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Real estate deal points to Hollywood's comeback

CIM Group has purchased the former Old Spaghetti Factory building at Sunset Boulevard and Gordon Street. It plans to build the retail, office and residential project approved for previous owners.

August 10, 2011|By Roger Vincent, Los Angeles Times
  • Shayne Miranda walks his dog past the shuttered Hollywood building last used as The Old Spaghetti Factory. CIM Group wants to preserve the 1924 building, incorporating it into a complex with a 22-story apartment or condominium tower with 305 units. There would also be 40,000 square feet of office and retail space.
Shayne Miranda walks his dog past the shuttered Hollywood building last… (Francine Orr, Los Angeles…)

A historic Sunset Boulevard property approved for high-rise construction has been purchased by Hollywood's largest commercial landlord — the latest sign of the neighborhood's economic comeback.

CIM Group bought the former Old Spaghetti Factory building, recognizable by its row of Greek columns, on 1.7 acres at Sunset and Gordon Street. The company said it plans to build the retail, office and residential project approved by the city for previous owners.

CIM Group didn't reveal how much it paid Washington Real Estate Holdings for the property at 5939 W. Sunset Blvd., but real estate experts who track Hollywood valued the transaction at more than $20 million.

The deal involves one of several long-delayed real estate projects that are getting back on track.

"Things ground to a halt in Hollywood over the last couple of years," said Leron Gubler, president of the Hollywood Chamber of Commerce. "This will be a chance to really get started again."

Among the other projects getting ready for their close-up: A large apartment complex called the Avenue — formerly the Madrone condominiums — is set to open later this year on La Brea Avenue near Hollywood Boulevard after a lengthy holdup.

Construction is set to being shortly on a $57-million, eight-story office building at Vine Street and Selma Avenue, a site long occupied by Molly's Hamburgers.

Work is also expected to begin soon on Blvd 6200, a 1,000-unit apartment and retail complex on Hollywood Boulevard between Argyle and El Centro avenues, close to the Pantages Theatre.

The white brick and stucco Old Spaghetti Factory building is best known from its last incarnation as a restaurant. But the structure has a past worthy of its place in the heart of Hollywood.

The building opened in 1924 as a dealership for Peerless brand automobiles. In the 1930s, it became home to the Max Reinhardt Workshop of Stage, Screen and Radio — an acting studio. Reinhardt was a famous theater and movie director remembered in part for his removal of the bowl structure from the Hollywood Bowl in order to stage a sprawling production of Shakespeare's "A Midsummer Night's Dream" starring his discovery, Olivia de Havilland.

Radio station KMPC turned the building into broadcast studios in 1944, when the neighborhood was known as Radio Row. Johnny Grant, who would become the unofficial mayor of Hollywood, was a KMPC disc jockey.

The station moved across the street in the late 1960s, yet continued to use the building for storage. In 1976, it was turned into the Old Spaghetti Factory, which served diners for decades. (The Portland, Ore.-based chain still operates about 40 locations in 14 states.)

Portland, Ore.-based Gerding Edlen Development in 2006 announced plans to build a $150-million mixed-use condominium project at the site, but the project was delayed by lawsuits and the recession, Gubler said.

The Gerding Edlen design now being pursued by CIM Group calls for preservation of the 1924 building, incorporating it into a complex with a 22-story apartment or condominium tower with 305 units. There would also be 40,000 square feet of office and retail space.

"The average vintage of office product in Hollywood is somewhat dated, so a newer modern office component to this development would be very well received by potential users," real estate broker Marc Renard of Cushman & Wakefield said.

There were several bidders for the property, said Renard, who with Carl Muhlstein represented the seller. "There was global interest in the site because of the location and the magnitude of the potential development opportunity."

The site is near Sunset Gower Studios, Sunset Bronson Studios and across the street from the planned Emerson College film and television training center.

roger.vincent@latimes.com

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