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The alley that runs behind businesses on the east side of Cahuenga Boulevard is currently covered with graffiti, pockmarked with potholes and sometimes smells like rotten garbage. In a few months, the alley will be crowded with pedestrians and diners through a new project launched on May 2.
Los Angeles City Council President Eric Garcetti, 13th District, joined representatives of the Hollywood Entertainment District and local business and property owners on Monday for a groundbreaking for the project, known as the East Cahuenga Cosmo Pedestrian Alley. Modeled after the renovated pedestrian alleys in Old Town Pasadena, the rehabilitated alley off Cahuenga Boulevard will be the first such project in Los Angeles, but will likely become a model for other alleys throughout Hollywood and the rest of Los Angeles.
“We begin the Cahuenga alley’s transformation into a thriving pedestrian environment where locals and tourists alike can come to relax and enjoy our beautiful weather,” Garcetti said. “It’s going to be great for business and great for Hollywood.”
The T-shaped alley runs east and west between Cahuenga Boulevard and Cosmo Street, and north and south down to Selma Avenue. It is located behind approximately 20 businesses that have formed the Cahuenga District Coalition, which will work with the city and the Hollywood Entertainment District —which oversees the Hollywood Property Owners Alliance and the Hollywood Business Improvement District (BID) — to complete the project. Sarah MacPherson, associate executive director of the Hollywood Property Owners Alliance, came up with the idea to rehabilitate the alley in 2006 when she was a graduate student. Although the concept began taking shape several years ago, it took a considerable amount of time to bring all of the property owners on board and create a design, and to identify funding. The Community Redevelopment Agency of the City of Los Angeles (CRA/LA) is providing $790,000 for the project, which is expected to be completed in the fall.
“This is a great public-private partnership that further burnishes Hollywood’s reputation as a destination for shopping, dining, entertainment and more,” said Leslie Lambert, regional administrator for CRA/LA.
The work will be completed by the Bureau of Public Works and will include graffiti and trash removal, the resurfacing of the alley, and the installation of a drainage system that will capture runoff and use it for irrigation of new landscaping. The project will also include the installation of new lighting, and the BID will provide maintenance and security.
Julie Wong, a spokesperson for Garcetti, said the alley has a lot of problems that will be fixed, including the elimination of potholes where standing water pooled when it rained.
“Little by little, they are getting this off the ground,” Wong added.
MacPherson said the property owners will pay a fee based on the size of their properties that will be used to maintain the alley. Restaurants will be able to open patio-dining areas, and it will provide new access off Hollywood Boulevard.
“It will be a pedestrian thoroughfare between parking structures, businesses and residential areas,” MacPherson said. “The vision is for it to be a quaint, European-style alley where people can enjoy lunch or dinner.”
Carlos “Big Daddy” Adley, a Cahuenga Boulevard property owner and the owner of the Velvet Margarita Cantina, said he had been trying for years to improve the alley. The Velvet Margarita Cantina is currently the only business off the alley that has an outdoor patio.
“We are very excited about the new demographic that this is going to bring, and that we will be able to showcase the alley,” Adley said. “It will generate more energy for the entire area. We going to make it beautiful.”
Jonathan Hodges, who owns a property at Cosmo Street and Selma Avenue that currently houses Hollywood Sound Recorders, said the changes in the alley have been a long time coming.
“I have been around here a long time and remember this alley when it was a dump. I used to pick up the needles and clean up after the homeless people,” Hodges said. “Everybody is really excited about it. This is a godsend, and we are truly grateful for it.”
Kerry Morrison, executive director of the Hollywood Entertainment District, said her staff will now look into making improvements to the other 26 alleys within the district. She said each alley project requires the individual property owners to come together, and added that they would be working next on the alley that runs behind the businesses on the west side of Cahuenga Boulevard.
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