Built in 1939 in the Hollywood Regency style,
The Selma Las Palmas Courtyard Apartments in Hollywood has 80 units, each slightly different from the next. The moldings, tiling, and decorative woodwork vary from one unit to the next, though most still have tall, multi-pane windows and antique doorknobs. Well maintained common areas define the complex: two central gardens and wide, decoratively tiled entrances opening onto Las Palmas. The gardens encourage a type of community that has become increasingly difficult to find in a large metropolitan area like Los Angeles over the decades.
Developer Ben Weingart intended the Courtyard Apartments to house the working class and middle class of the nearby film studios - specifically the former Columbia Studios property at Sunset and Gower. In fact, the building dates from a time that evokes nostalgia today - when architects, planners and developers sought to create housing for working urban families that was not only affordable, but also beautiful and desirable.
Although Weingart sold most of his properties soon after development, he retained the courtyard apartments along with several Skid Row hotels that he had converted into low-income apartments until his death in 1980. They were for the developer who he was personally significant considered himself civic-minded and saw these buildings as contributing to his vision for quality, low-income urban living. His family eventually sold the property. Today, more than half of the rental units at Selma Las Palmas Courtyard Apartments stand vacant, the result of a state law that allows landlords to evict tenants from rent-controlled units for a small moving fee, typically when those buildings face demolition for new construction.
After the courtyard apartments have been demolished, they will soon be replaced by a mixed-use, controversial luxury development with several glass skyscrapers. The 1.4 million square foot project, called Crossroads Hollywood, will include a 308-room hotel, 190,000 square feet of retail, restaurant and office space, and 950 luxury apartments. There will also be at least 105 affordable housing units - for which the city is offering financial incentives to developers - and possibly more, depending on the outcome of negotiations with evicted tenants, in concession for the 82 rent-stabilized units the project will destroy.
Three tenants of Selma Las Palmas have sued the project's developer, Harridge Development Group, along with real estate developer Morton La Kretz, who bought the popular nautical-style office complex, Crossroads of the World, in 1977. He acquired many of the surrounding properties in the 1990's. (La Kretz is now in his 90s, and his daughter Linda Duttenhaver runs his development company.) Tenants are waiting to see if they can live in the new development that will replace their homes, and the Crossroads Tenants Association, formed by tenants of the building, has also filed a separate complaint against the developer, alleging defamation and coercion.
On the surface, the Crossroads Hollywood project is no different than other colossal mixed-use developments garnering approval from left and right across the city. But the destruction it threatens to leave in its wake is particularly dramatic considering that three of the five buildings it will either demolish or relocate, to reassure preservationists, have been classified as historically significant. One of the few buildings that survives is the 1931 complex that owes its name to this new development: The Crossroads of the World, a quaint office and retail plaza often credited as the country's first open-air mall ( although the Mercantil Arcade in downtown L.A. opened earlier). It is famous for being crowned by a red and blue sphere, which looms over the central building with its charming blue awning like a miniature space needle.
This popular square will become the centerpiece of the numerous glass skyscrapers that will surround it on all sides. But many of the surrounding buildings will not survive. Between 2017 and 2018, the Cultural Heritage Commission — made up of architects and preservationists appointed by Mayor Eric Garcetti — recommended five of the buildings in the Crossroads Hollywood footprint for Historic Cultural Landmark status: the Hollywood Reporter Building, the Talbot-Woods Craftsman Duplex style, an immaculately preserved 1910 bungalow, the Selma Las Palmas courtyard apartments and the 1920's Bullinger building (although developers are still considering incorporating aspects of the Bullinger).
In their overlapping struggles for affordable housing and monument preservation, otherwise diverse activists have turned to the historic cultural monument nomination process as a last resort to preserving infrastructure, and therefore housing. This form of coveted city status designates a building as historically or culturally significant. But beyond that, it also became a political tool to slow and even stop the demolition. However, there is one major hurdle: once the commission recommends a building, the nomination goes to the city council's Planning and Land Use Management (PLUM) Committee, which makes the final decision.
In November 2017, the PLUM committee voted to grant landmark status to the circa 1937Hollywood-ReporterBuilding (also the former home ofLA weekly), which flow into the new development as a result. But almost a year later, at a hearing in August 2018, the four other nominated buildings were denied landmark status, with the PLUM committee taking a dismissive, superficial stance that surprised even veterans of historic preservation. For example, when presenting the 1910 Major Kunkel Bungalow, senior urban planner Ken Bernstein explained that its original owner had served as the city's first air pollution control officer and later spearheaded efforts to measure and control air pollution from automobiles. Other cities in the United States and Canada sought his guidance in developing their own pollution control policies. "Yeah, I've never heard of Major Kunkel," Councilor Bob Blumenfield said. "I mean, everyone is part of the story." Bernstein again explained the air pollution and smog problem in Los Angeles, but Huizar was quick to decline the nomination.
Just three months after the controversial Crossroads hearing, council member Jose Huizar resigned as longtime chairman of the Planning and Land Use Management Committee (PLUM) amid an ongoing FBI probe into his dealings with developers. He is said to have accepted at least $1.5 million in bribes from developers in exchange for approving their projects. In late June, he was arrested on federal racketeering charges and removed from the city's payroll. With that added layer of corruption and obfuscation, the story of the Crossroads Hollywood project - which is at the center of a struggle for affordable housing, historic preservation and luxury development - becomes as eerie and unsettling as an LA noir.
To historians and monument conservators,
The historical value of the original properties surrounding Crossroads of the World is clear. Richard Adkins, collections manager and former president of the Hollywood Heritage Museum, calls the objects "endangered holdings." He points out that the craftsman bungalows and duplex in the project's plan were built in the 1910s, around the time the City of Los Angeles annexed what was then the independent city of Hollywood. He also notes that PLUM often does not endorse the recommendations of the Heritage Commission, even though the commission was established in 1962 to curb the city's ongoing habit of tearing down its own history. "The big concern is that the work of one city authority will be undermined by another," says Adkins.
But the quest for historical monument status isn't always just about preserving history. Increasingly, the Heritage Commission is hearing from people seeking historical cultural status for another reason: they fear losing their homes to new developments. "It's clearly about preserving the homes as well as preserving the historical resources," notes architect Gail Kennard, a member of the commission that voted to save the buildings threatened by the Crossroads Hollywood Project. "I'm not against growth. But how can we do this in a way that is less disruptive to middle- and low-income people? That is the question we need to grapple with.”
Miki Jackson, an affordable housing advocate and advisor to the AIDS Healthcare Foundation, which has a reputation for trying to use historic preservation and adversarial litigation to thwart new developments, is more blunt. “The topic of historic buildings has been around for a long time. The real estate crisis is more recent,” she says. “I advocate building really affordable housing. I don't think luxury housing hurts the working class.”
The number of buildings at risk of development has skyrocketed over the past two decades, making the nomination process for historical monuments both more urgent and uncertain. Margot Gerber, President of the Art Deco Society, which helped preserve two of the buildings on the Crossroads development path, recalls how much easier the historic nomination process was in the 1980s and 1990s. "Because there was so much land in Los Angeles for so long, people were like, 'Okay, you want to nominate this building,'" she says, explaining that monument status was usually granted. "Nobody cared."
Historian Anna Marie Brooks has observed the process becoming increasingly hostile. "It's just hell now," she says. She recalls Councilor Ed P. Reyes, who chaired PLUM until 2013, as being a little more receptive to approving those milestones: "At least you felt like you had half a chance." But Huizar, the chair from 2013 to 2018, " let nothing through,” she says.
Huizar's rise to the helm of PLUM has coincided with an increase in the number of HCM nominations and a decrease in the percentage of those nominations actually approved. From 2010 to 2012, the Commission received an average of 24 applications per year, with 72 percent of the 2012 applications being approved. But during Huizar's five-year tenure, the commission received an average of 37 applications a year, of which about 67 percent were finally approved. A development boom in the same period made the denials all the more acute.
More importantly, the nominations PLUM has rejected in recent years have been disproportionately linked to new development or redevelopment projects. In 2018, for example, eight of the ten rejected nominations were comprehensively renovated or were at risk from planned developments. Huizar also reportedly had backroom meetings with a number of developers interested in altering or demolishing historic buildings during his tenure.
The councilor's involvement with developers has long cast a shadow over his leadership. On October 22, 2018, Mayra Alvarez, a former employee of Huizar, sued the councilor for harassment, retaliation and discrimination. Their complaint alleged that Huizar frequently asked them to change its official calendar - which is public knowledge - to skip its meetings with developers and lobbyists, particularly when their projects or concerns were soon to come before PLUM.
Huizar called Alvarez's claims "nonsense," although subsequent wrongful termination lawsuits filed against him by other former employees suggest a similar pattern of improper donations and attempts to extort money or solicit bribes.
But far more scathing allegations against Huizar surfaced when the FBI began filing its own indictments in the spring of 2020. First came federal charges against political fundraiser Justin Jangwoo Kim, who allegedly negotiated $300,000 in bribes for Huizar. Then George Esparza, a former Huizar aide, agreed to plead guilty to allegedly helping Huizar extort money from developers planning projects in L.A. - and funneling much of that money to a political action committee that was set up to help Huizar's wife, Richelle Huizar, win his seat once he was sacked.
Although Huizar resigned from all committees after FBI agents raided his home and office in November 2018, he did not resign. His colleagues waited until he was arrested over a year and a half later, in late June this year, before voting to expel him from the council. The DOJ filed a 116-page affidavit, complete with a two-page table of contents and photos of illicit money stuffed into boxes and various crevices -- like Australian currency oozing out of a car's center console, while a printout of the schedule of the Councilors of Huizar is propped up behind the gear shift. The currency came from cashed out casino chips given to Huizar by a real estate developer who financed the trip to Australia and other trips to Vegas casinos. The same developer who helped the councilman secure $570,000 to settle a sexual harassment lawsuit received a litany of favors in return, most notably paving the way for a 77-story downtown tower.
Councilor Herb Wesson, who described Huizar as "like my brother, my best friend on the council" when Huizar faced a sexual harassment lawsuit in 2013, took over as chair of PLUM after Huizar's resignation. But he, too, was involved in development-related scandals.
A search warrant filed by FBI agents in late 2018 sought information related to bribery and extortion between city council employees and businessmen involved in the redevelopment of the downtown Luxe Hotel. Adjacent to the Staples Center, the Luxe has hosted campaign events for several local politicians, including council members Herb Wesson and Monica Rodriguez. If theLA timesWesson and Rodriguez asked why they didn't pay Luxe to host these events, both disagreed, saying they just never got billed. City Council committees had reviewed proposals and motions from the Luxe's new owner in 2015, 2017 and 2018.
The preservationist Richard Schave, together with his employee and wife, the LA chronicler Kim Cooper, has been following the alleged corruption of the town hall for years and no longer finds such transactions surprising. "Developers want to be able to have no rules at all and be able to easily choose from lots where they can get large sums of money to build on," says Schave. "I'm an incredibly positive person, but it's really cold coffee," he added, referring to the planned Crossroads Hollywood demolitions. He and Cooper, who run the historically savvy sightseeing company Esotouric, have long been planning a Jose Huizar bus tour of locations affected by the councilman's alleged corruption and are waiting to start it until Huizar is indicted. Even if Crossroads Hollywood isn't there, there will be similar controversial developments.
The impact of the new development of Crossroads Hollywood
the tenants of the Selma-Las Palmas Courtyard Apartments have already felt it the most. A small group of residents who appeared before the PLUM committee during the 2018 nomination hearing each argued that the courtyard promoted community in ways the new development never could. "It's just something that gives you peace of mind," said Aura Valenzuela, who lived there with her mother and young daughter, referring to the shared central garden. Kevin Atteberry, who has lived there for almost two decades, remarked that unlike the courtyard apartments, "today's apartment design is very isolating".
The residents, who formed their own tenants' association a year before the hearing, continued to meet regularly after the failed HCM proposal, appearing at city council meetings, and attending protests and press conferences sponsored by the L.A. Tenants Union and the Coalition to Preserve L.A. were sponsored. oppose the development. But in January 2019, when the Crossroads Hollywood project received the final city council approvals it needed to move forward, tenant priorities shifted from resistance to negotiation. They wanted to make sure they not only had suitable buyout offers — Harridge reportedly offered tenants discounted rents early on that were less than the minimum they should have been offered under the Ellis Act — but also a right of return once the new development was complete.
Around the same time, the AIDS Healthcare Foundation filed a lawsuit against the city. In it, they alleged that the city council approved an environmental impact report for Crossroads Hollywood that did not adequately address the project's likely impact on traffic, air quality and neighborhood residents. The tactic backfired, at least in the eyes of some tenants, who felt they were making progress in negotiations for a temporary move during construction and a 36-month payout. They say the lawsuit has further strained their negotiations with Harridge.
During the AHF lawsuit, Harridge threatened to pull out of the negotiations, and after the AHF complaint was dismissed, the company notified tenants that it would cease negotiations, discarding many previously agreed protections and only accepting Ellis Act evictions and would offer a right of return. (When the city approved the Crossroads project, it mandated that evicted tenants be offered a "right of first refusal" on apartments in the new building priced no more than their current rent.) "We feel like we're in lien used between AHF and the developer,” says tenant Darrin Wilstead, a director of the Crossroads Tenants Association.
On August 29, 2019, Harridge representatives met with the Crossroads Tenants Association and offered them chicken sandwiches and tamales before explaining the new terms of the Ellis Act eviction notices that tenants had already received. As Bill Meyers, a member of Harridge's development team, explained, tenants would have 120 days to vacate, although this could be extended to 240 days for elderly, disabled or tenants with children; You would receive at least $11,125. They would also soon receive a "right of return" agreement, allowing rent-controlled tenants to move into the new development at the current rate, which they would have to sign and return within 45 days.
When these arrangements arrived, they were far less flexible than tenants had hoped. The agreements stipulated, among other things, that the "Owner may abandon the Crossroads project at any time," thereby ending all promises made to tenants, and that tenants who have signed will not disparage the Owner or "sue, dispute, or dispute administratively." , judicial or public.” They also had to agree not to cooperate “directly or indirectly” with anyone else suing, contesting, or contesting the project.
That seemed like a muzzle to many tenants. Jaime Sanchez, a resident of the building, returned the agreement with several terms crossed out and a letter attached. "If a successful first refusal plan has been established with the tenants, then I consider the condition met," he wrote. Two other tenants, Daniel Hernandez and Rosemary Fajarait, also opposed the agreement but sent letters to Harridge stating their intention to return to the new development. Neither Hernandez nor Farjarait listened back.
Last December, the Los Angeles Tenants Union Hollywood Local filed a lawsuit against Harridge with Sanchez, Hernandez and Fajarait as joint plaintiffs. It claimed not only that the developer violated city terms, but that it acted negligently and unlawfully by pressuring tenants to move out before ensuring they knew what protections and compensation they were entitled to after the Los Angeles Municipal Code and the Los Angeles Rent Stabilization Ordinance.
This was the first time in the union's five-year history that it had filed a lawsuit against a developer. "Usually the threat of a union lawsuit was enough," says Susan Hunter, the union clerk who supports Crossroads tenants. She sees the lawsuit as a way to "acknowledge that we cannot continue to squeeze tenants out of rent-controlled housing in order to build luxury housing that the majority of workers in this city cannot afford."
Harridge's law firm, DLA Piper, responded by arguing that the right-of-return agreement was actually approved by City Council District 13, Mitch O'Farrell's district, and therefore the lawsuit was without merit. In March of this year, Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Barbara M. Scheper dismissed the case, saying plaintiffs should sue the city instead of the developer.
The plaintiffs filed their appeal request in late March, just days before the Crossroads Tenants Association filed its own lawsuit against the developer in L.A. Superior Court. Her allegations include defamation (last year a representative for Harridge said theLA Timesthat the tenants had tried to sell their right of return, a claim the tenants dispute), coercion and an unscrupulous contract. They're not sure if anything will come of the lawsuit, but they wanted their experience publicly documented.
All of this happened amidst a surreal landscape: a home-accommodation ordinance was enacted to stem the spread of COVID-19, unemployment skyrocketed, the tenants' union urged city council members to better protect tenants, as new details by the FBI The investigation into City Hall corruption has been suspended almost weekly.
For now, the nearly 40 families still living in the courtyard are waiting to see if the virus will affect their move out in August and if they will ever return to the place that once formed the nexus of their community once they leave. "We all think it's a nice idea to be able to come back, but there are some doubts about whether the project will ever be completed," says Wilstead. "Ultimately, finding a new home in the midst of a pandemic and financial crisis is daunting."
This article appears in Vol. 2, Issue 2 ofThe country.Click here to pre-orderyour copy.
Its importance as a beloved historic monument was recognized by the California Senate and the City of Los Angeles, and by those who lived, worked and visited in Hollywood. Today, Mr. La Kretz continues as the active owner and manager of Crossroads of the World.What is the crossroad of the world? ›
Designed by local architect Robert V. Derrah, Crossroads of the World is one of Los Angeles' most recognizable properties. The Hollywood complex was completed in 1936 and conceived as a cosmopolitan shopping center featuring merchandize from around the globe.Who is the king of the crossroads? ›
The Ruler of the Crossroads is a title which denotes the demon who holds it as the commander of all crossroad demons. Depending on the gender of the demon in question, it may be known either as the King of the Crossroads if it is male or as the Queen of the Crossroads if it is female.Who is the god of the crossroads? ›
Legba represents a West African and Caribbean Voodoo god. This god has many different names depending on the region in which he is worshipped is most commonly known in Haiti as Papa Legba.What does the crossroads of life mean? ›
What it Means to Be At a Crossroads in Life. To be at a crossroads is a point in your life where you have to make a decision. This decision will determine which path you will take. Crossroads can be positive or negative. They can be a time of opportunity or a time of crisis.What is considered the crossroads of America? ›
U.S. Highway 40, the old National Road which opened the west for settlement, and U.S. Highway 41, a major north-south route, were designated part of the original federal highway system in 1926. Their intersection in Terre Haute at Wabash Avenue and Seventh Street became the "Crossroads of America."What are examples of crossroads in life? ›
Personal or family circumstances can also catapult us into a crossroad, such as when a spouse or partner gets a new job in another city and you are forced to find a new job. Other examples include an illness in the family, financial challenges, or a troubling personal relationship.What color are demon eyes? ›
The color of a demon's eyes denotes their status and rank in Hell's hierarchy. Black-eyed demons are Supernatural's standard sort. The oldest, most powerful demons like Lilith and Alastair possess white eyes, while Princes of Hell all have the infamous yellow tint that John Winchester saw the night his wife died.Who is the crossroad demons boss? ›
|Family||Rowena MacLeod (mother) Gavin MacLeod (son)|
“Thus says the Lord: Stop at the crossroads and look around you. Ask for the ancient paths, where the good way is, and walk in it. You will find rest for your souls.”
Clarksdale, Mississippi: Devil's Crossroads
A trio of electric guitars on a pole marks where legend says that musician Robert Johnson sold his soul to the Devil for the ability to play the blues. Directions: At the corner of Hwy 322/N. State St.
(Norse mythology) Thor, god of thunder.Who is Crossroads dedicated to? ›
"Tha Crossroads" is a song written and performed by hip hop group Bone Thugs-n-Harmony, released as a single in April 1996. The song is dedicated to the group's mentor, the late gangsta rap icon Eazy-E, and other family members.Did Disney buy Crossroads? ›
The state acquired the Crossroads plaza in a $198 million agreement that's considered the largest eminent domain settlement in Florida's history, the lead attorney representing Crossroads' owner has said. The Crossroads was built by Disney then changed hands over the years.Is Crossroads American or British? ›
|British English ↕||American English ↕|
|crossroads||intersection; crossroads (rural)|
|cupboard||cupboard (in kitchen); closet (for clothes etc)|
In the revival, Jill Harvey owned thirty percent of the hotel, which was never explained as she had divested all her interest in the hotel in 1985 and the original series ended with her opting not to buy the hotel back with her estranged husband Adam Chance.Who is the demon at the crossroads? ›
The archetypal deal making crossroads demon may be Mephistopheles, now famous from many portrayals in media, but originally a German folkloric character from the legend of Faust (whose name gives us Faustian bargain).Who is America's motto crossroads? ›
Indiana's state motto is The Crossroads of America.Who originally did crossroads? ›
"Cross Road Blues" (also known as "Crossroads") is a blues song written and recorded by American blues artist Robert Johnson in 1936. Johnson performed it as a solo piece with his vocal and acoustic slide guitar in the Delta blues-style.
- Lake Buena Vista,
- southwest Orlando.
– The Crossroads shopping center is set to be demolished. The shopping center used to be owned by Disney World.Why is Crossroads closing? ›
Lane, Crossroads and Beme, has seen a significant drop in store traffic and revenue. "The Group is working with its business partners and is reviewing its cost of doing business, with a view to reducing costs to match expected revenue.Does Travis Barker own crossroads? ›
Crossroads expands vegan restaurant empire
One of Kravis' top restaurant picks, Crossroads Kitchen, is actually backed by Barker and owned by celebrity chef Tal Ronnen.
“Thus says the Lord: Stop at the crossroads and look around you. Ask for the ancient paths, where the good way is, and walk in it. You will find rest for your souls.”
Thank you for subscribing! A Crossroads spin-off is coming to ITV in 2022 in the form of Nolly - starring Helena Bonham Carter. The Harry Potter actress will star as Crossroads legend Noele Gordon in a three parter next year.How much did the Crossroads Hotel sell for? ›
The Crossroads Hotel in the south-western Sydney suburb of Casula has been sold for $160 million in the largest Australian pub deal to date.Is Sandy from Crossroads still alive? ›
His absence and death were never mentioned in Crossroads until the final episode featuring his character's mother, when she revealed that Sandy had died some time earlier.