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North Hollywood Transformation Nearly Complete

North Hollywood might be one of the brightest spots in Los Angeles redevelopment. Three decades ago, the area was a blighted corner of the southeast Valley, plagued by rundown storefronts and less-than-desirable housing. Now a vibrant arts center and a transit hub, the area is routinely touted as one of the era of redevelopment’s big successes. “When I first got here it was mostly auto body shops and strip clubs,” recalled Linda Fulton, owner of the Avery Schreiber Theatre on Magnolia Boulevard. “Then the arts movement came in.” But with the end of redevelopment funding, is NoHo strong enough to stand on its own? Business owners say that in many ways, redevelopment did its job in their neighborhood, and with the projects that were finished, the area should be able to move forward even without the extra money – even as they acknowledge their debt to the program. “I don’t think NoHo would be where it is today without the (Community Redevelopment Agency) stepping in and bringing business in,” said Fulton. “With redevelopment’s help, NoHo became more of a destination.” Fulton said ticket sales remain high at her theater, which she renovated in part with an $11,000 loan from the redevelopment agency. Several recent Off Broadway shows did so well they moved to other neighborhood locations to continue when their run was up, given Avery Schreiber’s full schedule. “I’m booked up all the way through June,” she said. But with the closure of the redevelopment agency office last year, neighborhood leaders say the community will have to look to other organizations, including the Business Improvement District and Chamber of Commerce. “That’s probably the best way they have to move forward and get things done with the city – with the (Business Improvement District) and the Chamber support,” said Guy Weddington McCreary, a retired chamber president and local businessman. Long-term growth The stretch of North Hollywood running along Lankershim Boulevard is a very different place today than it was when Fulton first came to the area. Trendy restaurants, theaters and the shiny NoHo Commons mixed-use complex line the thoroughfare, all the way up to the Metropolitan Transportation Authority’s Red Line and Orange Line terminus at Chandler Boulevard. While many of the redevelopment agency’s projects were done in partnership with other city agencies, locals say there is no doubt that redevelopment boosted interest in the community. “By bringing in the CRA, they had the money and support to get the city involved,” Weddington said. The massive facade renovation project along the boulevard attracted businesses that might not have otherwise moved in, and the redevelopment agency lobbied to bring mass transit to the area that made it a hub of activity, he added. Thanks in large part to grants doled out as part of redevelopment, the area gave rise to several large-scale projects in the last decade, including the NoHo Commons, which features lofts, a multiplex and shops, and was shepherded through completion by the CRA. Also, several large office projects were built including the Academy Tower at 5200 Lankershim Blvd., which recently sold to a real estate investment firm for $48 million. But now what? The city of Los Angeles has committed millions of dollars in unfinished projects through redevelopment, and most of those projects in the North Hollywood area have already been finished or begun, according to city officials. Two senior housing projects, the 49-unit NoHo Senior Villas on Klump Street and the $32 million NoHo Senior Arts Colony, were completed late last year. In its most recent request for funding, filed in October, the city had some debt obligations to move forward in the area, including some theater renovation projects. Not much else was asked for. Officials with the city’s redevelopment successor agency did not return repeated requests for comment. But business owners who regularly deal with the agency said that with dwindling staff, it has become hard to get to all their questions answered. Still, locals say there is plenty of support in place to keep the revitalization moving forward. In fact, the Metropolitan Transportation Authority announced last year that it will begin work on a long-delayed rehabilitation of a historic train depot at Lankershim and Chandler boulevards. In 2007, local business owners founded the NoHo Business Improvement District, an organization of property owners in the area who pay dues to provide street cleaning and other maintenance and security services. And the Universal City/North Hollywood Chamber of Commerce also says it will remain heavily involved in promoting the area. “It’s a loss to us, of course, because of the financial support,” said Weddington, referring to CRA. “But North Hollywood is doing well. Very well.”

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