Developers and politicians in L.A. are stealthily moving forward with plans to build a skyscraper in the heart of Hollywood -- a 40-story project that would tower high over existing development in the area.
"If everything went according to plan, Columbia Square would be the largest and most expensive mixed-use project ever in the area. And much of the groundwork and lobbying would be over long before the general public heard a thing about it."
"In keeping with the underground nature of the towering project, which would forever alter the skyline and obscure the Hollywood sign for thousands of people, the official Web site for Columbia Square - 6121sunset.com - says almost nothing, other than hailing the plan as 'a classic Hollywood landmark updated for the 21st century.' A few futuristic drawings are posted, and there's a standard mission statement of sorts, but the 'project facts' section is gibberish, an alien code not intended to encourage civic debate."
"Molasky Pacific and its partner, Apollo Real Estate Advisors, obviously want it this way. In Los Angeles, where developers have long held sway over a 15-member City Council that rarely says no to massive new projects, it is key to keep the public out of it as long as is legally possible. And it's why loose-tongued people like Chris Shabel can be dangerous - secret, ugly truths may rile the public and stir up political problems for the council members, each of whom oversees one of 15 separate, incredibly influential fiefdoms and who all but control the lay of the land."
"Although a 40-story skyscraper will dramatically alter the Hollywood skyline, pull far more cars into an area that's essentially inaccessible at rush hour, and loom incongruously over a historic district of early-20th-century homes, casting it into shadow most of the year, there hasn't been much outcry."
"None of the neighborhood people seems to realize the builder seeks to repeal a protective 45-foot height limit on the block, switching it to a 'no-limit' district."