Developer Sonny Astani plans a $100-million project in Hollywood that includes a building where swordplay was taught to Errol Flynn, Basil Rathbone and others.
Source :: Los Angeles Times
Date :: 10.29.2012
By ::Roger Vincent
A $100-million apartment and shopping complex is being planned for a formerly neglected stretch of Hollywood Boulevard that once held a legendary rehearsal studio where generations of actors learned to dance and wield swords.
Commercial real estate developer Sonny Astani said he bought a 1.9-acre site on Hollywood near Western Avenue for almost $11 million. Among the structures on the property is a building that was part of Falcon Studios, a performing arts school founded in 1929.
Falcon Studios was run by former Olympic fencer Ralph B. Faulkner, who taught swordplay while his wife, Edith, ran dancing and acting classes. Faulkner, who died in 1987, crossed swords with some of Hollywood's biggest action stars and frequently appeared in swashbuckling movie fight scenes.
Among his students were Errol Flynn, Ronald Colman, Basil Rathbone and Douglas Fairbanks Jr.
Astani plans to incorporate a Falcon Studios building facade in his 280-unit apartment complex and build around a city landmark structure at 5540 Hollywood Blvd. That two-story brick building was erected in 1921 and now houses a music recording studio.
Astani's complex, called High Line West, will include a 5,000-square-foot elevated park above street-level shops that is meant to evoke New York's popular High Line park. The park will be open to the public. Residents will have a private park and swimming pool, Astani said, and 25 units will be set aside for very-low-income residents.
Beverly Hills-based Astani Enterprises Inc. bought the Hollywood property from lender Capmark Financial Group Inc. A previous owner got approval to build condominiums on the site, but the project collapsed during the economic downturn.
Astani hopes to start work on High Line West in about a year. It would take 18 months to build. The project would help bring activity to a part of Hollywood Boulevard that is recovering from decades of neglect, when the neighborhood had a reputation for drugs and crime.
In 1988, the former owner of Falcon Studios was ready to give up on what she called the "dumpy old building," which was riddled with bullet holes
"It's an ugly building in an ugly neighborhood." Polly August told The Times. "People would not want to go there to practice, let alone bring their children."
In more recent years, shopping and residential developments have transformed the intersection of Hollywood and Western. It has a subway stop, and more change is on the way. Hollywood landlord CIM Group has renovated the 1920s Gershwin Hotel and turned it into apartments that will be part of a residential and retail complex planned at the northwest corner of the intersection.
"I've long wanted to build in this neighborhood," Astani said. "It's home to a rich cultural mix of single people and families, and is situated between the upscale retail developments of Hollywood to the west and Los Feliz to the east."
Land in Malibu on the market
One of the largest parcels of raw land suitable for commercial development in Malibu has hit the market, drawing interest from investors around the world. The asking price is $14 million.
The 9.2-acre site known as the Wave Property is on La Paz Lane off Civic Center Way, adjacent to the Los Angeles County courthouse and the county library.
The seller is a partnership that is dissolving by court order, and the land is an asset that must be sold, according to real estate brokerage Colliers International. Members of the partnership include Pepperdine University, Paul Shoop Family Trust and First American Title Co.
"We are receiving interest from investors in China and India as well as sovereign wealth funds in the Middle East like the United Arab Emirates and Qatar," Colliers broker Chris Maling said.
Potential uses allowed on the property include offices, stores, restaurants, senior housing and storage.