be able to notice an increase, the street is always going to be like that and they will have to adapt or move on out.
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  #45  
Old Posted Jun 14, 2005, 11:01 AM
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The problem isn't just them. They have a right to be concerned about their quality of life, which like most angelinos has been eroded by congestion. Many of these guys have seen wilshire grow from a suburban street into an urban thoroughfare. They aren't urban planners and should'nt be expected to be. The problem of our inability to build rail stems from their attitudes, attitudes which in turn ultimately stem from their built environment.

we're witnessing a failure of american democracy. It's human nature to shoot ourselves in the foot because frankly, individuals can't know what's best for society. LA's homeowners associations and the free market that led to sprawl is testament to this.

Last edited by edluva; Jun 14, 2005 at 11:13 AM.
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  #46  
Old Posted Jun 14, 2005, 4:25 PM
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DJM had a good point.

Then edluva came with an even better synopsis.

You guys made my day just knowing other people are that intelligent.
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  #47  
Old Posted Jun 14, 2005, 7:29 PM
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Even if we build rail, I dont see that making the traffic less of a problem on that street. It seems inevitable that the street will only get worse with time and a subway under it will slow down the problem but not stop it. We are a car culture.
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  #48  
Old Posted Jun 14, 2005, 7:38 PM
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Obviously, the only way LA has to grow is UP. There are several options that we can use to accomodate the growth:

1) We can build more freeways at a cost of tens of billions of dollars. These freeways will do nothing to lure us out of our cars, will increase pollution, and eventually will fill up with more of the aforementioned cars. Neighborhoods will be destroyed and divided.

2) We can do nothing at all. We've seen years of doing too little and doing nothing. We've gone as far as we can with this. "If you don't build it, they won't come" obviously hasn't been the case with LA. We didn't build "it" [or we built very little of "it" --infrastructure, that is] and they still came. Homes are unaffordable, traffic is horrible, quality of life is down the toilet.

3) We can put a moratorium on growth. High cost of housing, overcrowded conditions, economic stagnation.

4) We can build more mass transit. The only way to get people out of their cars is to build more subways, light rail, and commuter rail. Each individual project as a single entity may not be the all-encompassing solution to the problem of traffic, but taken as part of the whole, it puts a significant dent in the problem. Every mile of rail laid adds exponentially to the trips taken on transit. It helps make rail travel more convenient for people along the route. A subway extension along Wilshire will not only be useful for those that commute to Wilshire, but it connects that region with the rest of the Metro Rail system. Someone living or working there can now travel to/from Long Beach, Pasadena, East LA, Woodland Hills, Norwalk, Hollywood. This is the only real way to accomodate the growth that LA will experience over the next couple decades.
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  #49  
Old Posted Jun 14, 2005, 9:27 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DJM19
Even if we build rail, I dont see that making the traffic less of a problem on that street. It seems inevitable that the street will only get worse with time and a subway under it will slow down the problem but not stop it. We are a car culture.

It isn't about solving traffic DMJ. It's about providing an ALTERNATIVE to the car. Do you think the subway has solved the traffic problems in Manhattan? No. But people can still get around easily with the subway, which is what LA needs.
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  #50  
Old Posted Jun 15, 2005, 1:54 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by LosAngelesBeauty
Quote:
Originally Posted by DJM19
Even if we build rail, I dont see that making the traffic less of a problem on that street. It seems inevitable that the street will only get worse with time and a subway under it will slow down the problem but not stop it. We are a car culture.

It isn't about solving traffic DMJ. It's about providing an ALTERNATIVE to the car. Do you think the subway has solved the traffic problems in Manhattan? No. But people can still get around easily with the subway, which is what LA needs.
which is exactly why I hate these nimbys. They complain about new development because of traffic and then they complain about developing public transit (or dont use it).
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  #51  
Old Posted Aug 26, 2005, 5:05 PM
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August 26, 2005 – Live The Hollywood Life at New Condo Tower

Article Date: 08/26/05

Full Story:
An exciting new upscale condo project is underway in the heart of Hollywood, as Metro Modern Developers just broke ground on The Hollywood, a five-story development at 6735 Yucca St, just east of Highland Ave and north of Hollywood Blvd. The Hollywood will consist of 54 two- and three-bedroom units featuring spectacular city views, 18-foot ceilings, a resort-style pool and lounge, and two levels of subterranean parking.

The Hollywood is the first significant new condominium project to be built in Hollywood in decades and represents an important element of the ongoing urban renaissance of Hollywood. The development, which is slated for completion in late 2006, should have a significant influence on the future of residential development in the area.

“The design aesthetic of The Hollywood has been created with an eye toward reinventing the modern image of the city,” said Stephen Kanner, from Kanner Architects, the architect on The Hollywood. “Hollywood’s historic art deco architecture will serve as a backdrop for this new landmark that points the way forward, toward a visual style that captures the vibe of today’s Hollywood.”

As vital as the project’s sleek, edgy look will be in attracting buyers, The Hollywood’s location is also sure to be a major selling point. It is positioned in the center of the hottest nightlife in the city, heralding a return to the days when Hollywood was the place to see or be seen in Los Angeles. Rokbar and Lucky Strike, Geisha House and the Egyptian Theater, Nacional and the Knitting Factory—all are just steps from the front door. The project is also a short walk away from the Red Line subway station at Hollywood and Highland, connecting residents to the 17-mile system providing service throughout Los Angeles.

“Because of its prime location, The Hollywood is already a hot property among the young elite of the entertainment industry,” said Gabriel Tauber, managing partner of Metro Modern Developers. “Residents will have the luxury of enjoying a fun night out on the town and then literally walking home to their amazing condo. In the car- and cab-driven culture of Los Angeles, that level of proximity to so many dining and entertainment options is a unique and remarkable amenity.”
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  #52  
Old Posted Aug 26, 2005, 6:57 PM
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^

They tore down the existing apartments almost overnight. Just across the street of this new development is a span of asphalt parking lots that encompass 2 city blocks (probably the biggest concentration of open air parking lots in Hollywood). I would like to see something happen with these lots.

Last edited by dktshb; Aug 26, 2005 at 7:04 PM.
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  #53  
Old Posted Aug 26, 2005, 7:53 PM
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And just to think, back in the early eighties even me and my punker friends would be creeped out by the general mayhem of the Hollywood neighborhoods.

Still wondering what's going on at the SE corner of Franklin and Highland Ave. The sheltered walkway is up along the sidewalk and there's a real estate sign on the empty lot promising some sort of luxury (or retirement) apartment breaking ground. The dumpy office building next to it also appears to be either getting a facelift or prepping for demolition.
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  #54  
Old Posted Aug 26, 2005, 8:02 PM
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and what's up with the northeast corner of Hollywood and Highland... that building would make a nice something!
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  #55  
Old Posted Aug 26, 2005, 8:04 PM
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Quote:
The Hollywood is the first significant new condominium project to be built in Hollywood in decades
What about Sunset and Vine? Anyways, five stories isn't anything exciting, But I hope it sparks some more interest in this area.
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  #56  
Old Posted Aug 26, 2005, 8:11 PM
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^ Sunset and Vine is a for lease property. The Hollywood will be for sale. Of course, the W. the Nederlander's project, and the Sunset Tower will get the most attention when they're completed.
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  #57  
Old Posted Sep 8, 2005, 5:18 PM
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Some Hollywood Stars Are Fading Away
Famous five-starred streetlights are being replaced with a vintage style as area's revamp continues.
By David Pierson
Times Staff Writer

September 8, 2005

Hollywood Boulevard, that aging starlet, is getting another face-lift. And right now, they're doing the eyes.

Workers are busily pulling down the distinctive boxy street lamps adorned with five stars that have welcomed visitors to the boulevard since the 1960s.

Sure, the lamps are famous enough to have adorned postcards. But to many in Hollywood, they are just an unpleasant reminder of Hollywood Boulevard's sad old days of decline.

In their place are rising faux historic street lamps modeled to look like the ones that lined the street during its heyday in the 1930s.

Which is another way of saying, "Let's forget about the unfortunate '80s."

Twenty years after the Community Redevelopment Agency and other city entities began to clean up the boulevard, Hollywood is the closest it has been in decades to freeing itself of its seedy side.

Today, tourists swarm the intersection of Hollywood and Highland, snapping pictures with Star Wars characters in front of the multistory mall, drinking ice cream floats at the Disney-owned soda fountain or catching a film at the Disney-owned El Capitan theater. Even the Roosevelt Hotel has reinvented itself into a hipper-than-thou hangout, where fashionistas and paparazzi drool over the prospect of entering the hallowed grounds of the poolside Tropicana Bar.

There has been much debate over the years over whether the city's extensive and expensive efforts to revitalize Hollywood Boulevard have worked — and to what degree the city's efforts are responsible for the current boom. The redevelopment agency has spent $120 million in Hollywood since 1986, including $90 million in subsidies just for the Hollywood/Highland complex and millions more for an earlier boulevard face-lift that involved adding statues and spotlights on the street. (The five-star lights were the product of an even earlier redevelopment effort, in the late 1960s.)

The latest effort is comparatively cheap: about $1 million to renovate 154 street lamps. But backers say it's an important move.

"The streetlights are another piece of the puzzle," said Leron Gubler, president of the Hollywood Chamber of Commerce. "They symbolize the coming together of the city and the businesses to restore the ambience of the neighborhood. You have to start somewhere."

The outgoing five-star lamps may be recognizable the world over during broadcasts of the Hollywood Christmas Parade. But they had also become a headache to the city and organizers of that event.

The wiring was deteriorating, shutting off some of the Christmas lights, connected to the streetlights' wiring, during the parade. The wattage was not bright enough to illuminate both the street and the sidewalk, especially on a misty day. And those red stars on the sides of the lamps? Those were supposed to light up.

The new lamps have teardrop heads on two arms at the top, giving them a similar look to the vintage lights that line the Miracle Mile stretch of Wilshire Boulevard. But these lamps also have a third arm hanging over the sidewalk.

"The new lights will help pedestrian traffic," Gubler said. "We want people to feel safe."

They're already paying dividends for Saeid Askari, manager of Hollywood Tourist Gifts, across the street from the Hollywood & Highland Center.

"It's brighter and it looks better," said Askari, 28. "There used to be a lot of drug dealers outside."

Two years ago, he said, someone tried to hold up his store, a high-ceilinged space draped with posters of movie stars and stocked with Academy Award replica statues, refrigerator magnets and Hollywood T-shirts. The would-be burglar didn't get away with any money, but he broke the cashier's hand while lunging for the cash register, Askari said.

"We can close at 1 or 2 in the morning now because people feel more safe," Askari said.

Ruben Bailon, a liberally pierced tattoo artist who runs a parlor near Hollywood and Vine, touts the new lights with the conviction of a Chamber of Commerce official.

"I'm behind anything that will help Hollywood become more positive and get rid of the filth," said Bailon, 31. "Without being tacky, they should give this town a sense of age again."

The lamps have even won over some longtime Hollywood stalwarts who are not completely happy with the district's sparkling new look.

"I think they fit the Hollywood look better," said Gita Bull, an afternoon-shift bartender at the ageless Frolic Room next to the Pantages Theatre. "I mean, I don't sit outside looking at the lights all day, but I like them better."

Ask her about Hollywood/Highland — the mega-development of restaurants, shops and an auditorium that plays host to the Academy Awards as well as concerts — and her face contorts in disgust.

"I don't even go down there," Bull said. "The only attraction is Sephora [a cosmetics shop], because I'm a girl. But it's so tourist-oriented. We need it, but how about the locals?"

Gubler appreciates Disney's investment on the boulevard and said it would not result in a so-called Disneyfication of Hollywood, as some New Yorkers have charged Times Square of undergoing.

"It's in no one's interest to push out the things that make Hollywood unique and edgy," Gubler said. "The intention is not to turn the whole thing into Disneyland. The nightlife is a major attraction. The sex shops I'd rather see elsewhere; I think most businesses would."

Hollywood Boulevard was developed as the Los Angeles area pushed west out of downtown. During the 1920s and '30s, it was considered one of the region's most fashionable districts, home to various boutiques and a slate of department stores.

But after World War II, the boulevard began a gradual decline. By the 1970s, it was known much more as a tourist trap — and a slightly seedy one at that — rather than an upscale shopping area. Crime rose. In 1994 another slap in the face came when subway construction caused the sidewalk to buckle and sink, forcing workers to remove 27 Walk of Fame stars from the terrazzo.

Hollywood's turnaround began later that decade as trendy bars and restaurants opened along Hollywood and Sunset boulevards. Large developments such as the ArcLight theater complex and Hollywood/Highland followed.

It feels safer now, Bull admits, while adding that the sense of danger in 1980s Hollywood was overblown. "You just had to be cautious and not walk on your own at 3 a.m.," she said.

Hollywood historian Robert Nudelman cannot count how many times Hollywood has undergone a face-lift. This time, he says, they've gotten it right with the lights.

"A lot of the time it was basic maintenance that was needed rather than more froufrou" street renovations, said Nudelman, director for preservation issues at Hollywood Heritage. "Then they'd find there was no money to maintain the changes. So then the new things become part of the problem, like the old lights were. The new lights solve that problem because they're brighter and cheaper to maintain."

Nudelman called the old five-star lights "cheesy" and said the new ones adhered to other historical renovations such as the El Capitan and the Hillview Apartments, which were set ablaze in 2002 and have been restored in all their pink glory as in the 1920s, when they were home to silent film stars of the day.

But he's not so kind when it comes to Hollywood's modern updates, such as the Hollywood & Highland Center or many of the bars and clubs.

"They look like boxes with holes punched in them," said Nudelman, 49. "You can't build anything without billboards."

The thriving nightlife only means that life in the daytime is dormant, he said.

And for the resident of Whitley Avenue off Hollywood Boulevard, weekends can be unbearable.

"There's never any parking," he said. "And at 2 a.m., you get the first wave of yelling and screaming, bottles smashing and cars screeching. You talk about the edgy part of Hollywood — try sleeping at night."

The noise may only get worse as redevelopment continues.

There is a $325-million plan to revamp Hollywood and Vine with a hotel, retail shops and condominiums. The historical facades will be preserved on some buildings, while the others will receive a modern makeover.

For those worried that the face-lift will scar the neighborhood's history, Hollywood's honorary mayor, Johnny Grant, points out that touch-up work can always be done.

"The lights aren't historic," Grant said, "but they look it."
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  #58  
Old Posted Sep 8, 2005, 5:39 PM
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Cool.

BTW, here are the revamped Hillview Apartments:
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  #59  
Old Posted Sep 8, 2005, 6:03 PM
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WOW!!! Very nice, and the color matches the stars on the sidewalk!
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  #60  
Old Posted Sep 8, 2005, 6:24 PM
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Cool. Finally a building with some decorative framework on the columns and the overhangs. I haven't seen that done well in a long time.
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