Crossroads of the World / Hollywood Reporter Building
In 2015, Harridge Development Group unveiled plans for an ambitious, seven-acre mixed-use project in the heart of Hollywood. Anchored by the historic Crossroads of the World, the project proposes to construct three large towers (between 30 and 32 stories), as well as office and retail space along a pedestrian paseo.
The project would redevelop four parcels of land on Sunset Boulevard and Selma Avenue with more than 1.4 million square feet of residential, hotel, retail, restaurant, office, and entertainment space.
As proposed, the project would rehabilitate the Crossroads of the World and reintroduce retail to the complex, which has functioned primarily as office space since the 1950s.
In order to accommodate new construction, numerous buildings that have previously been identified as eligible for the California Register of Historical Resources would be demolished. Furthermore, the project would alter or substantially demolish the California Register-eligible Hollywood Reporter Building and potentially demolish one of the buildings in the Crossroads complex.
The City of Los Angeles published a Notice of Preparation (NOP) of an Environmental Impact Report (EIR) in October 2015. The Conservancy submitted comments in November, urging a full consideration of direct and indirect impacts on historic resources in the Draft EIR.
The Conservancy has reviewed the Draft EIR, which was released in May 2017. Comments were due on July 26, 2017.
In response to the threat to the Hollywood Reporter Building, the Art Deco Society of Los Angeles nominated the Streamline Moderne building for designation as an Historic-Cultural Monument (HCM) in May 2017. The City's Cultural Heritage Commission voted in favor of the landmark designation at their August 17, 2017 meeting. The nomination was subsequently approved by the City's Planning and Land Use Management Committee, and then went to the full City Council for a final vote, where it was approved on November 8, 2017.
The proposed project includes one of Los Angeles' most iconic properties, Crossroads of the World. Completed in 1936, the site is listed in the National Register of Historic Places and in the California Register of Historical Resources. It is also designated as Los Angeles Historic-Cultural Monument (HCM) #134.
The site also contains the Streamline Moderne Hollywood Reporter Building, originally constructed in 1937 and expanded in 1948.
In 2010, the Los Angeles Community Redevelopment Agency (CRA/LA) conducted a historic resources survey in the Hollywood Redevelopment Project Area. The survey identified eight properties in the Crossroads Hollywood project site as being eligible for the California Register or warranting special consideration in the local planning process.
Together, these identified structures represent a diversity of architectural styles and building types and provide an authentic snapshot of early development in the heart of Hollywood.
In our comments on the NOP, the Conservancy applauded the applicant's decision to retain, preserve, and rehabilitate the iconic Crossroads of the World as part of the project. We emphasized the importance of incorporating compatible, appropriately-scaled new construction into the project site in order to protect the integrity of the historic complex.
We raised concerns, however, over the omission of the Cape Cod/Early American Building from the Conceptual Site Plan. Although the current plans do not discuss the demolition of any original Crossroads structures, early renderings show a new building and the pedestrain paseo in that location.
Because each building in the complex is designed in a distinct architectural style as part of the international theme, the loss of even one of the Crossroads structures would be a significant impact.
We are also deeply concerned over the possible adverse impacts to the Hollywood Reporter Building, which could be partially or substantially demolished. Illustrations show a 32-story mixed-use tower surrounding the entire building envelope, save for its Streamline Moderne facade. Demolition of a structure while retaining its facade does not constitute preservation, nor does it mitigate the structure's loss.
We believe that opportunities exist to design a tower in this location without overwhelming or demolishing the Hollywood Reporter Building, in accordance with the Secretary of the Interior's Standards for the Treatment of Historic Properties.
Furthermore, we believe that the proposed demolition of the surveyed historic resources would result in significant impacts under the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA). Because the mixed-use project proposes 950 residential units, the Draft EIR should consider a range of options that retain some of the historic residential structures for continued use as housing while redistributing the proposed density to other appropriate locations.
We urged the City to ensure a full evaluation of potential impacts on historic resources and to mandate a fair consideration of preservation alternatives. We are confident that creative reuse options exist to rehabilitate and incorporate the Hollywood Reporter Building, as well as several of the historic residential buildings.