Preservationists raise concerns about Crossroads of the World redevelopment: ‘We’re headed to Manhattanization of Hollywood’

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When plans were revealed in 2015 for Hollywood’s massive Crossroads of the World redevelopment, developer Harridge Development Group maintained that the historic Crossroads complex at the heart of the project would be “restored to its glory.”

But Los Angeles Cultural Heritage Commissioners and preservationists say that Harridge’s plan to preserve the site’s history doesn’t go far enough.

The developers intend to keep the 1930s complex, raze several old buildings around it, and relocate one of the Crossroads buildings in order to erect a 26-story hotel, a 30-level condo tower, and an apartment building with 32 floors. Among the buildings that might be demolished is the former headquarters of The Hollywood Reporter.

Margot Gerber, president of the Art Deco Society of Los Angeles, told the commission at its Thursday meeting that the development is “wrong for the neighborhood.”

The commission has recommended that the City Council landmark the former THR building, but that designation won’t necessarily save it from the wrecking ball. It would allow city officials to delay demolition for up to a year in order to explore options for preservation.

In a presentation before the commission Thursday, Kyndra Casper, a land-use attorney working on the project, said that the developer’s main objective is the rehabilitation and restoration of the Crossroads of the World complex—listed in the National Register of Historic Places and a local Historic-Cultural Monument.

Casper said that an alternative plan, which would preserve other historic properties on the project site (including the THR building), was reviewed by the city’s planning department, but that staff had indicated that this alternative would block key elements of the new development.

Adrian Scott Fine, director of advocacy at the Los Angeles Conservancy, told the commission that the fact that the project’s draft environmental impact report contained only one preservation alternative was “not typical” and urged the commissioners to help seek a “preservation-based solution.”

The commissioners themselves expressed concern about plans to move one of the buildings in the Crossroads complex and about how the new development would fit in with its surroundings.

“We’re headed to Manhattanization of Hollywood,” said commissioner Gail Kennard.

The commissioners agreed to send a letter to the planning department about their concerns once the project’s final environmental impact report is released.

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