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Open Space Starved Hollywood Breaks Ground on “Cahuenga Alley”

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Its no secret that outside of Griffith Park, Los Angeles is a city starving for open space.  There is nowhere this is more true than Hollywood, where even a weekly farmer's market is under attack because it blocks access to a parking lot.  Thus, while Hollywood waits for projects such as the Hollywood Freeway Central Park, it's important to try and create pockets of places where people can be outside in a safe and welcoming environment.

To that end, yesterday the embattled Community Redevelopment Agency, City Council President Eric Garcetti and Hollywood-area business leaders gathered to break ground on the "Cahuenga Alley" project which will turn the currently hideous alley into a clean, protected, pedestrian walkway.  The first-of-its-kind project is a sort of public-private partnership where the city will create the pedestrian plaza and local businesses will will install landscaping and decorative lighting, set up outdoor dining and patio space.  Maintenance and security will be maintained by the businesses.

...Into this. Image one: Office of Eric Garcetti. Image two: CRA

“Today 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.  It’s going to be great for business and great for Hollywood,” said Council President Garcetti through a press release.

This project is reminiscent of outdoor mall projects such as The Grove or The Promenade in Santa Monica, but the here the alley itself will remain a publicly owned street.  Businesses will create the atmosphere, but the street will be open for public use and as a thoroughfare regardless of people's dinner plans.

The lack of public access to the alley was a given reason for the project in the first place.  Back in 2008 when the project was first proposed, Curbed reported that the City Council motion authorizing the project said, "Over the years, adjacent businesses have used the public alley for private purposes and the public has been denied access to the alley. This alley should not become private space. Instead, this alley should be returned to public purposes and businesses should be required to apply for a Revocable Permit for use of this public space."

Less than three years later, the property owners couldn't be happier about opening up the space.

“The Hollywood Property Owners Alliance is proud to be part of this unprecedented partnership that is creating a new walkable, public space that will help attract more visitors to our local businesses.  This project demonstrates the innovation and creative solutions that can result when Hollywood’s business community works together with city agencies,” said HPOA Executive Director Kerry Morrison.

The city will invest $790,000 in the project through the CRA.  It is expected to open "sometime this fall."

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