In 1997, the Fairfax Business Association received a $330,000 grant from the city of Los Angeles to fix up the four-block stretch of Fairfax Avenue between Melrose Avenue and Beverly Boulevard.
The grant, secured with the help of then-City Councilman Mike Feuer and Mayor Richard Riordan, enabled the business association to install medians, street lighting and seating areas along Fairfax Avenue. A shiny sign welcoming visitors to Fairfax Village was erected on the median near Melrose Avenue.
The FBA, led by Jacqueline Canter of Canter’s Deli, continued the improvement efforts for years, maintaining the landscaping on the median. In 2016, Canter and the FBA received a proclamation from the city commending nearly 20 years of keeping the area beautiful.
The past five years have been another story, Canter said. Funds dried up for maintenance, and with them so did the grass and bushes on the median. After being at the center of protests last summer, graffiti remained and trash had gotten so bad, Canter organized a cleanup effort among the district’s business owners last September.
“I figured, if you want something done, you have to do it yourself,” Canter said. “You want something cleaned, you clean it yourself.”
In that same spirit, Canter also reached out to other sources for help. She was connected with Hackman Capital Partners, owner of Television City, which has spent approximately $200,000 during the past year on improvements in the surrounding community. Canter said Hackman gave the FBA $10,000 to renovate the median, which was recently relandscaped and beautified.
“No one had done anything with that median for the last five years,” Canter said. “The people who own Television City gave us the money to fix it up. I hired a gardener and my brother, Marc, fixed the sprinklers. We just did what needed to be done to make it beautiful again.”
Canter said in exchange for receiving the $330,000 grant nearly 25 years ago, the FBA agreed to maintain the median in perpetuity. That agreement precludes the city from performing maintenance and makes it the FBA’s responsibility, she said.
Canter praised Television City and Hackman Capital Partners for their generosity and desire to improve the community. She said it has provided a spark that she hopes will lead to more entities helping with other projects.
“They were wonderful. We developed a relationship and with their help, we were able to get it done,” Canter added.
Zach Sokoloff, vice president-asset manager for Television City, said they were happy to help.
“Jacqueline [Canter] is such a positive force in the community and we admire her vision and dedication to the Beverly-Fairfax District,” Sokoloff said. “This landscaping project offers a glimpse into what a beautified and improved Fairfax Avenue can look like thanks to local leaders like Jackie.”
Canter said she is trying to revive interest in the FBA, which has dwindled in membership, and hopes to unite business owners more closely to continue making the area better. She credited the office of Councilman Paul Koretz, 5th District, for rapidly having graffiti removed when notified, but would like to see more done, such as trimming the palm trees along Fairfax Avenue.
“That’s a whole other story. Those palm fronds can be dangerous when the wind blows,” Canter said. “We want to do our part, but we can’t do everything.”