Since the prohibition days of 1920s when nightclubs and casinos opened on the Sunset Strip and alcohol was served in back rooms, the iconic, legendary and notorious stretch of Sunset Boulevard in West Hollywood has evolved and reinvented itself many times and it’s happening all over again. Much like most transformations, it faces challenges and growing pains.
PEOPLE ARE NOT WALKING ON SUNSET MUCH
LACK OF LIVE MUSIC
In the 1960s, Sunset Strip became a haven for rock musicians and their fans. Bands such as Led Zeppelin, The Doors, Frank Zappa, and many others played at clubs like the Whisky a Go Go, the Roxy, Pandora’s Box and the London Fog. In July 1965, Go-Go dancers also began performing. The Hyatt West Hollywood (now known as the Andaz West Hollywood) became a notable hotel. But during the 1990s, the center of the alternative music activity in Los Angeles shifted further east to areas like Echo Park, Los Feliz and Silver Lake. After seven years, the West Hollywood Sunset Boulevard Music Festival ended in 2015. With the closing of House of Blues, only five live music venues remain in West Hollywood. Live shows bring people out from all-over. Fans come to see the show, perhaps do a little shopping before and eat something afterward. There has been a noticeable decline of pedestrians on Sunset, but lack of live music is not the only reason.
TOO MANY FOUR-STAR HOTELS, NOT ENOUGH THREE AND FIVE STARS
Most hotels in West Hollywood are four-star, so the market is saturated. These hotels have similar clientele-business travelers, industry professionals and upper-middle class yuppies. Lack of three-star hotels means, that younger travelers can’t afford to stay in West Hollywood and frequent local establishments. Shortage of five-star hotels means that affluent tourists are more likely to stay in neighboring Beverly Hills or Century City. Restaurants and retail stores don’t have enough foot traffic, so they’re having a hard time surviving.
MIGRATION OF RETAIL
About every ten years, a different part of town evolves as the “it” shopping destination in LA. Rodeo Drive was the place to be for high-end retailers in the 1990s when Beverly Hills 90210 was in its heyday. Robertson Boulevard took fashionistas away in the 2000s when Lindsey, Paris, Nicole, Britney and the Olsen twins were regulars at now closed Kitson’s. Since, Melrose Place has emerged as the preferred neighborhood for chic retailers. Locals and visitors are flocking to Melrose for stores such as Vivienne Westwood, Alexander McQueen and Dash.
The Sunset Strip is getting a great deal of attention from City Hall, Visit West Hollywood (West Hollywood’s Tourism Business Improvement District), West Hollywood Chamber of Commerce and various civic and community leaders. Several dynamic, innovative and exciting projects are in various stages of development. These projects include the much-anticipated The Arts Club, if approved by the planning commission, will replace the current Hustler Hollywood building. The Arts Club is a London institution and will bring lot of cache and new energy to the Blvd. Its iconic architectural design with hints of art deco will be a jewel in the Creative City. The developers are dedicating over 2,000 square foot of prime ground-floor space to a public art gallery for the community.
VISIT WEST HOLLYWOOD
The Visit West Hollywood team under the fierce leadership of its CEO, Tom Kiely, has rolled out a comprehensive marketing campaign to attract more tourists to the City and increase the hotel occupancy. Tom’s team has the added responsibility of overseeing West Hollywood’s two business improvements districts, The Sunset Strip Business Association and the West Hollywood Design District.
WEST HOLLYWOOD CHAMBER OF COMMERCE
The Chamber has about 191 events, meetings and programs designed to support, promote and advocate for businesses in the City. The Chamber has partnered with Visit West Hollywood to sell sponsorship for the street pole banners on the notorious Sunset Strip and in the trend-setting Design District. The purpose of the street pole banner program is to partner with sponsors who have an interest in tying their brand to the Sunset Strip brand and cache. Funds raised through the sponsorship program provide additional revenues to further enhance the mission of the Districts.
MORE WILL BE REVEALED
There are several not-yet-announced projects in the works that will continue The Sunset Strip’s legacy as a world-class destination for music, nightlife and entertainment. These new ventures will complement and enhance the strip’s iconic venues such as The Roxy, Viper Room and Whiskey a Go Go. And remember, GoGo Dancing started in West Hollywood in the 1960s and WeHo continues this legacy.