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L.A. Icon Gets Lift

Many things in Los Angeles get facelifts: the rich and famous, buildings, and now one local legend.

Nic Adler grew up on the Sunset Strip, a famous stretch of Sunset Boulevard that lies within West Hollywood’s city limits. Adler has waited years for this to happen.

“Seeing the street repaved and getting new trees in here is super exciting,” Adler said.

In January, the city of West Hollywood began a six-month project to makeover the Sunset Strip.

“We’re giving it a nice wash, and cleaning it up,” Adler said.

However, the Sunset Strip Beautification Project will do much more than clean up the street.

Adler and other local business owners have rallied behind the project. They hope the street improvements will attract more visitors to the area.

Nearly 10 years ago, business owners on the Strip united to form the Sunset Strip Business Association. Before its formation, the nightclubs and restaurants competed for business. Now, the organization has about 200 members in the entertainment and hospitality industry, and those members work hard to promote the Strip and its businesses.

The association has also struggled to keep its businesses afloat during the economic downturn.

Adler said the beautification project comes at the perfect time.

“People are going to want to come back and walk up and down the strip and go to multiple places,” Adler said.

Adler took over the Roxy nightclub 10 years ago from his father, Lou Adler. He has seen the Strip change through the years. He said people used to walk the Strip, visiting multiple clubs and restaurants. That is no longer the case. The Strip has become a one-stop destination, he added.

Many of Sunset Boulevard’s sidewalks have crumbled and the street looks like a quilted pavement.

“If you don’t treat things well, maybe you just don’t want to use that thing anymore,” Adler said.

Ficus trees have also played a part in the Strip’s current state. The roots from the trees have wreaked havoc on some of the sidewalks, Adler said.

The project will replace some of those sidewalks, about a third of the street’s total,  and add trees and islands. Rubberized asphalt made in part out of old tires will replace the street’s current pavement. This new asphalt will make the street quieter, said Donn Uyeno, the project manager for the Sunset Strip Beautification Project.

West Hollywood and the Sunset Strip Business Association have worked together for years planning the project.

The city has split the project into three phases, which each last two months. The first phase began on the city’s border with Los Angeles, and the project’s third phase will stop where the boulevard crosses into Beverly Hills.

Business owners and West Hollywood have worked hard to let residents know about the project, posting weekly construction updates on their websites.

“It’s kind of already renewed interest in Sunset Boulevard. So, that’s just an added bonus to bringing businesses back to Sunset,” Uyeno said.

The Strip has a rich rock and roll tradition, and many of the area nightclubs have helped kick start the careers of blockbuster bands like Guns ‘N Roses, the Doors, and Motley Crue.

But this is the first time the boulevard has been repaved since concrete was poured to cover the dirt road over 75 years ago.

All of these changes, however, will only change the strip physically.

“We’re still going to keep the vibe that’s on Sunset Strip. . . Everything you love about Sunset Boulevard is still going to be there. The night clubs that you went to are still going to be there,” Uyeno said.

Other entertainment areas have recently sprung up across Los Angeles. But Adler said they cannot compare to Sunset.

“You can’t go outside and smell it and feel it and touch it like you can on the Strip,” Adler said.

That atmosphere will remain the same despite the street’s surface improvements. And visitors will still have that familiar feeling when they walk up and down its sidewalks.