Hollywood Real Estate's Star Rises Again
By kathy A. McDonald
Forever tied to the movie business, Hollywood is synonymous with glitz and glamour. However, that reputation was tarnished for decades as the real-life Hollywood neighborhood fell on hard times. What always stayed constant, though, was the area’s low-rise historic core and convenient central location.
The seeds of Hollywood’s renaissance as a livable neighborhood were sown more than a decade ago, when the opening of the Metro Red Line shortened the commute between Downtown and the Valley. The development of Hollywood & Highland Center, The Walt Disney Company’s restoration of the El Capitan Theatre, and the revitalization of the Hollywood Roosevelt hotel increased the district’s appeal. Always a beacon for nightlife, the club scene exploded in the late 1990s.
Today, venues line the boulevard and are tucked away on every side street. Celebrities frequent the scene that now has more than 200 bars and restaurants in close proximity. They’ve invested, too, from Beso (backed by Eva Longoria) to Geisha House (which counts Ashton Kutcher and pals as investors) to SBE’s trendy spots like The Redbury and Katsuya by Starck in Hollywood. And with a new Trader Joe’s and the super-popular Sunday Hollywood Farmers’ Market (the go-to market for Academy Award-winning actress Natalie Portman and her beau Benjamin Millepied), the area is definitely thriving.
Downtown Tinseltown has many historic apartment buildings (north of Hollywood, south of Franklin); both Nicolas Cage and Johnny Depp lived at the French chateau-style Fontenoy, and the area remains a favorite of aspiring talent. Brad Pitt still owns a Craftsman mansion on a shady street close to Gelson’s. Most recently, new upscale apartment buildings (at the corner of Sunset and Vine and at La Brea and Hollywood Boulevards) and The Residences at W Hollywood have added upscale residential choices.
The LA home base of Entourage’s Adrian Grenier’s company, shft.com, the 143 Residences at W Hollywood are adjacent to the W Hollywood hotel and come with some prime perks: There’s a residential theater off the lobby, and residents enjoy the W’s signature Whatever/ Whenever 24-hour concierge service. Residents also enjoy Starwood Preferred Gold status for the first three years.
Although the W Hollywood is within the same complex, The Residences have their own vibe established at the front door by a separate entrance and lobby, as well as a stylish, contemporary living room on the ground floor. Elevators are private, too, and only allow residents to their own floor and the newly tricked-out private rooftop park and pool deck with cabanas, an outdoor fireplace, and landscaping by Rios Clementi Hale Studios.
Those who’ve bought into the building represent a varied cross-section: Pro athletes, famed international musicians, empty nesters, and entrepreneurs are among the buyers. “Our residents are very independent,” says Ron Barnes, director of sales and marketing for The Residences at W Hollywood. “They have an affinity for this style of building in Hollywood and appreciate the lifestyle a comprehensive full-service building offers.”
According to Barnes, pricing for the residences ranges from $439,000 up to $3 million. The 15th-floor raw space, which the owner can build out to their own specs, went on the market during the summer. The building is LEED Silver-certified, so there are many energy-saving and sustainable building practices inherent in the project. For instance, the kitchens are outfitted with induction stovetops, and windows are double paned and insulated both for quiet and energy savings. There are luxurious elements, too. Designed by architectural firm HKS, the floor plans range from studios to three-bedrooms, and hallways have nine-foot-high ceilings, unusual for a residential building.
“For Angelenos who want to live in a more urban neighborhood, Hollywood is a great option,” says LA city council member Eric Garcetti, whose district includes Hollywood. “You can walk from where you live to your job, dining, shopping, theaters, and more. Plus, there’s easy access to public transportation.”
In the section of Hollywood Garcetti represents, 1,000 residential units were added between 2001 and 2011, and more than 2,500 units are slated for construction. Across Hollywood Boulevard, the mixed-use Blvd6200 project recently broke ground and will include retail space and 535 apartments. New clubs, bars, and restaurants are in the mix, too. South of Fountain Avenue, on a less populated section of Vine Street, near the ArcLight Cinemas, nightlife developers the 1933 Group (Bigfoot Lodge, Thirsty Crow) are opening their seventh and largest venue. “Hollywood is the center point of Los Angeles,” says Dimitri Komarov, one of 1933 Group’s co-owners. “The revitalization has made the area more attractive to business owners and is restaurant- and bar-friendly,” he says. Komarov and his partners searched for five years for the ideal spot to open Sassafras, their 3,000-square-foot Southern-themed bar offering imaginative craft and barrel-aged cocktails.
In May, up Vine Street from Sassafras, The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences opened an outdoor amphitheater and event space (utilized for Oscars Outdoors, a summer film series by the Academy) next to its film-restoration facility and archive at the Pickford Center for Motion Picture Study. The neighborhood’s vitality is also evident at the Thomas Mayne-designed LA campus for Emerson College, now under construction.
Also notable for originality: Space 15 Twenty on North Cahuenga hosts hip happenings, art events, and DJ sets on a weekly basis. “People who move to Hollywood are surprised by how great it is,” says the W’s Barnes of the very walkable neighborhood. “Everyone needs to understand how livable Hollywood has become.” For information, contact Ron Barnes, director of sales and marketing, The Residences at W Hollywood, at 213-393-1350 or visit whollywoodresidences.com.
photography by lisa maree williams/getty images (greneir); Skott Snider (SBE); jordan strauss /wire image/getty images (kutcher)