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Ten or 15 years ago, the Melrose Avenue Shopping District was the place to be in Los Angeles. Businesses were open all night and the streets were filled with people shopping and looking to have a good time. Over the last few years, the trendy district has seen empty store fronts, shuttered restaurants and an abundance of medical marijuana dispensaries. On Tuesday, the Los Angeles City Council approved the allocation of $40,000 in city funds, matching $40,000 provided by Melrose property owners to hire a consultant to help form the Melrose Avenue Business Improvement District (BID).
The process to form the Melrose BID has taken more than 18 months. The council’s approval means that the city must now approve a consultant, who will then attempt to get a consensus from the majority of property owners on Melrose Avenue to form the BID.
The Melrose BID would require Melrose Avenue property owners to pay a fee that would go toward funding improvements in the area and fill gaps in maintenance and security services the city cannot provide. Councilmember Paul Koretz, 5th District, estimated it could take a year before the BID is fully up and running.
“It is very exciting,” Koretz said. “In these difficult times it was simply an achievement to get the money together to get this going.”
Denis Weintraub has been involved with the attempt to form a BID from the beginning. He and his wife, Sylvia, own property at 7600 Melrose Ave., which houses several stores. He was pleased with the council’s decision and added that the consultant would need to obtain about 55 approvals from property owners to go ahead with the formation of the Melrose BID for a five-year period.
Don Winett, owner of the building that houses The Village Idiot and American Vintage, was also pleased with the new developments and is hopeful Melrose Avenue would return to its glory.
“Melrose, in its heyday, was like Disneyland,” Winett said. “You could take a date there and all of the businesses were open until midnight. The streets were all lit up and we would like it to return to that.”
Councilmember Koretz echoed Winett’s sentiments and hopes Melrose Avenue can get back its luster.
“Melrose, at its height, was the premiere shopping area in Los Angeles and one of the most famous in the country,” Koretz said. “We are all hoping this will help bring it back to what it used to be.”
If the majority of property owners approve the formation and funding of the Melrose BID, the work to improve the neighborhood can begin. The Melrose BID’s budget, which would be an estimated $350,000, would focus on graffiti control, security, sidewalk maintenance, better lighting and establishing better parking options for potential consumers.
“It’s important that we clean up the Melrose area,” Winett said. “Anything that makes it an area shoppers want to come to again would be great. There’s a lot that can be done to make the area much prettier, like planting trees and flowers.”
The Melrose BID’s budget will also be used for marketing and advertising aimed at drawing more people to Melrose Avenue. If the BID is formed, property owners already have a new name for the area; “Melrose Village.”
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