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Exclusive: Huge Redevelopment Planned For Hollywood's Famous Crossroads of the World

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One of Hollywood's most recognizable landmarks is set to become part of a huge, seven-acre mixed-use development that would weave eight new buildings (including very tall hotel, apartment, and condo towers), plus tons of new retail space around Hollywood's Crossroads of the World complex. Opened in 1936 as "an International city of studios and shops," the Crossroads was intended to be a fabulous, exotic outdoor shopping center, according to an LA Times article from the same year. The complex had space for "more than a hundred shops, cafes, bazaars, and studios," but the mall-ish aspect never really took hold. The studio aspect did; today, Crossroads is mostly known for its creative office space. But this proposed redevelopment would change everything.

As these preliminary renderings show, the Crossroads complex—which is both a Los Angeles Historic-Cultural Monument and on the National Register of Historic Places—will be completely "restored to its glory," says Glenn Gritzner, a rep for developer Harridge Development Group. (Crossroads owner Mort La Kretz will continue to control the land the project sits on.) The red-tile-roofed building between the Blessed Sacrament Church and the Crossroads' signature 30-foot spire (currently offices) is planned to be revamped as a market. All the Crossroads buildings would reopen as retail space.

Looking north, with Sunset Boulevard crossing near the bottom of the rendering. The three towers are (from left to right), a hotel (with the pool), apartments (closest to Sunset), and condos (in the back by Selma).

In addition to the reintroduction of retail at the Crossroads, the project will create eight new mixed-use buildings rising on parts of the two blocks between the complex and Highland Avenue to the west, and the block immediately to the north of the complex on Selma: a 308-room, 31-story hotel, and a 32-story apartment tower and a 30-story condo tower with 950 units total (including 70 units of designated affordable housing), 95,000 square feet of office space, and a total of 185,000 square feet of retail/commercial uses (including the 60,000 square feet at Crossroads). The shorter buildings range from two to six stories tall. All the new buildings would have retail and commercial components on the ground floor; parking for the complex—2,596 total spaces—would all be underground.

A pedestrian paseo would cut through the whole of the new complex, leading diagonally from the Crossroads spire to the southwest corner of McCadden and Selma. The overhaul would also include a realignment of Las Palmas Avenue at Sunset Boulevard (where it currently jogs a bit) "to enhance connectivity and automobile and pedestrian safety," according to a project description furnished by the project reps.

The architects for the project are a combined team of Skidmore, Owings & Merrill and Rios Clementi Hale; both firms designed aspects of the project, and RCH—the firm behind Downtown's Grand Park—is the primary force behind the landscape design, says Kyndra Casper, a land use attorney representing the project.

The developers of the Crossroads reboot will be asking for height district and zone changes so they can build those 30-plus-story hotel/condo/apartment towers, as well as a conditional use permit to allow unified development, "which means you can average the density and the floor area across the development [instead of parcel by parcel]," says Casper. The massive project will take out several buildings—some commercial buildings, a few apartment buildings that predominantly house students attending the nearby Musicians Institute and Emerson College, and a few houses, says Gritzner. The apartment buildings that will be demolished are rent-controlled; the inclusion of the 70 affordable units in the project will help compensate for the loss of those apartments, he says.

Crossroads of the World was designed by Robert V. Derrah in the Streamline Moderne style, which, with its rounded edges and porthole windows, often produces buildings that look a little like cruise ships—here, Derrah actually designed one of the buildings on site with a ship shape. The other existing Crossroads buildings incorporate a variety of architectural elements—stained glass, trompe l'oeil, a lighthouse, a minaret—as noted in a 1999 LA Weekly article. They've been home over the years to the offices of F. Scott Fitzgerald, Alfred Hitchcock, Warren Zevon, and Tim Burton.

Hollywood development has been a very dicey game lately—several developers of huge projects have lost legal battles to NIMBY opposition on the basis of questionable traffic studies or even more questionable, possibly illegal demolition. "Certainly large developments like this ... do get people paying attention to them," Gritzner says, but adds that unofficial, early outreach to "people in the community" has given him the sense that people might be more open to this development than they have been to others because it will reinvigorate a historic property. (The developers haven't yet made any formal outreach to neighborhood councils.)

In this first floor site plan, blue signifies retail; orange, apartment lobby; yellow, condo lobby; red, hotel lobby; purple, creative offices.
· Crossroads of the World [Official site]

Crossroads of the World

6671 Sunset Blvd., Los Angeles, CA