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Montecito Remains a Haven After 56 Years

August 06, 1987|DAVID WHARTON

Even when the Montecito was abandoned and boarded up, the 10-story Art Deco landmark continued to provide shelter. The homeless of Hollywood would find places to crawl in and get off the street.

Two years and $8 million worth of renovations later, the apartment building remains a haven. Senior citizens and the handicapped live there for rents as low as $250 a month.

The Montecito has become a centerpiece of the city's promise to house low- and moderate-income people displaced by a $922-million redevelopment project aimed at restoring Hollywood.

"A lot of our tenants wouldn't be able to live anywhere else," said Stanley Treitel, one of the Montecito's owners, who received low-interest financing from the city to renovate the property. "This building has been a godsend to these people."

There are three other agency-funded buildings in Hollywood. Last week, City Councilman Michael Woo introduced a proposal that would open the way for a fifth. More will follow, the Redevelopment Agency says.

The Montecito, though, will probably remain the most visible. When the renovated tower at Franklin and Cherokee avenues was reopened last March, much was made of the building's storied past.

Hollywood celebrities such as Geraldine Page, George C. Scott, Mickey Rooney and then-actor Ronald Reagan had, at one time, lived in the 56-year-old building.

Mayor Tom Bradley attended ribbon-cutting ceremonies to christen the new, 118-apartment Montecito.

Now, in the midst of summer, things have quieted down around the building.

Eighty-four of the 118 apartments have been filled, some by tenants who were priced out of renovated buildings nearby, said manager Charles DuBose. The tenants say they are enjoying life at their new home.

"I love living here. You can't compare this with any other building. They made it beautiful for us," said Marian Fredlund, 65, a retired leasing agent. "Even when I was working, I doubt I could have afforded this place at the rents that should be charged.

"It's terrible some of the places around here," Fredlund said. "They are places you wouldn't want your mother to be in. And the rents you pay.

"Those are the pits. This is the top."

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