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Renaissance of Studio City East Comes With Problems

Renaissance of Studio City East Comes With Problems Guest Columnist by Jack Mcgrath Called the ugly stepsister of Studio City, Studio City East, is bounded by Colfax on the west, down to Vineland Ave. on the east. In the 50s and 60s it was dominated by flop house motels, prostitution, and a plethora of used car lots. The western portion of the area, between Laurel Canyon Boulevard and Coldwater Canyon was the high-end west side of Studio City. That reality has changed, and Studio City East is now the area to watch for growth and excitement. At the CBS Studio Center just north of Ventura, a new 75,000-square-foot four-story building and parking structure will start construction this year with completion in 2005. KCBS (Channel 2) and KCAL (Channel 9) will be moving from their Hollywood locations to the Studio City site. CBS Entertainment, the national entertainment division, will move from its New York and Fairfax-Television City offices to the new Studio City site. More than 670 highly paid individuals will call Studio City their home. The numerous restaurants, which cater to the studio crowd, will now have a new influx of affluent patrons. One restaurant, LaLoggia, is in the process of seeking city approval to provide space for small banquet parties. Their timing could not have been better. In the last 20 years, some change has come for the betterment of the east area of Studio City. Marshalls Department Store and Office Depot have enhanced the image of the commercial sector. A major shopping center anchored by a Ralphs and a Rite Aid is doing a landmark business at Vineland Avenue and Cahuenga Boulevard. A well-respected developer, who plans to construct a high-end boutique hotel in the area, similar to the hotels in West Hollywood, now has the financing in place. With the many entertainment executives from CBS, NBC-Universal, and Warner Bros., this new boutique hotel should be an instant success. In addition to this economic activity, William Hirsty, who owned a Volvo/Saab dealership in Studio City for more than 40 years, is now in the final planning stages to build a 180.000 square foot residential and commercial complex at Colfax and Ventura. Many of the new employees from CBS 2 and KCAL 9 could live there and walk a half block to work. No car, no hassle, and a dose of exercise to start off the day. But all is not rosy in Studio City. The problems Traffic and transportation are strangling Ventura Boulevard. On “honey do” day, (when the guys take care of all the chores they promised during the week) Saturday traffic is a nightmare between Laurel Canyon Boulevard and Whitsett Avenue. There are no plans to mitigate this situation, which is why more shops and retail outlets are being developed in the eastern part of the Studio City community, where there is cheaper land and less traffic congestion. The commuter traffic to downtown via Ventura Boulevard and the 101 Freeway could be reduced if people take advantage of the MTA Rapid Busway scheduled to open in 2005. A commuter could pick up a bus at Laurel Canyon and Ventura and travel to the busway at Chandler Boulevard, transferring to the Red Line Metro for a trip to Hollywood, Mid-Wilshire, or downtown. This will certainly reduce the traffic flow on Ventura Blvd., heading eastbound to Hollywood and downtown. Home prices have skyrocketed to astronomical levels. Real estate agents representing future new employees, have been knocking on doors of the Studio Village condominiums, north of CBS Studios, asking people point blank, “How much money do you want to move?” There are however, little or no affordable apartments in the area to house the working staff of restaurants and other lower wage establishments. From a den of prostitution, and used car lots, to high-end restaurants, boutique hotels, and luxurious housing, Studio City East is truly a renaissance in the making. It will continue to grow even under the very strict land use laws of the City of Los Angeles. It is going to be, in my opinion, a major media, entertainment and cultural center in the City of Los Angeles. Jack McGrath is president of the Studio City Chamber of Commerce

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