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Turn the 'Hollywood' sign into a hotel?

April 13, 2010 12:00:00 AM PDT
As community groups struggle to preserve the famed Hollywood sign, one man says he wants to transform it.The city of Los Angeles owns the big white letters in the Hollywood Hills but they don't own the land behind it. The 138 acres behind the sign are owned by a private investors group out of Chicago. They've said they will develop the land unless the city steps up and buys it for $12 million.

The original "Hollywoodland" sign went up in 1923 as an advertisement for real estate. It has since become an iconic image known worldwide. In 2002, a private group purchased Cahuenga Peak above the sign for $2.2 million.

The development company originally listed the property's sale price at $22 million but has since lowered the price to $12.5 million.

A Danish architect has come up with a novel idea in case the peak stays in private hands. He wants to build a luxury hotel on the land. Guests would be able to stay inside the Hollywood sign itself. The letters would be rebuilt to include amenities like observations decks and pools.

But L.A. City Councilman Tom LaBonge, who is working closely with the Trust for Public Land, says a hotel up there is not going to happen.

"You've got the Roosevelt, you got the Renaissance, and you got the new W and a lot of places in between," LaBonge said. "We don't need a hotel on the Hollywood sign. No way, no how."

"It's one of the few landmarks that L.A. has except for the lights at LAX, that's about it," Los Angeles resident Margo Strick said. "I happen to live in a building that happens to overlook the sign right now and I think it would be a shame to, you know, get rid of that one and only landmark."

The Trust for Public Land is close to raising the $12.5 million needed to save the peak. Councilman LaBonge says he expects some big announcements and good news on Wednesday.


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