Three weeks to save iconic Hollywood sign: trust

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The Independent Online

A conservation group warned Wednesday they have just three weeks to raise three million dollars to save the iconic Hollywood sign from being razed by investors who want to build luxury houses on the site.

"We feel good about where we are and we feel good about our chances to do this," said Tim Ahern of the Trust for Public Land.

The group needs to raise three million dollars to reach the 12.5 million dollars needed to purchase the 138-acre (55-hectare) parcel of rugged land surrounding the sign from a Chicago-based consortium that has acquired rights to build four luxury mansions along the ridgeline.

The investors sought to sell the property for 22 million dollars but agreed to the 12.5-million price tag for the conservation group only if payment arrives by April 14.

Los Angeles council member Tom LaBonge said the trust has so far collected 9.5 million dollars - four million from public funds, and the remainder 5.5 million dollars from private donors including movie and television companies and Hollywood stars such as director Steven Spielberg and actor Tom Hanks.

"We're getting closer to our goal and if we continue working hard, I know we'll reach it," said LaBonge.

One of the world's most recognizable landmarks, the sign was given a facelift last month when the trust shrouded each of the 45-foot (13-meter) high letters in blankets so the slogan "SAVE THE PEAK" became visible for miles around the sprawling Californian city.

The Hollywood sign itself, which was initially created as an advert for a real estate development called Hollywoodland in 1923, is owned by the city of Los Angeles.

One of the City of Angels' most beloved attractions, the sign had fallen into disrepair until it was restored in the 1970s after a campaign which saw nine donors pay 27,777 dollars to "adopt" one letter each.

Donations for the trust's campaign can be made through the website www.savehollywoodland.org

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