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Wilshire Grand's Plan for Skyline Lights

By Eric Richardson
Published: Wednesday, August 11, 2010, at 02:48PM
Renderining of Proposed Wilshire Grand Replacement AC Martin and Christopher A. Joseph & Associates, 2009

A rendering from the Environmental Impact Report for the Wilshire Grand Hotel replacement shows LED advertising the developer would like to integrate into the pair of towers that would rise on the site.

The news that Korean Airline’s parent company wanted to tear down the Wilshire Grand Hotel and replace it with a pair of high-rise towers caused quite a positive splash last April, but the project’s proposed signage is certain to be much more controversial.

A sign district proposed for the site and detailed in its Draft Environmental Impact Report would allow several hundred thousand square feet of digital displays integrated into the sides of the hotel and office towers, currently planned to rise 65 and 45 stories. The taller of the two would have eight less stories than U.S. Bank Tower, but could still surpass it in height.

Signage has been a hot-button issue over the past few years as the City of Los Angeles has battled advertising companies over what is and isn’t legal.

The city’s baseline signage rules would not allow anything close to what is proposed by the project, but approval of a sign district would allow more permissive rules to be put in place.

The sign proposal has generated a significant comment thread on Curbed LA, which was first to cover the issue last Thursday.

Editor Dakota Smith has given extensive coverage to the city’s ongoing signage debate, but she’s at a loss when predicting how this one will come out.

“I really have no idea,” she said this week. “The big issue is whether the city wants to allow this type of electronic signage in the Financial District. It’s extending the feel of L.A. Live into another part of the city.”

In March, Korean Air Chairman Y. H. Cho told a Downtown audience that he thought the city could be moving faster on entitlements for his project. "We understand that balancing the city budget is a priority at this time. But your city leaders must not let today’s challenges slow down tomorrow’s gains."

The 1952 hotel was originally constructed as the Statler Hotel, then became the Statler Hilton, the Los Angeles Hilton and the Omni Hotel before becoming the Wilshire Grand.

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