They paved paradise and are putting up a shiny, undulating Frank Gehry building, apparently. Developer Townscape Partners has just announced that the starchitect will design its huge mixed-use development at Sunset and Crescent Heights on the West Hollywood/Los Angeles border, at the edge of the Sunset Strip, and on the former site of the legendary Garden of Allah, the Old Hollywood estate that allegedly inspired the Joni Mitchell song "Big Yellow Taxi" when it was torn down in 1959. (Today the site hosts a stripmall that includes a bank and a McDonald's.) The project, called 8150 Sunset, is set to have 249 apartments, about 100,000 square feet of restaurant and retail space, and lots of open areas, including a central plaza, "with an emphasis on pedestrian and bicycle access," according to a press release. Townscape has been seeking approvals for a development up to 16 stories.
The release says that Gehry has only just started designing the project, which covers two and a half acres, but plans should be released this spring for "an environmentally sensitive building that complements and contributes to the historic architecture in the neighborhood." Last year, 8150 Sunset became the first project in LA County to be designated a California Environmental Leadership Development Project, which will speed up its environmental review process and expedite legal challenges.
The Garden of Allah was built in the early Twentieth Century by Russian actress Alla Nazimova as her personal estate; it eventually became a trendy housing complex and hotel, and was home over the years to Orson Welles, Ernest Hemingway, Dorothy Parker, and Greta Garbo, before being paved over in the late '50s. A few small remnants can still be found around the stripmall.