Hollywood's Walk of Fame, whose tawdry appearance has been an acute embarrassment to the city of Los Angeles, is about to receive a partial face lift.
Beginning next month, 191 new flower planters, 88 benches and 27 trash receptacles will be placed on Hollywood Boulevard between Wilcox and Cherokee avenues, according to Councilman Michael Woo.
Valley Crest Landscape Inc. has been awarded a $170,000 contract for the new street furniture. The contract is being financed with federal funds by the city Community Development Department.
Pompea Smith, director of the department's Hollywood Economic Revitalization Effort (HERE), said the project is the city's first major beautification program on the street.
The Walk of Fame, with its star-shaped memorials embedded in the sidewalk, honors the celebrities of motion pictures, music, radio and television.
Although it is one of the major tourist attractions in Southern California, critics say Hollywood Boulevard is the site of many garish and ugly storefronts and is populated by pimps, prostitutes, drunks, drug users and panhandlers.
"We hope the project, together with other plans, such as redevelopment, will act as a magnet to the private sector to clean up the commercial corridor of Hollywood," Smith said.
She said that HERE will consider extending the project along the rest of the boulevard after the first phase, which includes about one-third of the Walk of Fame, is completed in September.
Prototypes of the new furniture will be displayed in an unveiling ceremony at 3 p.m. Tuesday at the corner of Hollywood Boulevard and Cherokee Avenue. Woo will lead the unveiling ceremony.
HERE is leading the city effort to spruce up the boulevard's storefronts, having refurbished one building on the northwest corner of Wilcox Avenue and Hollywood Boulevard.
Smith said that her agency is going to start rehabilitating the storefronts on the north side of Hollywood Boulevard between Highland and Las Palmas avenues and on the south side between Cherokee and Hudson avenues.
Bob A. Goldfarb, a member of the Hollywood Cleanup Restoration Council, said he was amazed and pleased that the city was finally making a commitment to improve the look of Hollywood Boulevard.
His organization, composed of merchants and residents, has tried for years to spruce up the street, without visible results.
"Here you have one of the most famous streets in the world," Goldfarb said, "and it is an eyesore. The new street furniture will not remove all of the boulevard's sleaze. But for the first time in more than six years, I believe we are off and running."
He credited Woo with giving refurbishing efforts a shot in the arm. "He has given us the one thing we lacked to get the job done, aggressive leadership and vision," Goldfarb said.