Three-and-a-half years ago, Phoenix-based Alliance Residential Co. had the opportunity to buy into the iconic Hollywood Tower, the 1920s-era apartment building done up in French Norman architecture and the model for the “Haunted Mansion” attraction at Disneyland.
“In a way, it was a little too small for Alliance,” recalls Alliance partner and managing director Drew Colquitt. “But it was such an amazing trophy, and the more we dug, we discovered the owner also had 2.5 acres next door that was zoned for residential.”
Alliance’s acquisition—made possible by the firm’s Florham Park, N.J.-based financial partner BlackRock Diamond Fund and Newport Beach, Calif.-based construction lender Pacific Life Insurance Co.—included that adjacent parcel. Work began immediately on the 146-unit La Belle at Hollywood Tower, guided by the decision to ditch contemporary design and pay homage to the Hollywood Tower with a modern play on the French architectural style. “We thought contemporary was the easy way out,” Colquitt says. The community is an achievement in historic “Old Hollywood” homage blended with the flash of “New Hollywood.”
Of course, Alliance had to overcome the challenges of 21st century urban infill: Proximity to U.S. Highway 101 required STC-rated products, and the site needed soil remediation prior to construction. With the stage thus set, Alliance added blockbuster amenities including a zero-edge pool featuring a dual-sided cinema screen, underwater speakers, and views of the Hollywood sign.
In fact, La Belle has served as the backdrop for three episodes of HBO’s hit series Entourage, and the property wasted little time hosting viewing parties.
Alliance wasn’t all glam and glitz about its Hollywood build-out, however. The firm solidified its neighborhood reputation with the best development sequel of all: renovating a nearby shelter for homeless teenagers. Three of our biggest competitors are targeting Hollywood,” Colquitt says. “So memory retention and setting ourselves apart as community developers has become more important than ever.”