Denis and Sylvia Weintraub
Denis (Deny) and Sylvia Weintraub are more than just property owners on Melrose Ave. The couple, whose 7600 Melrose Avenue building is an iconic part of the avenue’s business scene, are also among the founders of the Melrose Business Improvement District.
Their involvement with Melrose Avenue began in 1979, when Sylvia Weintraub purchased a property that housed an automotive shop at the 7600 address. In 1983, they built the building that stands there now. Tenants include Elegance Studio LA which offers private, exclusive, appointment-only haircuts to professional athletes such as Lakers players and artists such as rapper, singer/ songwriter and actor Sean Combs. Owner Jay Nouri is currently opening an additional hair salon in the building for women, with appointments available for the general public.
Entertainer Ray Jay also has a business in the Weintraub’s building called Scoot-E-Bike, which sells electric bikes, and is frequently featured as a location in a number of reality shows. The newlywed entertainer’s wife, Princess Love, is opening an organic nail salon called “Prella” in the building as well.
The entertainment industry connections don’t stop there. Rosa Acosta, a part of the reality show Basketball Wives, owns clothing store CossaMia; Garden of Sound provides voice-over studio recordings for talent such as Alec Baldwin; D.J. studio Garnish trains celebrity disc jockeys, and public relations firm A Dog and A Duck is also located there.
“It’s one of the more hip buildings on Melrose,” Sylvia reports. “When we first opened in 1984, we were in People magazine’s photo centerfold.” For a decade, the building housed Fat Beat, a hip-hop music store, which drew an eclectic crowd to the location, as did – and still does – the site’s second floor balcony. “People like to hang out there and watch the foot traffic. You can also see the Hollywood sign,” she adds.
As long-time owners on the avenue, both Weintraubs are committed to the area. “About five years ago my husband and I started cold-calling people on the avenue to see if they were interested in starting a Business Improvement District. It took several years to convince people to sign the petition requesting one,” she explains.
Through an agreed upon assessment, property owners between Fairfax and Highland fund the BID which provides improvements such as parking management, street cleaning, trash collection, security, homeless services, and social media advertising.
“We hire companies to clean up, pick up the trash, power wash, get rid of graffiti, provide a security patrol, and establish an effective consumer marketing program,” Sylvia says.
Deny adds “We are doing very well with social media and public relations, getting a lot of hits on our website, reaching the needs of millennials and others who tend to shop on Melrose. Ultimately, we’re working together to make it a fun street again.” He adds that, “We just published a great map that lists all the area businesses. We want to attract new tourists to shop Melrose.”
According to Sylvia, one of the most important things the BID has accomplished is their valet parking system. “It makes it easier for restaurants to open on Melrose, because we can help them meet parking requirements.”
The BID was also the recipient of a $4 million dollar grant that will be in received beginning in 2019. “That money will be going for improvements such as ‘parklets,’ bike lanes, and additional lighting,” Sylvia attests.
While many of the buildings on the avenue are owned by long-term owners, the street was at the height of its popularity in the mid-80s, with its comparatively inexpensive yet stylish clothes and fun restaurants. But a lull hit the busy shopping and entertainment district during the recession period in the mid 2000s.
“We really needed to form a BID to bring Melrose back to what it was in its heyday,” Sylvia asserts. “There’s a lot of energy here now thanks to the BID,” Deny states. “When we first started we didn’t know the property and business owners on either side of us, and now there are so many people we know on a first name basis. It’s really fun to see the kind of impact you have when people organize together. The tremendous results that are being achieved could not be accomplished by individuals acting alone; community organization is required in order to realize the best potential for all. So many people have come forward to help for the common good. I’m very proud of it.”
“I think one of the most interesting things here is people watching. This is one of the few places in Los Angeles that is really a walking district,” Sylvia adds. “People want to take their time, window-shop, see what different stores have to offer. There’s so much positive energy now!”
“The BID will be up for renewal at the end of 2017,” Deny adds. “We’ll need to go back to property owners and show them what we’ve done, that it’s cleaner, safer, and more inviting to for the public.”
And above all else, Sylvia attests “It’s more fun.”