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Hollywood Ecomomic Development Summit

Summit Speakers Strike Positive Stance for Hollywood’s Future

The 2010 Hollywood Economic Development Summit is history and based on the feedback received from the approximately 250 attendees, it was another “home run.”
Chamber Chair Sam Smith started things out by saying it was a “season of opportunity” for Hollywood. The speakers certainly followed up on that assessment in keeping with the theme that “Hollywood is still the place.”
Reed Bowlby of the Hard Rock Café noted that Hollywood has always been on his firm’s map and that they worked for three years to find the right location on Hollywood Blvd. Nancy Sidhu, chief economist for the L.A. Economic Development Corp., gave a fascinating assessment of the entertainment industry and reported that it is the only industrial sector in the county that is adding jobs – more than 22,900 in the past year. She noted this creates some great opportunities for Hollywood.
Chris Essel, the new CEO of the Community Redevelopment Agency, said, “We’re still kicking here in Hollywood.” Essel, a long-time Paramount executive, said that she saw a real turn in philosophy at the CRA to focus on job creation and creating incentives to achieve jobs. She noted that studios would be exempted from the new Sunset Blvd. guidelines and that the plan would be tweaked to resolve concerns that are being expressed by the business community.
Drew Colquitt of Alliance Residential, that just opened the LaBelle at the Hollywood Tower, spoke on the outlook for apartments. He said that Hollywood is a coveted address for many who are living in less exciting areas, and that contributes to filling the inventory of 1,000 apartments opening this year. While we can expect some “digestion” problems over the next 12 months, that will only be temporary. The current average rent in Hollywood is about $1,650 or $2 per sq.ft.
Russ Filice of Sotheby’s, who represents the new W Residences, predicted that condo sales will achieve $1,000 a sq.ft. in Hollywood over the next 12 months. He reported that last week, a sale had been concluded at the $900/sq.ft. level. He said the demand for the Hollywood condo product was being driven by those in the 20 to 40 year age range, with a lot of discretionary income. He urged developers to begin their entitlements and to bring more inventory on line.
David Simon of Broadreach Capital Partners said there were three fundamentals in Hollywood that are very attractive: (1) it is an established location, (2) there is a uniqueness to this market, and (3) there is a rebirthing to the area. He said that while rents are down 15 percent at $2.79 a sq.ft. compared to the high of $3.27 a sq.ft., the fundamentals are there for a robust recovery. He provided an example of how his firm was able to convince CNN to remain in Hollywood by being creative to meet their needs.
Bud Ovrom, the new head of the L.A. Building & Safety Department, provided the keynote remarks. “Hollywood has always been a leader in the City’s economic development,” he stressed. “I never miss an opportunity to come to Hollywood.” He gave an overview of what is happening in the various L.A. submarkets and where the projects were that the City thinks are most promising. He noted that in the 1990s, the 134 freeway corridor seemed to be where the preponderance of development occurred. He predicted that the Red Line Subway would become the backbone of the entertainment industry in the future, and pointed to what is being proposed in Hollywood and at Universal Studios as evidence of that. He saw a great potential for new hotels in Hollywood, but said with the addition of the new W Hotel, it would be necessary to see the numbers stabilize before new hotels can move forward. He also said the Hollywood would be on the front-edge of whatever happens in the residential market. He concluded by saying that the whole City looks to Hollywood for leadership.
In addition to the speeches, a four-minute video created by the Los Angeles Film School was played to set the theme and to show the numerous new businesses that have opened in Hollywood. The school, which opened in 1999, has grown to 1,000 students in four different disciplines. Broadcaster Tracie Savage was the emcee for the event, and announced that she and her husband are also investing in Hollywood and hoping to open a new restaurant, North of Baja, at LaBrea and Hawthorn.

Movie clip presented by The Los Angeles Film School

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