While the W Hotel and Residences have transformed the northeast corner of Vine Street and Selma Avenue, a controversy is brewing across the street over plans to build an office tower at the northwest corner of the intersection.
Part of the controversy surrounds the future of Molly’s Burgers, which may be relocated as part of the new project. The Los Angeles City Council has postponed making a decision until next Tuesday on the project, which would include an eight-story office tower and retail space. Known as “1601 Vine Street”, the development would replace a surface parking lot and Molly’s Burgers, and is designed to revitalize one of the last remaining sections of Vine Street in the area that has not yet been developed.
Few people involved with the project would comment or provide information, including officials from the Community Redevelopment Agency of the City of Los Angeles (CRA-LA), which owns the land and is proposing a sale to Pacifica Ventures, a Santa Monica-based development company. What is certain is the project is supported by Los Angeles City Council President Eric Garcetti, 13th District, who believes it is one of the next steps in the overall revitalization of Hollywood, according to his deputy, Yusef Robb.
The new building would include approximately 112,000 square feet of office space, and approximately 2,000 square feet of ground floor retail space. It would also be a LEED certified environmentally-friendly structure and would include 194 parking spaces in a subterranean garage.
According to a report to the city council by the CRA-LA, Pacifica Ventures would purchase the land for the below-market price of $825,000 in exchange for leasing 60 percent of the building to entities in the entertainment industry. Mary Nemick, a spokesperson for the CRA-LA, said there would be no comment about the project until the city council makes a decision.
The CRA-LA plans to relocate Molly’s Burgers. Owner Kiok Yi also declined to comment on the project, but has retained an attorney who has claimed the hamburger stand is historically significant because it is an example of early roadside diners. The attorney, Robert Silverstein, also did not return a call for comment.
The hamburger stand was originally called “Mom’s” and was part of a former gas station that was built at the site in 1929. The stand has been upgraded over the years, and the gas station is gone. According to an environmental impact report on the project, the stand would not qualify as a historic resource because much of the structure was added on over the decades.
Brian Curran, vice president of Hollywood Heritage, also said his organization does not believe Molly’s is eligible for historic status, and he has not become involved in the planning process. Curran added that Hollywood Heritage is supportive of revitalizing Hollywood as long as it does not disrupt the historical character of the area.
“We are obviously always happy to see infill development, but there is a debate right now about whether this one has any historic significance.”
Representatives of Pacific Ventures did not return calls for comment, but earlier reports have stated that the company would be willing to consider having Molly’s as a tenant in the retail component of the building. City officials and others may be holding back on discussing the project further so as to not jeopardize any negotiations that are ongoing. The city council will first consider the financing for the project, which will then need to receive entitlements.
“There has been discussion on what to do with the burger joint, and there may be some big news on that in the near future,” Robb said. “Right now, it has been continued to next Tuesday.”
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