It’s getting better all the time.
Jackie Goldberg, a former schoolteacher who now sits on the Los Angeles City Council, wagged a finger at Hollywood a year ago and declared the run-down district worthy of no more than a B-.
This time it got a B+.
In her fourth annual “State of Hollywood” address on Friday, Goldberg said the revitalization of the fabled business district was proceeding apace and showing promise.
“The private sector has certainly stepped up to invest in Hollywood, and there are many business owners who hung in there through tough times,” Goldberg told a Hollywood Chamber of Commerce luncheon. “They deserve plenty of credit. But there is also a role for government and that role is to help stimulate investment, to organize, to provide resources.”
Property owners in a 25-block area surrounding Hollywood Boulevard east of La Brea received letters last week announcing a proposal to expand the Hollywood Entertainment District. The letter kicked off a two-month campaign to seek enough signatures on a petition to form a $1.6 million business improvement district. The assessment will be divided among properties according to a formula that takes into consideration street frontage, land area and building size.
The new phase of the entertainment district includes landmarks such as the Capitol Records building, Musso & Frank’s Grill, The Palace and Frederick’s of Hollywood. The district’s first phase included Mann’s Chinese Theater, the Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel and the El Capitan Theater, which is being restored. The Max Factor building on Hollywood Boulevard is also undergoing renovation.
“We feel an expanded Hollywood Entertainment District sends a powerful message that property owners in Hollywood are bullish about the future,” Goldberg said.
Lessons learned in the renovation of New York’s Times Square are not lost on Hollywood business leaders such as the Nederlander Group’s David Green, who sits on the business improvement district’s steering committee.
“We’ve witnessed the positive impact of a (business improvement district) where we own theaters in New York City,” said Green, who plans to help establish “an exciting live theater district around Hollywood and Vine.”
Last year, Hollywood saw the completion of 25 new or expanded entertainment-industry related projects and the beginning of several others. Pacific Title/Mirage, a new entertainment company that has moved into the Pacific Bell building on Gower, is expected to create 200 jobs.
Increased police presence, demolition of slum housing and community patrols have led to a decrease in crime, Goldberg said. Violent crime in the area is down 41% since 1993, and property crimes have dropped 47% in the same period.
“We can never forget that we also face major competition from places like Burbank and Culver City,” Goldberg said. “We have to do everything possible to ensure that we keep our entertainment-industry businesses here. More businesses are moving in than moving out. We still face a hefty challenge of changing the perception.”