Mixed-Use, Shopping Centers Anchors of NoHo Plans By BRAD SMITH Staff Reporter When Clifford Goldstein looks at development opportunities in the eastern San Fernando Valley, he sees a puzzle. “It’s a thousand piece puzzle, and you need all the pieces to be truly successful,” said Goldstein, senior partner in the Los Angeles-based development firm J.H. Snyder Co. “But if we can pull it all together, and come to the city and the community with a plan, and we can stand up and say `we believe in this plan and it can be implemented’ than it can be a tremendous boost for the area.” J.H. Snyder is building the $190 million, 16.7-acre “NoHo Commons” mixed-use project at Chandler and Lankershim boulevards, which will include 738 residential units and 172,000-square-feet of commercial and public space designed to serve the area’s arts community. The company is also looking at a potential multi-million dollar redevelopment of the adjoining Valley Plaza and Laurel Plaza shopping centers, a few miles to the north at Laurel Canyon and Victory boulevards. That project is still conceptual, but it could include a new, centralized shopping center with three or more major anchors; a large residential development of single-family detached units, the first such project in North Hollywood in decades; and a public park to compliment the residential project or a new middle school being built by the Los Angeles Unified School District. “Our object is to create a `town center’,” Goldstein said. “This is really going to be a place that people will be drawn to, from across the Valley.” As rewarding as that prospect may be, in the larger sense the “puzzle” the city, developers, and residents are trying to put together is North Hollywood, the triangular chunk of Los Angeles tucked into the southeast corner of the San Fernando Valley. The community grew up as bastion of postwar suburbia, with its economic health guaranteed by the sprawling Lockheed Aircraft factory at Burbank Airport and the belt of film and television back lots running between Burbank and Studio City. But the loss of 20,000 manufacturing jobs when Lockheed left the Valley in the 1980s and the successes of neighboring Burbank and Glendale in capturing new development have left much of North Hollywood struggling. The Los Angeles Community Redevelopment Agency’s North Hollywood Project Area was created in 1979, and has overseen the development of the Hewlett-Packard building in 1985, the Academy of Television Arts and Sciences complex in 1991, a community shopping center in 1993, and more than 750 units of new housing. But the combination of the 1994 Northridge earthquake and the lengthy period of construction for the Red Line subway from downtown Los Angeles to North Hollywood have further delayed redevelopment in the area. “The CRA in North Hollywood has the potential of doing something but it’s taken them a long time,” said Bob Scott, a Calabasas planning consultant who has worked in the east Valley. “Between the quake and the Metro rail, you couldn’t ask for a better way to run the area into the ground.” With the completion of the subway construction and new leadership in City Hall and at the CRA, however, residents hope that is changing. “There is great potential (here) in North Hollywood and the people who live here really want to see it realized,” said Councilwoman Wendy Greuel, whose district stretches from the Santa Monica Mountains north through much of North Hollywood. “In other parts of my district, they’ll come out, but it is issue by issue. Here, it is `we want to help’ and it is for everything. ” Encouraging commercial projects The CRA has a budget of about $100 million to spend in the area over the next five years to encourage commercial development, jobs creation, and affordable housing. Along with street improvements, landscaping, and the like, the CRA has spent money to encourage affordable housing projects ranging from a single room occupancy hotel to apartment complexes. The largest single investment the agency has currently is the $15 million being put into the NoHo Commons project, adjacent to the 13 acres around the subway station. “North Hollywood has a lot of (privately-funded) investment development going on, but it is purely residential,” said David Riccitiello, the CRA’s regional manager for the East Valley projects. “We’re trying to encourage commercial and office projects, and the primary focus will be on developing the MTA property.” Those proposals include a variety of theaters, both for live performances and film; a performing arts-oriented curriculum for a new high school being built by the LAUSD; and, potentially, an animation museum. “The vision they had for NoHo was they were going to build big office buildings and big studios and they were going to make NoHo a destination in terms of big commercial development, and that’s not going to happen,” said CRA chief executive officer Bud Ovrom. “But I think North Hollywood can be a destination in terms of being a nice place to live.” That goal is the point of the redevelopment effort in the Laurel Plaza-Valley Plaza area to the north of the “NoHo” neighborhood. Snyder is negotiating with property owners in the Valley Plaza area, and has already purchased some land; the company and the city have yet to lay out the entire proposal for the Valley and Laurel plazas, however. Shopping centers Conceptually, the plan includes moving the Robinsons May department store at Laurel Plaza north and west, into the Valley Plaza area, joining an existing Sears; a Kohl’s store would join Valley Plaza’s other large anchors, including supermarkets, a multi-screen movie theater with stadium-type seating, and sit-down restaurants. The residential project would be built on the Laurel Plaza site, with a park added to either the Laurel Plaza or Valley Plaza sites. The idea is very attractive to residents who have seen both shopping centers decline over the past decade. “We’re really happy about the single family detached housing, and the idea of a park is great,” said Diann Corral, 36, a North Hollywood resident since she was 10 and a member of the Midtown North Hollywood Neighborhood Council. “It all sounds great; we just don’t want to get shortchanged.” North Hollywood -Valley Plaza/Laurel Plaza – Laurel Canyon and Victory boulevards: CRA, the J.H. Snyder Co., and property owners are in negotiations for a major redevelopment of the Valley Plaza shopping center in North Hollywood. Concept design work and negotiations are underway. LAUSD is building a middle school nearby. -Elmer Family Housing – 5600 block of Elmer Avenue: Montage Developers and the CRA are working on an 18-unit housing development on CRA-owned land. Design work is underway. -NoHo Commons – Lankershim and Chandler boulevards: CRA, the MTA, and developer J.H. Snyder are working together on a 16.7-acre mixed-use project. Construction is underway. -Lankershim/Otsego Project – Lankershim Boulevard and Otsego Street: Chandler Partners is developing the project, which will include eight units of affordable housing supported by the CRA. -Alamo Hotel Rehabilitation – 5100 block of Klump Avenue: CRA is renovating the building as a single room occupancy (SRO) hotel for very low income and homeless individuals. CRA is providing $875,000.