Hollywood Tower (F.K.A. La Belle Tour)
Hollywood Tower, 2008
|Location||6200 Franklin Ave., Hollywood, California|
|Architect||Cramer & Wise|
|Architectural style||Late 19th- and 20th-century revivals, Renaissance, other|
|NRHP reference #||87002291|
|Added to NRHP||January 22, 1988|
Hollywood Tower, originally known as La Belle Tour, is a large apartment building in Hollywood, Los Angeles, California. The tower, built in 1929, was a popular residence for entertainment industry employees for many years and has often been cited as the inspiration for Disney's Twilight Zone Tower of Terror attractions. The real-life Hollywood Tower was listed in the National Register of Historical Places in 1988.
Sophisticated living in Hollywood's "Golden Age"
The V-shaped building, designed by architects Cramer & Wise in a faux French Normandy style, was built in 1929. At the time, it was a Class A building with more than 50 apartments, with three penthouse units, a subterranean garage, and private and public roof gardens. Located in the heart of Hollywood, the tower became a favorite place of residence for entertainment industry employees. A plaque by the front door reads: "Hollywood Tower. 1929. Sophisticated living for film luminaries during the 'Golden Age' of Hollywood." Actor George Raft owned an interest in the building and lived there for a time. In her novel Stormy Weather, Paula L. Woods wrote: "Hollywood Tower was a seven-story, indecisive gray building at the corner of Franklin and Vista Del Mar in Hollywood. The faux French Normandy apartment building was so old it probably had a view of the sea when it was built […] Hollywood Tower, though, was a last vestige of an earlier era. You could tell by the way the planting in the front was kept neatly trimmed and the lobby smelled Spic-and-Span clean."
The building directly abuts the Hollywood Freeway, and its neon "HOLLYWOOD TOWER" sign looking directly over the northbound freeway is a Hollywood landmark. Hollywood historian Marc Wanamaker said, "It has been a major landmark since it was built. Even before the freeway, it was a landmark on that hill."
Purchases and sales of the property
In 1978, the Hollywood Tower was sold to Deseret Properties, a Glendale, California firm owned by Blain Anderson. When Deseret bought the property, it was in poor shape, and the new owner invested approximately $50,000 in new carpeting and paint. However, Deseret found the project to be difficult to operate due to the adoption of rent control by the City of Los Angeles in 1978, and problems collecting rent from tenants who "didn't get that part" or "didn't sell that piece of music." In order to achieve a more stable flow of rental income, the new owner began courting senior citizens as tenants, and by 1981, 31 of the building's 56 apartments were occupied by senior citizens.
The building was sold in 2007 for $34.5 million to a Phoenix-based developer Alliance Residential with plans to build additional units on the land across Vista del Mar. Since the acquisition, ownership has invested more than $1 million in renovations and upgrades to the building and opened the new adjacent development, La Belle, in mid-2010.
As of 2015, The Hollywood Tower has been sold to Los Angeles-based developer MWest Holdings, and managed by their subsidiary, Polaris management. La Belle has been sold to Legacy Partners and is now known as "La Belle at Hollywood Tower." The two buildings are effectively separate entities.
The Hollywood Tower was listed in the National Register of Historic Places in 1988.
In popular culture
Though the architectural styles differ, the Hollywood Tower is "often cited as the inspiration" for the Twilight Zone Tower of Terror attractions at Disney parks in Florida, California, Paris and Tokyo. Like the real-life Hollywood Tower, the "Hollywood Tower Hotel" structure at the Disney theme parks bears the same classic "Hollywood Tower" sign and spiraling towers. A made-for-TV adaptation based on the ride entitled Tower of Terror was released in 1997, though while both the attraction and the movie shared the same basic premise of five people being killed in an elevator, the movie lacked any connection to The Twilight Zone.
The Hollywood Tower appears prominently, by name, in the 1948 mystery film Devil's Cargo, part of The Falcon series. It is also featured in Brian De Palma's 1984 thriller Body Double, a movie notable for its setting in a number of Los Angeles landmarks. The Hollywood Tower received ample screen time in the 1980 screwball comedy Midnight Madness, produced by Walt Disney Productions.
- National Park Service (2008-04-15). "National Register Information System". National Register of Historic Places. National Park Service.
- Vincent, Roger (2007-04-18). "Historic Hollywood Tower gets sold for $34.9 million". Los Angeles Times.
- Marc Wanamaker, Robert W. Nudelman (2007). Early Hollywood, p. 95. Arcadia. ISBN 0-7385-4792-1.
- Paula L. Woods (2001). Stormy Weather: A Charlotte Justice Novel, p. 104. W.W. Norton & Co. ISBN 0-393-02021-5.
- "La Belle Tour Holdings Sold: South American Buyers Invest in Hollywood Property". Los Angeles Times. 1937-07-25.
- "Building Sold for $250,000 Heads Large Sales Volume". Los Angeles Times. 1939-11-26.
- "Sale Announced". Los Angeles Times. 1953-06-07.
- "Hollywood Renovation Job Assigned". Los Angeles Times. 1978-05-14.
- Ruth Ryon (1981-05-17). "Offers Reduced Rent, No Fees, Utilities Paid: Hollywood Landlord Courting Seniors". Los Angeles Times.
- Oakie, Jack (1980). Jack Oakie's Double Takes. Starwberry Hill Press.