Old Hollywood, Make Room for the New

Hollywood Sign Suzanne DranowThe tech boom in the late 1990s and early 2000s helped launch Santa Monica’s stratospheric real estate prices and rents on office space as tech companies like Google and Yahoo vied for scarce office space, while also showing a bit of swagger that came with the bragging rights of who controlled the most square footage. Viacom and Universal entered the mix as well by relocating or expanding some of their offices to Santa  Monica. As available space in Santa Monica became harder and harder to find, the Playa Vista development stepped in, welcoming tech refugees as if it were a West coast Statue of Liberty.

Though the bursting of the bubble let economic Darwinism run its course on the original Tech Titans, the Olympians eagerly gobbled up the newly available space. Between internet companies, gaming companies and production companies, Santa Monica is well deserving of the Silicon Beach title — but that doesn’t help create more rentable square footage. And thereby hangs a revitalized Hollywood.
Different plans to revitalize Hollywood have been launched over the years, and though buildings like the Broadway Hollywood, restaurants like Katsuya, and destinations such as the W Hotel have helped give the area a patina of hipness, the sad fact is the streets are overrun by tourists hoping to get some culture by seeing “River Dance” at the Pantages. Most locals will tell you that Hollywood might be a place to visit, but they don’t necessarily want to live there. But with limited space in Santa Monica and Venice, what’s a streaming studio to do?
Enter Hollywood, redux. Because the revitalization never had a consistent stream of activity, it started and stopped many times. But when companies like Netflix and Viacom rent or purchase lots of office and studio space, developers will listen.
Projects like the adaptive re-use of Taft Building and the Caruso-esque live-work community of Eastown are targeting the very people who will soon be working in Hollywood — mainly younger people who are more adaptive themselves when it comes to trendy new areas. The adaptation of and remodeling of the older buildings provides live-work spaces, with the mixed-use retail/dining/residential cocktail that almost insures the success of a neighborhood as there is always someone who needs to rent some sort of space.
With Netflix and Viacom doubling down on the area, more entertainment (and associated industry) companies are sure to follow. So as the area where you work becomes more livable, why not live there? 

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