Real estate: Vintage H'wood buildings get new lease


Downtown Los Angeles isn't the only neighborhood benefiting from adaptive reuse. Taking their cues from the growing nightlife and popularity of Hollywood, developers are acquiring buildings once used as office space and renovating them as high-end loft residences.

One of the most anticipated projects is the Kor Group's Broadway Hollywood, located at 1645 Vine St. Built in 1927 as the Broadway department store, the building will now feature airy lofts with views of the Hollywood sign and Griffith Park. The Palisades Development Group is building the Lofts at Hollywood and Vine (pictured), where the contemporary residences have exposed beams and city and mountain views. And in the largest mixed-use development in Hollywood, the W Hotel is erecting a compound at Hollywood and Vine that spans five acres and will offer apartments, hotel rooms and retail space.

"The amenity base in Hollywood is deeper than downtown," says John Given, senior vp development at CIM Group, which is involved in more than a dozen Hollywood properties, from loft conversions to the Woolworth Building on Hollywood Boulevard. "There are more stores, clubs and connectivity."

The escalating nightlife of the area has been the driving force for developers who hope hip owners will consider following the beat. "The clubs and lounges were the green light for residential to follow," says Kate Bartolo, senior vp development at the Kor Group. "But that became a green light for offices to come back as well, so it's tougher now. The cost of conversion for residential is very expensive, whereas an office can do a more cosmetic upgrade."

Developer Tom Gilmore also sees an inherent problem in expanding beyond what's already planned in Hollywood because of its touristy reputation. "That makes it harder for a civic culture to thrive," he says. "Hollywood is so transient."

But developers are betting big bucks that it won't be for thousands of residents drawn to the location's proximity to the studios as well as the area's iconic architecture. "We're very proud of the project we're going to end up with," Bartolo says. But even she warns that buyers might soon be looking at new construction in Hollywood rather than conversions. "Adaptive reuse, especially historical adaptive reuse, is not for the faint of heart," she says with a laugh. "No matter how knowledgeable and experienced you are, it has to be a labor of love."


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