As the year 2014 draws to a close, I thought I would write one final column to end the year. Based on the scorecard that I keep, it was a very good year for Hollywood on the jobs front. The momentum for Hollywood continues to build.
Over the past several years, we have averaged three or four significant projects breaking ground on an annual basis. In 2014, by comparison, we had eight. They included: JH Snyder’s Hollywood 959 project with 244,000-sq.ft. of office space in the Media District, Kilroy Realty’s 700,000-sq.ft. Columbia Square project, Lennar’s 1411 N. Highland project with 76 rental units, Hollywood International Regional Center’s 182-room Dream Hotel, Hudson Pacific’s 315,000-sq.ft. Icon at Sunset-Bronson Studios, the 112-room Hampton Inn on Vine by Holivine Investments, Wood Partner’s Alta 5550 with 280-apartments, and finally JH Snyder’s 1601 Vine Street with 100,000-sq.ft. of office space.
This investment is breathing new life into Hollywood. Currently, we have about $1-billion under construction. Almost all of these projects are replacing parking lots or old dilapidated commercial buildings – not residential properties. Each of these projects will add vitality to the street and add to the safety of the neighborhood.
We also had two great leases announced in 2014 – both for Columbia Square. Neuehouse, out of New York, will occupy 93,000-sq.ft., while Viacom has leased 180,000-sq.ft. to house its cable networks, including MTV, Comedy Central, BET, and Spike TV.
With a million square feet of office space under construction and the Westside filling up, Hollywood is well positioned to benefit. We anticipate that Neuehouse and Viacom are the vanguard of new firms who will be coming to Hollywood in the future, bringing jobs that will benefit our community and Los Angeles.
Of course, there were also a few setbacks in 2014. In September, construction ceased on a 160,000-sq.ft. Target that is under construction at the corner of Sunset and Western. A judge ruled that the City should not have granted a variance for a height of 75 feet. Now the City must modify the ordinance to allow this usage. More than 200 permanent jobs are now on hold, construction workers were pulled off the job, and Hollywood residents will lose by having to leave the community to do the shopping they might have done here.
On the legislative front, we had one huge victory in the passage of AB1839 – the film tax credits bill that raises the annual credits available in California from $100-million to $330-million. This was the culmination of years of lobbying the State to take decisive action to save our signature industry. This won’t bring back all of the lost business, but it will mean that thousands of local jobs are saved and that more families will not have to be separated due to jobs outside of California. Kudos to our legislators for making this happen.
As we approach the year 2015, I am optimistic about Hollywood’s future. The investment in this historic neighborhood by responsible developers is something for which we can all be grateful. We are indeed making a difference, and showing that Hollywood can be an example for the rest of the region of how to successfully revitalize a community.
Our very best wishes to you for the holidays and New Year!
Leron Gubler has been serving as the President and CEO of the Hollywood Chamber of Commerce for the past 22 years. His tenure since 1992 continues to oversee the great comeback story of Hollywood.