Despite its efforts to thwart a proposed residential development nearby, Capitol Records in Hollywood will gain a new neighbor: On July 11, the Los Angeles City Council voted to approve the construction of a 16-story condominium building and 242-space underground parking garage adjacent to the Capitol Records building and its subterranean recording studios in Hollywood.
For several weeks, EMI, leading members of Los Angeles' pro audio community (including Maureen Droney, executive director of the Recording Academy’s Producers & Engineers Wing; Grammy Award–winning producer/engineer Al Schmitt; and recording engineer Les Brockmann), the preservationist organization Heritage Hollywood, and concerned individuals had publicly opposed the project's sonic impact on the integrity of the acoustics of Capitol Studios' historic underground echo chambers designed by Les Paul in 1956. Testimony was given to the council's Planning and Land Use Management Committee, strongly urging the council to reject the development. On July 9, Capitol Records issued a statement saying that it "may be forced to shut down the Capitol Studios operations entirely and permanently" if the project was approved.
However, recording sessions at Capitol will continue. In granting the project's approval, the L.A. City Council is requiring the developer, Second Street Ventures, to observe special conditions designed to protect the uninterrupted operation of Capitol's recording studios and echo chambers.
EMI and Second Street Ventures agreed to four specific measures that address Capitol's concerns:
1. Construction equipment and activities will be prohibited after 10:00 a.m. within 40 feet of the property line in order to make sure sessions are not interrupted.
2. Second Street Ventures will not use any steel-tracked construction equipment and will use alternative measures.
3. A sound baffle will be created, using a foam liner between the underground garage and the property line of Capitol Records, to ensure that Capitol Studios' storied echo chambers are not impacted.
4. There will be ongoing noise and vibration monitoring during the entire length of the project.
The Los Angeles Times reported that “the project will establish a fund to compensate EMI, the parent company of Capitol Records, if recording is disrupted," as a statement from Councilman Eric Garcetti—whose district includes a portion of Hollywood. Garcetti also noted, “We all learned a lot more about vibrations than we ever knew before this started.”
In a statement responding to the L.A. City Council's July 11 vote, EMI said it “will not be withdrawing its appeal with respect to the proposed project at 6230 Yucca Blvd. in Hollywood. However, we are confident that the agreement we are negotiating with Second Street Ventures will protect the operation of the legendary Capitol Studios and ensure that artists can continue to make high-quality recordings in Hollywood. This agreement will protect the acoustic integrity and operations of the Capitol Records Studios and ensure it continues as one of the world's premiere recording facilities, as it has for more than 50 years.”
For background on this story, see the July 1 MixLine story “Capitol Studios Faces Threat from Condo Construction Project.”