By Hillel Aron
By Joseph Tsidulko
By Patrick Range McDonald
By David Futch
By Hillel Aron
By Dennis Romero
By Jill Stewart
By Dennis Romero
Passed in 1997, the living-wage ordinance, which requires city contractors to pay their employees a minimum of $7.50 an hour with benefits and $8.25 without, was Goldberg’s signature achievement on the City Council. At the time of her discussions with TrizecHahn, Goldberg was embroiled in a fight with the Mayor’s Office and with several city departments that had interpreted the ordinance narrowly to exclude city franchisees such as airlines and security firms. If Goldberg could persuade TrizecHahn — not technically a city contractor — to sign off on living-wage provisions, she would be establishing an important precedent.
TrizecHahn’s executives could scarcely believe their luck. The living-wage ordinance, applied to the mall’s security and service personnel, would cost them a relative Ă¤ pittance, and they quickly signed off on the deal. They also agreed not to block unionization efforts at their hotel. Henceforth, Goldberg would become their biggest and most important booster.The living-wage and pro-unionprovisions are central to Goldberg’s emerging vision of Hollywood’s economic and social development. On a recent walking tour of the neighborhood around the boulevard, Goldberg’s first stop is the Halifax apartment building at Cahuenga and Yucca. The onetime home of Bette Davis and Joan Crawford, the Halifax had devolved over the years into one of Hollywood’s sadder emblems. "When you thought of a slum, of the word dreadful, a place you never wanted to walk by, much less walk into, you were thinking of the Halifax," Goldberg says. "People wanted to tear it down." But the building, with an infusion of redevelopment funds, survived. Now, says the councilwoman, "It’s our pride and joy."
Goldberg swoops inside the 1930s-vintage lobby, greeting tenants cheerfully, provoking polite exchanges of "Hello" and "How are you?" She pauses, peering up at the coffered ceiling. "This is my Hollywood, the Chandleresque Hollywood," Goldberg says, running her hand along the Corinthian columns, "and I don’t want it to disappear."
The restoration of low-income housing, Goldberg argues, "had to happen if Hollywood Boulevard was going to come back. Otherwise, these slums are millstones that will drag it down." As Goldberg lays out her conception for revival, she sounds part piercing urban critic Jane Jacobs and part Robert Moses, the nation’s greatest re developer (and Jacobs’ long-standing nemesis). "There are three Hollywoods," she explains, "residential, entertainment-production and tourist. None can be healthy if the others are not healthy." The Halifax and TrizecHahn, in other words, are inextricably bound together. "We are making this a place where people who are making a living wage have decent, clean, affordable and, in this case, gorgeous housing," she says, gesturing at the lobby. "My hope is they’ll be able to work nearby" — presumably at Hollywood and Highland — "at living wages."
Goldberg is unabashed about her faith in the huge project down the block. Of another hotel proposed for the site cater-cornered to Hollywood and Highland, to be known as "the Doubletree at Highland," she enthuses, "It’s a clear spinoff. Now that TrizecHahn is here . . . kaboom! Now it happens! Even if it’s not perfect, all we want the TrizecHahn project to do is up the ante. That’s all we want it to do."
By this time, Goldberg has made her way south on Las Palmas, marching toward the rear of the Egyptian Theater, the new home of the American Cinematheque — what Goldberg calls her "second favorite project." In the shade of the Las Palmas newsstand, she pauses to tick off the tony restaurants that have sprung up around the Cinematheque.
"It’s the percolating effect, absolutely 100 percent the percolating effect," Goldberg says, bringing the subject back around to TrizecHahn. "These people capitalize on big projects coming in. Where there is money going in, more money follows." Indeed, last month new investors stepped in to take over the perennially troubled Galaxy Mall, citing the anticipated impact of Hollywood and Highland as a major factor in their decision. And last week, Frederick’s of Hollywood announced that, due to rising real estate prices in the area, the company would sell its landmark building on the boulevard — while continuing to operate its store at street level.
In fact, however, in her repetition of the new Hollywood-redevelopment gospel of big bangs and economic catalysts, Goldberg has reversed the chronology. The Cinematheque, the dust-off of the boulevard, the incipient hipness of the neighborhood — all precede TrizecHahn. Indeed, some argue, Malmuth’s mall would never have arrived on the boulevard were it not for the piecemeal revival that has been under way since Goldberg’s predecessor, former City Councilman Mike Woo, kick-started the Egyptian restoration in 1992.
What sparked Hollywood’s comeback was not glitz and big economic engines like TrizecHahn. It was neighborhood patrols and the creation of a Business Improvement District that financed mundanities like street sweeping and better security on Hollywood Boulevard. It was the CRA’s decision, in the early 1990s, to put money into fundamentals, such as landscaping and sidewalk repair, that had been neglected in the grander visions. It was, in short, the sort of ground-up incrementalism from which Hollywood and Highland represents an abrupt departure.