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Massive mixed-use project in Hollywood clears a hurdle

Over objections, the planning agency approves the proposed $664-million Millennium Hollywood development that will consist of two towers flanking the iconic Capitol Records Tower.

February 19, 2013|By Laura J. Nelson, Los Angeles Times
  • An artist's rendering of the project near the Capitol Records building in Hollywood.
An artist's rendering of the project near the Capitol Records building… (Handel Architects )

A proposal for two skyscrapers that would flank the Capitol Records tower in Hollywood gained the approval of the city's planning department Tuesday despite push-back from dozens of disgruntled residents.

The Millennium Hollywood plans are the most ambitious in a string of revitalization projects in the area, including the W Hotel and the Hollywood & Highland Center. The $664-million mixed-use development could include more than 1 million square feet of apartment, office and retail space.

The proposal comes less than a year after the L.A. City Council approved new zoning guidelines for Hollywood that allow more and taller buildings near transit hubs. The strategy is part of a vision to cluster new development around bus stops and Metro stations — a theory that Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa calls "elegant density."

In architectural renderings, balconies jut from the thin towers like a teetering game of Jenga. The 4.5-acre lot from which the skyscrapers would rise would also include green space, a pool and an outdoor library.

The site is one block from the Metro Red Line's Hollywood and Vine station, and developers say they would install bike lanes and lockers.

Nearby residents say Millennium Hollywood would make Hollywood's notoriously bad traffic worse, lengthening commutes and response times from police and firefighters. Construction noise and dust could hurt seniors and students living in the area, said Jan Martin, the president and chief executive of the American Musical and Dramatic Academy, which is next to the site. The college has nearly 1,000 students and faculty who cross Vine Street daily, steps from where the construction would occur.

"You could not possibly tune a violin with that kind of noise going on," Martin said.

Millennium Hollywood representatives said that if the school were for children, city law would require them to reduce noise or dust around the school. Because the students are adults, there are no such requirements.

Residents also said they were concerned that the skyscrapers would spoil their million-dollar views from the Hollywood Hills. According to plans, the towers could be as tall as 485 and 585 feet — more than twice the tallest building in Hollywood.

"You go too far from that, you've changed the district," said City Councilman Tom LaBonge, who took a break from a council meeting down the hall to come to the hearing. Then he turned to city planner Jim Tokunaga. "What's your favorite building in Hollywood?"

"Uh, Capitol Records," Tokunaga responded.

LaBonge nodded and looked at Tokunaga long and hard. The audience laughed.

The personality of Hollywood may favor shorter buildings now, said Phillip Aarons, an attorney representing the development, but the new skyscrapers represent the future. There has never been a height limit in the area, he said.

"Hollywood evolves," Aarons said. "That's its nature."

The Planning Commission will consider the development next month.

laura.nelson@latimes.com

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