Boulevard of broken dreams on the mend

Just as theaters and entertainment venues revived Times Square, David Malmuth sees a massive new entertainment and retail complex as putting the glimmer on Hollywood Boulevard.

Malmuth, senior vice president of development at TrizecHahn Centers, is overseeing a $145 million project that will include a 12-screen cineplex with 4,000 seats, a 1,000-seat Babylon Premiere Theater, 285,000 square feet of retail space, 60,000 square feet of restaurants and a 2,200-space parking structure. It will have the prime position of being right next to Mann’s Chinese Theater, one of the city’s top tourist draws.

It would be a shot in the arm to an area that has seen years of decline, from the preponderance of T-shirt shops and offbeat museums to crime and prostitution.

“I believe firmly that the boulevard is on the verge of a resurgence,” Malmuth says. “This will be an economic engine not just for Hollywood, but for the city.”

He should know. Malmuth is a former Disney exec who played a key role in that company’s developments on Manhattan’s 42nd Street. The idea there was to create a critical mass that got other nearby business owners to put money into reviving their property.

In Hollywood, the idea is nothing new, but grand schemes of the past have stalled out due to a lack of funds or community opposition. The Hollywood Galaxy, a project that went forward in the early 1990s, had been largely vacant until the Hollywood Entertainment Museum opened last year.

Yet TrizecHahn has enlisted a key tenant in its project: Mann Theatres, which plans to tie its development to the renovation of its historic Chinese Theatre.

TrizecHahn is now in exclusive negotiations with the city’s Community Redevelopment Agency and the Metropolitan Transportation Authority. The MTA, which owns land in the area, hopes to tie the property’s development into the opening of a new Red Line station at Hollywood Boulevard and Highland Avenue.

And already, other projects are in the works. The Hollywood Spectacular, a flashy complex that includes a large-screen theater and retail complex to be built on the other side of the Chinese to the west, could break ground this summer. The Egyptian Theater is being revived to house the American Cinematheque. There are rumblings that hotels in the area are planning renovations or expansions.

All will help, and not necessarily siphon off tourists, Malmuth says. “Anything done with quality and great entertainment value will help this area,” he says.

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