Earthquake Fault Line Shakes Up Hollywood's Skyscraper Plan

Foes of the $664 million project say it will obscure freeway views of the Capitol Records building.

Geologists' verdict could determine whether the L.A.-approved Millennium Hollywood mega-development takes shape around the Capitol Records building.

This story first appeared in the Aug. 9 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine.

In Hollywood, even fault lines must be nominated to be taken seriously. The controversial $664 million Millennium Hollywood project -- a pair of proposed 35- and 39-story towers that would include 1 million square feet of hotel, office and retail space -- got a Los Angeles City Council OK on July 24, despite a huge opposition campaign claiming city reports far underplay traffic increases and a serious seismic situation.

Now state geologist John Parrish says a fault might run directly beneath the Millennium Hollywood site, the towers of which would flank (and, many say, obscure) freeway visibility of the iconic Capitol Records building. But the fault has not officially been registered under the powerful Alquist-Priolo Earthquake Fault Zoning Act, the A-list of active quake sites in California. Should Parrish's in-the-works study put it on the list, Robert Silverstein, a land-use lawyer repping more than 40 community and neighborhood groups opposed to the project, says that despite the City Council pass, it would "throw a major wrench into many future development plans, not just the Millennium project."

VIDEO: Inside L.A.'s Famed Owlwood Estate: A Super Sneak Peek

Among other proposed projects in play are two mixed-use 28-story buildings slated to surround the Hollywood Palladium; the Columbia Square project that would redevelop the historic CBS Studios site on Sunset Boulevard into a 22-story residential tower with two office buildings; and a swanky 15-story apartment building slated for Yucca Street, less than a block from the Millennium site.

All of the projects seem poised to turn Hollywood into a sky-scraping architectural haven. The Sunset Vine Tower, a 1963 building developers might be loath to remember was featured in 1974's Earthquake, was converted into loftlike apartments four years ago. (Stylist Brad Goreski has studios in one of the units.) And the recently completed Emerson College Los Angeles, designed by Pritzker Prize-winning architect Thom Mayne, has added to the skyline.

Friends executive producer Kevin Bright, founding director of the Emerson campus, says gridlocked traffic and fault lines notwithstanding, growth is good for the neighborhood. "I've been working in Hollywood since 1982, and those days you would get the hell out of here after work," he says. "I think Hollywood is at a point where architecture, the industry, colleges and people who live here are all coming together in such a dynamic way."