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
In fact, an obscure “traffic-impact study,” prepared by Fehr & Peers/Kaku Associates and reviewed by city transportation officials in March, says that eight of the 27 Hollywood-area intersections affected by the two towers’ thousands of commuters would be “significantly impacted” — a rating that signals mass congestion. Those intersections are: Argyle and Franklin avenues at the 101 freeway, El Centro Avenue and Hollywood Boulevard, Gower Street and Franklin, Gower and Hollywood, Gower and Selma Avenue, Gower and Sunset Boulevard, Bronson Avenue and Hollywood, and Bronson and Sunset. (Click here to download a PDF of the seven-page report.)
Three road segments also look grim, according to the study, including Selma east of Gower, Labaig Avenue between Selma and Sunset, and El Centro south of Leland Way. Yet neither Maripat Donovan nor Bob Blue, chair of the Hollywood Studio District Neighborhood Council, has seen the report.
Garcetti holds a weird faith that rich urban dwellers will eventually ditch their cars to escape the gridlock, hopping on the subway or bus. He first insisted, during an interview with the Weekly at his City Council office downtown last July, that, “I’m not trying to get people permanently out of their cars.” But a few minutes later, he switched gears and rhapsodized about people in Hollywood “never having to get into their cars.” He said he admired the pedestrian-friendly “streetscapes” of London and New York City, and wanted Hollywood to build something similar.
A few weeks ago, Garcetti suggested that taller buildings, rather than wide ones, can “help you have more pedestrian space” — another subtle push for a new kind of Los Angeles, more like the Manhattan so admired by Garcetti, who grew up in Encino, a boisterous anti-high-rise community.
Garcetti’s theory that L.A. should go higher to promote pedestrian culture has some experts wondering what books he’s reading. “The issue of building tall rather than wide has nothing to do with a better pedestrian environment,” says Massachusetts Institute of Technology professor William Mitchell, a former dean of architecture and design at UCLA and Harvard and an expert in his field. “It’s a very simplistic strategy.”
Mitchell points to London and Paris — “two of the great pedestrian cities in the world,” he says — as places that clearly frown upon skyscrapers and instead focus on dense, low-slung offices and apartments with attractive streetscapes. “You don’t have to do it by building skyscrapers. That’s a scam.”
Mitchell also says, “If you think of urban space in East Coast terms — that’s not L.A. L.A. should build on its own qualities.” He cites one-story and two-story hangouts like the Third Street Promenade in Santa Monica, Melrose Avenue near the Fairfax District, the Venice Boardwalk and, of course, the beaches as examples of “some of the world’s great public spaces.”
As for Garcetti’s fondness for bringing some of Manhattan to Los Angeles, the MIT professor practically scolds the green-living Rhodes Scholar. “Some people can’t shake this East Coast envy,” Mitchell says, “which is immature, and [they] need to get over it.”
Just a few days ago, on April 22,the rumors of the land’s sale denied by Cassidy proved true. Molasky Pacific agreed to sell the red-hot land to co-developer Apollo Real Estate Advisors.
“Molasky Pacific asked us to buy them out,” says Dean Pentikis, a partner at Apollo, which is headquartered in Manhattan, with offices in L.A. and London. It boasts an “aggregate value” of more than $30 billion, with real estate nationwide and in Japan and Europe. Molasky Pacific president Cassidy says “internal talks” started in early March, around the same time as the cocktail party, where whispers of a sale were denied. While Cassidy and his consultants worked the shindig with hardy handshakes, the land sale was already in the works. Cassidy says, “It came down to if [the deal] was worth a dollar today as opposed to three or four dollars tomorrow. We went with today" and made a “little bit” of a profit on the sale.
Garcetti’s spokeswoman, Wong, says they got word of the deal while Garcetti was presiding over a City Council meeting. He later released this statement: “No matter who is the owner or developer of this project, I have the same concern: How is this going to impact the community, the environment and traffic?”
On a recent Monday afternoon,Chris Shabel, dressed in baby blue from neck to toe, prepares for another meeting of the Hollywood Studio District Neighborhood Council. With the help of her stroller, she moves with care around her 1918 Craftsman home. She sits down on a chair in the living room and thinks about the lack of opposition to Columbia Square, especially by her own Neighborhood Council.
“I’m amazed,” she says quietly. “I feel 40 floors is humongous, and we’re not New York City. They do everything cockeyed. Here in L.A., it’s ‘let the developers develop — then we’ll do the infrastructure.’ ”