Other large-scale projects are in the works include the 65-year-old Weddington Golf and Tennis, a 9-hole golf course backed up against the Los Angeles River with a driving range and 16 tennis courts. The owners are trying to replace the tennis courts with 200 senior housing units in six, four-story buildings going up 45 feet.
Currently, the only building that might rival the height of the city’s palm trees is the iconic Studio City neon sign that shoots off of Bookstar, a Barnes and Noble bookstore retaining the façade of the 1940s single-screen movie theater it used to be.
Proposals like these have sparked retaliation. Residents appealed Sportsmen’s Landing’s construction in a five-hour public hearing in March that ended in their defeat. In response to the Weddington condos, over the past 15 years, residents formed a non-profit organization that hires attorneys and experts to stop the proposal. After raising $300,000 to $400,000 to assess an idea that will redevelop the area into a river park, they now plan to raise more money to purchase the property from the Weddington family.
”We’ve got almost 19 million people in the greater Los Angeles area. That’s inevitably going to change things,” says 74-year-old Don Allison, a lifelong resident of the area. “You can’t just suddenly say. Stop!”
Allison flips through a Los Angeles history book at Bookstar. He looks at before and after pictures of the city. Allison says change is nothing new. “I’ve seen the valley go from agricultural to being residential to now being more commercial,” he says.
Allison says he remembers being a little boy when red cars ran through the streets. But he also remembers watching people get run over by them. “It would be nice if the cars were still there, but the cars would not make it so,” Allison said. “I saw so many accidents when I was a kid, it was painful.”
Allison grew up to run an international merchandise brokerage business, then became a college economics professor. “I don’t think, as an economist, ‘better.’ I’m not a person that looks back and says, ‘That was better then. This is better now.’ Life has changed and life will change,” he said. “And it’s changing rapidly.”
Allison said some buildings have historical value, but only as long as they are profitable. “If you can’t make them profitable, nobody wants to go in it. It looks shabby. It’s no fun. It’s just standing there,” he said, adding that he looks forward to all of the new developments in Studio City.
-Cameron Quong, Staff Reporter/Video Producer