At the risk of sounding like the old, dead Republican Mayor (something I really try not to do here as I blog out of that character) I have to say though I understand some of the local concerns and fears about plans to remake Valley and Laurel Plazas north west of Downtown NoHo, I don't agree with them.
JH Snyder - who is revered as a near god here in the District for bringing us HOWS and NoHo Commons - wants to work his magic on the two legendary shopping centers I knew and loved as a child of North Hollywood (yes some of us are still here).
Who among us can forget the party store at Valley Plaza, the movie theatre on Bellingham (where I first saw Star Wars) and of course hanging at Laurel Plaza at the Ice Capades Chalet and seeing the new puppies, kittens or snakes at Safari Pets home of Safari Arnie from the Elementary News.
When I was a wee one my mom and grandmother would attend fashion shows at the tea room at May Co. My mother told me all the ladies at Laurel Plaza would say "What a beautiful baby."
Time, economic forces and the 1994 Northridge Earthquake brought an end to all of that. Valley Plaza crept into oblivion and all that could be saved after the quake of Laurel Plaza was the then May Company later Robinsons-May now Macy's. The quake and the recession put an end to one plan to restore Laurel Plaza back in the 90s.
Snyder's plan in a nutshell is to basically bulldoze all of Valley Plaza and replace it with an upscale outdoor mall similar to The Grove or Snyder's BellaTerra (pictured) in Huntington Beach, anchored by a new Macy's. Once that's complete, Macy's would vacate the current location which we could converted to condos while the surrounding massive parking lot would be populated by more condos, apartments and townhomes - as well as a new city park.
Besides the usual nannypoo NIMBY nonsense tied to this project (such as big-box-a-phobia because God forbid an upscale version of Costco is interested in a spot) is concern that a sliver of Valley Plaza Park connected to the eastern berm of the 17o freeway would be vacated by the new Valley Plaza and replaced with a brand new, state of the art neighborhood park at Laurel Plaza. If you haven't seen the parkland to be replaced, don't bother. Its really nothing more than grass and some trees choked between parking lot and the freeway. Its not where junior goes to play ball but rather where meth addicts hang out to score their next fix.
Though some of the surrounding neighbors bring up an almost irrational, hateful opposition to the project overall there is no doubt it is something that would benefit all of us in the community and the region was well. I personally am tired of having to drive to places like West Hollywood or Santa Clarita or Pasadena or anywhere else I have visited in this state to see something like this. Its high time North Hollywood has the kind of upscale retail and entertainment options every other community has.
Snyder has a great track record already in North Hollywood. I trust him to create something wonderful on the other end of town.