HOLLYWOOD, Calif. — When visitors come to the new Hollywood and Highland retail and entertainment complex, they'll see a timeless black and white facade.
There will be a large bright marquee sign with the shopping center's new name: Ovation. Visitors will walk up a grand staircase surrounded by a lush landscape and see murals on the walls that celebrate Hollywood's filmmaking industry.
Then they'll walk into the newly renovated courtyard, under a newly designed massive archway, and see the famous Hollywood sign on the mountains.
"We want people the moment they walk from the street and into our center and under the archway and see the Hollywood sign, to be inspired," said Chad Cress, the chief creative officer at DJM, to Spectrum News.
Once complete later this year, visitors to the formerly known Hollywood and Highland retail center on Hollywood Boulevard and Highland Avenue in Hollywood will see many new changes.
Gone are the "Intolerance"-themed Babylonian carvings on the giant archway and the courtyard and the pair of gigantic white elephant statues that stood on massive pillars the size of the five-story shopping center.
Instead, when locals and tourists walk inside, they'll see a revamped open courtyard with lush landscape, a new creative office on the top two floors, and plenty of restaurants and retail.
As part of a $100 million modernizing plan, Hong Kong-based Gaw Capital and Los Angeles-based DJM Capital Partners, the property's new owners, are converting the giant arch into an art deco-style archway that features murals of people performing before lights, cameras and a crowd applauding.
Cress said the archway would serve as the symbolic gateway of Hollywood.
The shopping center is also getting a new name: Ovation Hollywood.
"We're celebrating what Hollywood is all about," said Cress. "By naming it Ovation, we're trying to capture the spirit of Hollywood that is optimistic and celebratory of folks who come all over the world to chase this dream."
Hong Kong-based Gaw Capital and DJM purchased the 463,000 square-foot property that sits on 7.5-acres in Hollywood from CIM Group for $325 million in 2019. The sale did not include the nearby Loews hotel and Dolby Theater.
Before the pandemic hit, the Hollywood and Highland complex was one of Hollywood's main tourist attractions, attracting more than 25 million visitors a year.
Built in 2001, the shopping center sits along Hollywood's famous Walk of Fame. It's adjacent to the TCL Chinese Theater and the Dolby Theater, where the Awards are held annually.
Upon purchasing the property, Gaw and DJM immediately announced the renovation. The companies began to renovate the property a few months ago. It should be complete later this year.
The group said they wanted to move away from the retail center's outdated architecture, lack of identity and confusing layout.
They also wanted to get rid of some of the racist legacy attached to the center. The center's original Babylonian design is based on D.W. Griffith's 1916 movie "Intolerance." Griffith is the director of the controversial silent film, "The Birth of a Nation."
"The Babylonian-themed courtyard is a replica of an antiquated film set from an intolerant time that we've always planned to remove for the reimagining of the property," said Cress. "Our goal for Ovation is to create a space that is forward-looking and celebrates Los Angeles' diversity, history and optimism."
Cress added, "the (old) design is not relevant for today's consumers."
Cress said they are designing the center to reflect the modern-day consumer.
The newly renovated center will feature chef-driven restaurants, experiential retail, event space and creative offices.
Despite focusing on the two sectors most struck by the coronavirus pandemic, the retail and office industries, Cress said, the pandemic actually "bolstered their business plan."
"The way we are looking at it, it's created a need for outdoor shopping space and indoor and outdoor offices," he said. "We're positioned nice. We're creating a place that is safe and inviting. No matter where you are in the center, you're always outside."
Cress envisions Ovation Hollywood as a must-visit place once renovations are complete.
"This is the heart of Hollywood," he said. "This is where the Dolby Theater is, the Hollywood Roosevelt (hotel) across the street, the Hollywood Walk of Fame, and so we take our responsibility very seriously. We are creating a place that represents the true nature of Hollywood."