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Johnson Fain-Designed Columbia Square Takes a Step Forward

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The Johnson Fain-designed project proposed for the old CBS Studios complex in Hollywood took a step forward as a City Council subcommittee approved the project today, sending it to a full Council vote later this month. Proposed for 6121 Sunset Boulevard, a block bounded by El Centro, Selma, and Gower, the project--a 28 story-condo tower, a 7-story hotel tower, and a 17-story office tower--will be rise around the CBS Studios. Some of the studios will be saved and incorporated into the new project, while two studios will be knocked down (a more extensive explanation is right this way; click on images).

And in an interesting concession to groups fighting the project--including preservation group Hollywood Heritage--(*updated for clarity) developer AREA will save parts of the two studios scheduled to be knocked down and remake a building out the portions at the corner of El Centro and Sunset. "After two years of work, we have come to an agreement and support the project which will re-use and re-adapt [the site],” Brian Curran, president of the Hollywood Heritage, told the committee. Additionally, the developer scaled back the size of the project, a move which launched the Great Hollywood Height Debate.

How exactly AREA will re-make the building isn’t clear, but the stipulation will be included in the developer’s agreement. Architect Scott Johnson was present at today's hearing and said he would likely be involved in this "new" building, which would could house a production or media company.

Meanwhile, numerous locals showed up to speak out against the project, citing concerns about the long entitlement agreement (in September, developer AREA will return before the city to ask for a 15-year entitlement agreement) to worries the site will be re-sold.

Against knocking down any part of the site, Bruce Carroll, a Los Feliz resident, told the panel he was worried about the developer's "piecemeal approach" to building around the studios. "We've got a hat on a mini-mall," said Carroll, referencing the Brown Derby, which has been criticized for its neutered look.

In contrast, Mitch Menzer, attorney for AREA, told the panel that project “has a chance to be a catalyst” for Hollywood. He also denied rumors that the project will be sold. “I don’t know where those rumors are coming from.”

And no, there is no timeline for building. "The capital markets aren't conducive for a project like this right now," said Menzer.
· Edited Columbia Square Heads to Hearing [Curbed LA]
· Columbia Square Approved [Curbed LA]

Columbia Square

6121 Sunset Blvd., Los Angeles, CA