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J.H. Snyder Loses North Hollywood Valley Plaza Site

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Last shot, Sears, isn't part of plaza After numerous failed attempts to overhaul Valley Plaza, a tired-looking mall in North Hollywood, developer J.H. Snyder has handed the 23-acre site back to lender iStar.
The New York-based commercial lender and real estate investment trust took possession of the site about two weeks ago, according to numerous sources.

J. H Snyder acquired Valley Plaza, located at the southwest corner of Laurel Canyon and Victory boulevards, more than a decade ago. Looking to restore the outdoor mall, the firm planned a $333 million make-over, one that would add department stores, restaurants, and new retail shops. Other proposals followed, and most recently, J.H. Snyder announced it was seeking to bring movie studios and sound stages to the area.

None of those plans materialized. Today, numerous storefronts remain vacant with the exception of a few stores, including a Wells Fargo, a movie theater (which only recently re-opened) and the headquarters for the Universal City North Hollywood Chamber of Commerce. “It’s not great being in the midst of an area where there’s no other tenants and no business going on,” said Victor Viereck, president of Universal City North Hollywood Chamber of Commerce.

Developer Bob Symonds built Valley Plaza in the 1940s, according to news reports, and the project remained successful until competing malls and outlets opened in surrounding areas. But with its large, surface parking lot, and lack of pedestrian-friendly features, the outdoor mall now looks like a dinosaur mall from another era.

“That’s the way malls were built,” recalls City Councilman Paul Krekorian, who attended Valley Plaza movie theater as a high school student in the 1970s. “It was the 60s and 70s, you parked outside and went in. That was the style.”

Krekorian, who represents the area, hopes that whoever takes over the mall will focus on making it “retail heavy” and employ better utilization of the nearby park front. "It is a terrific opportunity for someone who has the right vision to invest in the next generation."

Reps for iStar didn't immediately return phone calls. Calls to executives at J H Snyder, which owns commercial and retail projects across the city, weren't returned.