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The owner of Molly’s Burgers at the corner of Vine Street and Selma Avenue in Hollywood will receive a $1.1 million settlement to relocate from the property.
The settlement clears the way for the property to be developed into an eight-story office building with ground level retail space. Known as “1601 Vine Street”, the development by Pacifica Ventures would replace a surface parking lot and the burger stand, which has been at the site since 1929 but has changed owners and been upgraded many times over the years.
The future of Molly’s Burgers had been at the forefront of a dispute over the property since 2007. The lot is owned by the Community Redevelopment Agency of the City of Los Angeles (CRA-LA), which is selling it to Santa Monica-based Pacifica Ventures with the stipulation that the office tower is built. Kwok Li, the owner of Molly’s, fought the relocation on the basis that the burger stand is historically significant because it is an example of roadside diners that were common in the area in the 1920s. Li, who could not be reached for comment, hired attorney Robert Silverstein, who negotiated the settlement. Silverstein also did not return calls.
According to Leslie Lambert, regional administrator for the Hollywood and Central Regions for the CRA-LA, terms of the settlement call for Pacifica Ventures to pay $700,000, and the CRA-LA to pay $400,000. Li will receive an initial payment of $500,000 in the next couple of weeks, according to Lambert, and will have six months to vacate the site, after which she will receive the balance of the money. The settlement also precludes her from filing any future lawsuits, Lambert added.
Lambert said Li was offered a new space in the office building, and was shown several alternate locations in Hollywood, but declined the offers. It is unknown whether Molly’s will move or be shuttered for good.
“We have spent an inordinate amount of time studying other spots,” Lambert added. “It’s been a long process.”
The hamburger stand was originally called “Mom’s” and part of a gas station that was once located at the site. According to an environmental impact report on the development, the stand would not qualify for historic status because it was upgraded and changed many times. Brian Curren, president of Hollywood Heritage, added that his organization also does not believe it qualified as historic.
The development is considered to be part of Hollywood’s revitalization, and will be the latest project on Vine Street, where the W Hotel and Residences, the Sunset and Vine Tower and several retail projects have been completed. Lambert said Pacifica Ventures is currently in the process of securing financing for the project, but said she is optimistic that there will not be any further stumbling blocks to prevent it from going forward. The building will be geared towards companies in the entertainment industry.
“It’s a type A office building around 100,000 square feet, the first to be built in Hollywood in many years,” Lambert added. “We want entertainment-related businesses in there and retail. It’s part of the plan to bring businesses and retail back to Hollywood.”
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