Hollywood Sign Watch: Could a Hotel Save the Iconic Letters?

Los Angeles' iconic "Hollywood" sign is in danger of losing its nostalgic presence in the celebrity city thanks to private landowners' desire to sell to developers who are itching to make big money. Things were looking glum for the internationally recognized white letters when it looked as if mansions obscuring the sign might be built on land nearby. Then buzz of a clever concept to convert the site into a boutique hotel brought a glimmer of drama and hope.

Danish architect Christian Bay-Jorgensen is the brainchild behind a potential save-the-sign concept. His idea involves doubling the size of each landmark letter and building a hotel behind them. Before the unique plans came along, the city of Los Angeles was raising money for a "Save the Peak" effort to buy land near the sign from private investors.The sign is owned by the city and maintained by The Hollywood Sign Trust, a nonprofit group that recently got an extension on a deadline to purchase the private land. Preservationists say they are about $1.5 million away from their goal.

Bay-Jorgensen's idea sounds very cool. It's hard to imagine Hollywood without the Hollywood sign. In a city where Hollywood is a tourist attraction, why not have a Hollywood Sign Hotel?

Bay-Jorgensen's plan would make each letter two times larger than its current 45 feet. Each would house overnight guests and offer sweeping views of the L.A. basin. An observation deck would also be added to continue the long tradition of voyeuristic city views. The project could potentially help a city already desperately in need of funding.

Unfortunately, as good as this idea is, it's unlikely to materialize. Hollywood Sign Trust Chairman Chris Baumgart dismisses the hotel concept as another in long line of fanciful plans for the icon. "It's not going to happen," he says. So far the trust is steadfast in their commitment to keep the Cahuenga Peak a home for the Hollywood sign -- not an overnight destination. Stay tuned!

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