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Tuesday, February 9, 2010

[release] View of Hollywood Sign to Be Protected

Here's the TPL press release on the RKO property:

View of Hollywood Sign to Be Protected

LOS ANGELES, Feb. 9 (AScribe Newswire) -- The view of the world-famous Hollywood Sign will be protected by purchasing Cahuenga Peak, the 138 acres behind and to the left of the sign which could have been developed into luxury homes, The Trust for Public Land (TPL) announced today.

"With the support of donors such as The Tiffany & Co. Foundation, TPL and its partners are in a campaign to raise a total of $12.5 million by April 14," said Sam Hodder, California State Director for TPL. After the purchase, which will cost $11.7 million, the land will be added to Griffith Park, the nation's 4th-most-visited park.  "The Hollywood Sign is one of America's iconic views and that view would be ruined forever if estates are built behind it," said Hodder, as he and TPL's partners announced a two-month campaign to raise the remaining $6.2 million needed to complete the purchase from a group of Chicago investors.
TPL's exclusive option to buy Cahuenga Peak expires April 14. If the funds aren't raised to protect it, the property will go back for sale on the open market (For details, visit .) Some of Hollywood's biggest stars have also agreed to lend their support to the campaign including Julia Louis-Dreyfus ("New Adventures of Old Christine"), Academy Award Nominated Actress Virginia Madsen, Tippi Hedren, John Slattery ("Mad Men"), Aisha Tyler (FOX's "24"), Julian McMahon (FX's "Nip/Tuck"), James Kyson Lee ("Heroes"), Beau Garrett ("Fantastic Four") and Katherine Morris (CBS's "Cold Case"). "This is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to purchase a spectacular property in the middle of one of our biggest cities. Opportunities like this simply do not come along very often," Hodder said.

The land was purchased by industrialist Howard Hughes in 1940 to build a home for movie star Ginger Rogers, his intended bride. When that relationship ended, Hughes kept the land, and in 2002, his estate sold it to the investors who now own it. Two years ago, they put it on the market for $22 million, but it hasn't sold. It is zoned for four homesites. "Two things - the larger-than-life name HOLLYWOOD against the pristine rugged mountain make this world-famous landmark a symbol of ingenuity and hope to millions of people. Every day, I see tourists posing for snapshots in Beachwood Canyon just below the sign," said Los Angeles City Council member Tom LaBonge, chair of the City Council's Arts, Parks, Health and Aging Committee, whose district includes Cahuenga Peak. "The City of Los Angeles wants to acquire this land, not only to maintain the view of the Hollywood Sign, but also to preserve open space, hiking trails and wildlife corridors for the future health of our great city."

"The Tiffany & Co. Foundation works to protect historically, environmentally and culturally significant sites throughout the United States," said Michael Kowalski, chairman and CEO, Tiffany & Co. "As one of Los Angeles's most treasured and historic green spaces, the Hollywood Sign and the surrounding park area is clearly deserving of the Foundation's support. Like Tiffany & Co., the Hollywood Sign is an icon of American glamour and ingenuity that not only inspires, but also brings joy to visitors from around the world. On behalf of The Tiffany & Co. Foundation, we are honored to play a leadership role in preserving this important piece of Los Angeles's rich heritage."

Jon Kirk Mukri, general manager of the Los Angeles Department of Recreation and Parks, said, "Griffith Park is an urban oasis with recreational opportunities that make the park such a glorious part of Los Angeles. There are many things to do, see, enjoy, and appreciate in this expansive area, with more than 4,200 acres. The Hollywood Sign, perhaps the most recognizable nine letters to grace a hillside in the world, is part of Griffith Park and it is important that the view of the sign as well as the spectacular views and trails of Cahuenga Peak be preserved."  Joseph T. Edmiston, Executive Director of the Santa Monica Mountains Conservancy, said, "Cahuenga Peak, while surrounded by urbanization and freeways, supports a remarkably intact ecosystem of native chaparral plants and animals seemingly unaffected by ecological isolation. The property provides an unparallel natural experience in the eastern Santa Monica Mountains."  Chris Baumgart, Chairman of the Hollywood Sign Trust, said, "The Hollywood Sign Trust applauds the efforts of Councilman Tom LaBonge and The Trust for Public Land for their initiative to purchase the 138 acres of land known as Cahuenga Peak, and secure it for the City of LA as permanent open space. Since 1923, this adjoining land has been an integral part of the world-famous view of the international icon of the entertainment industry."
Besides TPL and LaBonge, the partnership includes the Hollywood Sign Trust, the Santa Monica Mountains Conservancy, Mountains Recreation and Conservation Authority, the Los Angeles Department of Recreation and Parks, the Los Angeles Parks Foundation and the Hollywood Chamber of Commerce.