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'Thanks for the Memory' Expected When Garage Plays Movie Music

November 23, 1986|RUTH RYON | Times Staff Writer

Musical chairs have been around for a long time, but musical floors?

That's the idea behind a parking program that will be fully operational in Century City the first week of December.

At that time, each floor in the four-level subterranean garage and five-level, above-ground annex of the 26-story Century City North office tower will be themed to a famous motion picture.

The subterranean garage will have music as well as reproductions of original posters. Levels will be themed to "Gone With the Wind," with its recurring song, "My Own True Love," played within drivers' hearing, "Singin' in the Rain," "The Wizard of Oz," and "Star Wars."

The annex will have no music, because office tenants mainly park there.

"They park in the same places all the time, so there is no necessity to help them remember where they parked," said a spokeswoman for Chicago-based JMB Property Management Corp., which operates Century City North.

Wall Graphics

However, the movie themes will be carried out in posters from "Gone With the Wind," "Hello Dolly," "Goldfinger," "The Sound of Music" and "Fiddler on the Roof," on--where else?--the roof.

Both the annex and the garage also will have movie-oriented wall graphics, designed by Simon & McLean Design Corp. of Chicago.

It should be a lot easier for people to remember where they park when they see these signs and hear such favorites as "Over the Rainbow," believes Joseph Honescko Sr., senior vice president and regional manager of JMB Property Management Corp.

Not that remembering was more difficult at Century City North than at many other parking structures. Some people can't recall where they left their car, even in a small mall.

The program wasn't undertaken to increase parking revenues, either, although increased revenues resulted in other states where a similar parking idea was implemented.

"The building was leased, so people will park there no matter what we do," Frank P. Coari, vice president of JMB Property Management Corp., said. JMB has been operating the building, which opened in 1972, since the late 1970s.

"No," Coari continued, "we had no need to generate business, but we did have a need to make the garage conform to the look of the rest of the building."

And the look, or the image, of the building, he and Honescko agreed, was one of entertainment. "Our major clients are primarily in the entertainment business," Coari explained.

Among the tenants are a large talent agency, a law firm that specializes in entertainment, a film production company, business managers and accounting firms which represent entertainers, and an Australian television network.

"Some of the people who park in that building have cars that are more expensive than a lot of houses," Honescko noted.

So JMB didn't mind spending $317,000 to upgrade parking and turn it into a themed garage. Coari conceded, "Some people might think that's extravagant."

"But," Honescko said, "the parking area is the first impression people get of the building, and this is especially true in Los Angeles, where the main form of transportation is the car."

He and Coari view Century City North as "a classic building." So they chose classic movies for their floor themes. Movies were a natural, since the office tower was one of the first major office buildings to be constructed in Century City, which was developed on the 20th Century Fox studios lot.

"We didn't necessarily choose musicals but movies with distinctive music," he added, singling out "Star Wars" and "Gone With the Wind" in this category.

This will be the first time, he claims, that an office building in California will have parking facilities themed both audibly and visually.

The idea was the brainchild of Myron Warshauer, who heads Standard Parking Corp., operator of Century City North's 1,843-car garage. Warshauer initiated the "musical" or "singing" garag1696621423of movies in the 10-story 203 N. La Salle Self-Park building, which opened in 1984.

Complaints From Attendants

"We thought it was the neatest marketing tool," Honescko said. So JMB talked Warshauer (whose efforts won his firm the Institutional and Municipal Parking Congress Award for excellence in innovation in a parking operation or program) into operating the garage for JMB's 1001 Fourth Avenue Plaza building in Seattle, using the cities theme, starting in 1985.

That theme generated considerable publicity and such remarks as--"I left my heart in San Francisco, but I left my car on New York." And: "You can even park in New York without dealing with New Yorkers."

There were also some complaints. "But we learned from them," Honescko was quick to add. The main objection came from parking attendants who got tired of hearing the same song all day.

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