Wave Staff and Wire Reports
LOS ANGELES — Streetscape improvements along the Hollywood Walk of Fame will begin next summer, Councilman Mitch O’Farrell announced last week.
O’Farrell, whose district includes Hollywood, said his office has been working on improvements along the famed stretch of Hollywood Boulevard for the last three years. He was aided by $7.2 million in funding from the Metropolitan Transportation Authority’s Measure M program for street improvements.
“Despite the challenges brought by COVID-19, we have continued to move forward, and I’m proud to share that major upgrades are on the horizon,” O’Farrell said in a press release issued by his office. “The city’s partnership with [the MTA] will bring to life beautifully designed improvements, centered around pedestrians and transit riders, to the heart of Hollywood.”
In January 2021, the MTA board approved a total of $63.1 million for several projects, with $7.2 million set aside for the Hollywood Boulevard project.
The funding will help enhance safety and quality of life on Hollywood Boulevard, according to O’Farrell.
MTA Board Chair Ara Najarian said his agency was proud to help fund the project.
“These new improvements will not only make this iconic corridor more walkable and bikeable, they will also help [our] customer experience by improving shade at area bus stops and integrating our Next Gen approach to bus operations,” Najarian said. “I can’t wait to break ground.”
The improvements to the street include: converting the parking lane on Hollywood Boulevard, between Orange Drive and Gower Street, into an expanded pedestrian zone; designing a system of street furnishings, including bus shelters, transit kiosks, benches and tables and chairs for sidewalk dining; consolidating bus stops; and increasing space for activities including sidewalk vending, temporary art installations, music and cultural performances.
Kathleen Rawson, president and CEO of the Hollywood Partnership, described the improvements as a “game changer.”
“The place-making infrastructure will not only enhance the pedestrian experience by providing a more pleasant environment, it will also serve as a motivating factor for reinvestment in the private properties along the street,” Rawson said. “Now is the time for bold moves in Hollywood, and this project is an example of how our local leaders can make real change in the public realm for the betterment of our community.”
O’Farrell is also working on an initiative called the Hollywood Walk of Fame Master Plan, which envisions further improvements to Hollywood Boulevard that include wider sidewalks, protected bicycle lanes, additional shade trees and pedestrian safety enhancements.
As part of O’Farrell’s Heart of Hollywood initiative, the city invested approximately $4 million to kick-start the Walk of Fame Master Plan effort in June 2019 and hired a design team led by Gensler to design a vision for “a street for everyone.”
As part of a strategy of ongoing community outreach, 65 roundtable discussions have been conducted thus far, in addition to other public meetings, in-person and virtual open houses, and an online survey.
Those dialogues have empowered the community to play an ongoing role in shaping the future of Hollywood Boulevard, and the vision of a pedestrian- and bicycle-friendly Walk of Fame has been met with overwhelmingly positive support from Hollywood stakeholders, O’Farrell said.
Two design phases have been completed, with a third anticipated to begin this fall.
The city has been proactive in seeking grant funding and additional resources to fund a full construction build out of the Walk of Fame Master Plan. Through a partnership with the Southern California Association of Governments, the city is currently studying the feasibility of a possible tax increment financing district in the area, which could fund infrastructure improvements, including upgrades to the Walk of Fame as well as affordable housing and other projects.
The quick-build streetscape project will continue improvements to Hollywood Boulevard in recent years.
Since 2019 there has been new signage installed for pedestrians and motorists. In June, a project spearheaded by the Hollywood Partnership involved the lighting of 111 trees along the corridor, which has increased safety and visibility on Hollywood Boulevard.