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Hollywood Sign Home to Nothing but Controversy, Indeed*

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If you read this week’s Los Angeles Business Journal story about the Trust for Public Land's attempt to buy the land near the Hollywood sign, an article based largely on an interview with Teles real estate agent Ernie Carswell, and thought, 'Wow, it's sort of strange Carswell is going off about how those 138 acres are completely undevelopable,' well, some things to know. Carswell hasn't had the listing for the Hollywood land since February 2009, the date land owner Fox River Financial took the land off the market (later, the Chicago group would enter into an agreement with the Trust on their own). "I was misquoted," Carswell tells us, insisting that he did tell the LABJ he no longer reps the land, and hasn't in more than a year. UPDATE*: LABJ reporter Richard Clough responds to Carswell: "Ernie Carswell apparently forgot to include some essential information when he and I spoke last week despite specific questions about when he began to represent the property and whether he still does. He was not misquoted." Also, Curbed should have asked the LABJ for a response to the story before publishing, and are glad they are gracious enough to give us one now.

Funnily enough, Carswell also forgot to tell us he wasn't repping the land when we interviewed him about the parcel earlier this year.

But given that if the deal with the Trust falls through, he could potentially bring a buyer to Fox on his own, so it's probably in Carswell's interest to keep himself aligned with the property and, uh, keep his name in the press.

Anyway, strange shenigans aside, we asked Carswell, why did he launch that web site, when he did have the listing, showing all those homes, if he now thinks the land is so damn undevelopable? "Because it's sexy," he said, of the site.

A rep for Fox declined to comment on the article, but the people at the Trust aren't pleased. Paige Rausser, senior project at the TFPL, says the paragraph in the LABJ story stating the Trust's 2006 deal to buy the land fell through is "factually incorrect." As for the it’s-not-developable slant being touted by Carswell, Rausser says: “The land is developable given the zoning. Ultimately, the zoning says that they can develop a residence per lot, and there are four certificates of compliance." While acknowledging a developer "can't just take lumber and go up there tomorrow," it's possible to pursue entitlements for four homes, she says. "Just because it's been undeveloped, doesn't mean it can't be. All the hillsides around it were undeveloped, too, at one point."

But at least the LABJ headline on the story was accurate: "Hollywood Sign Home to Nothing but Controversy."
· Hollywood Sign Home to Nothing but Controversy [LABJ]