Capitol Records Tower | Los Angeles Conservancy
Postcard from L.A. Conservancy Archives

Capitol Records Tower

The developers of the Millennium Hollywood Project have stated they won’t seek building permits for the project until two lawsuits against them are resolved.  LA Weekly has reported on details of the litigation affecting the currently postponed project.

On July 24, 2013, the Los Angeles City Council unanimously approved the Millennium Hollywood Project proposed near Hollywood’s iconic Capitol Records Tower.  During the Planning and Land Use Management (PLUM) Committee’s review of the project on June 18, developer Millennium Partners agreed to a reduced density project, now capped at thirty-nine stories to the east and thirty-five stories to the west.

While the new construction would occupy the parcels surrounding the Capitol Records Tower and those across Vine Street, the landmark itself would not be altered or have a change in use.

The Conservancy has worked with the developers to ensure safeguards are in place to protect important viewsheds of Capitol Records and that new construction is set back from historic resources on and adjacent to the site.

The tower’s owners, developers Millennium Partners and Argent Ventures, announced plans for a mixed-use complex with residential units and hotel, office, restaurant, and retail space in 2011. Rising on both sides of the 1700 block of North Vine Street, the new construction could potentially consist of two high rise towers, lower-scale buildings, public walkways, and open space. It would be built around the landmarked Capitol Records Tower using open space and setbacks as a buffer. Tenant EMI Music would continue to use the building as office space and recording studios.

The developers sought a twenty-five year Development Agreement with the City to allow for long-term build out of the project and flexibility in determining the ultimate mix of uses and building sizes within pre-defined limits. A set of Development Regulations with design guidelines and standards would establish the requirements for the project, including open spaces and setbacks that would protect views of Capitol Records from the corner of Hollywood and Vine and ensure the new development steps back from low-scale historic buildings adjacent to the site.

In 2006, the Conservancy’s Modern Committee successfully nominated the Capitol Records Tower as a City of Los Angeles Historic-Cultural Monument (HCM). As such, the building was considered a historic resource under the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) in the project’s environmental review. The site is also to the north of the National Register-listed Hollywood Boulevard Commercial and Entertainment District.

The Conservancy commented on the Notice of Preparation in May 2011 and on the Draft Environmental Impact Report in December 2012 as part of the project’s CEQA review. Our comments focused on ensuring compatible, complementary new infill construction to protect the integrity of Capitol Records and its setting and raised concerns about the twenty-five-year development term requested. We believed that this period is exceedingly long and could limit the consideration of more appropriate opportunities in the future as the economic climate and demand for certain uses change. We also asked that the EIR evaluate the project’s structural and acoustical impacts to the building’s historic underground recording studios and reverberation chambers.

The Conservancy has met with the developers to address our concerns and to clarify specific points in the draft Development Regulations. While community concerns have centered on the height of the potential towers, the Conservancy’s goal is to ensure that safeguards are in place so new development does not adversely impact important features of Hollywood regardless of changing market conditions, ownership or other factors that will ultimately determine what will be built.

The Conservancy has been primarily focused on the project’s Development Regulations that establish definitive standards and guidelines for new construction at the project site for the future. Through our discussions with Millennium Partners, the Conservancy is confident now that we have specific language in place that calls out and protects the significant view of Capitol Records from the corner of Hollywood and Vine. Further, Millennium Partners has agreed to a thirty-foot separation between the two-story, historic Hollywood Playhouse (Avalon) and the proposed new construction immediately north and on the west side of Vine. These measures ensure there is sufficient breathing room for the lower-scaled historic resources surrounding the project site.

The Conservancy is very pleased to have worked together with Millennium Partners and is in support of these precise safeguards that protect the view corridors of the historic Capitol Records Building and provide adequate space between new construction and the historic structures. This secures and protects two of Hollywood’s historic resources regardless of changing market conditions, ownership, or other factors that will ultimately determine what will be built at this site.