Sprinkler Fitters Local 709 Keeps Hollywood Safe

HOLLYWOOD, Calif.—UA Local 709 Sprinkler Fitters are currently hard at work on a new mixed-use high-rise going up at 5929 Sunset Boulevard, just opposite the new Emerson College building in the heart of Hollywood. XL Fire Protection is supplying the crews for both jobs.

At an estimated construction value of $75 million, 5929 Sunset sits on a 1.8-acre lot at the corner of Gordon Street, and will offer 300 residential units, commercial office space and ground floor retail upon completion in 2014. In addition to Emerson, Hollywood also houses the Paramount Pictures lot, where the Building Trades will start $700 million in work in 2015.

With a handful of 709 Tradesmen spread between the high-rise and the adjacent subterranean parking structure, members say they are going through an intense buildout.

A tour of the more finished residential floors—which will run from the fifth floor to the 22nd—reveals dramatic units walled in by floor-to-ceiling glass looking out over the Hollywood Hills and surrounding cityscape.

Union Work, Done Right

The project is under a Project Labor Agreement that is open to union and non-union subcontractors, but officials estimate that about 90 percent of the work is being done by union signatories.

“You go with union labor because you get a really good product and whenever you need manpower, you can get it right away,” said Darren Vieth, project safety manager for general contractor HW&A, which is owned by Balfour Beatty.

“You don’t have any problem, it’s done right. That’s the way we build,” Vieth said, crediting the thorough training union members go through to reach journeyman status.

“So you know the guys know what they’re doing. You don’t have to constantly check on every stop. And when you’re building this high with at least 100 to 150 employees, you really don’t have the time to go check everyone.”

Rick Vazquez, business representative for Local 709, explained that the craftsmen are currently roughing in the job, hanging pipe to prepare for finish work a little further down the line.

“We’re roughing it in right now,” Vazquez said. “They’re probably 60 percent done, waiting for the job to catch up to them; they’re ahead of schedule.

“They’re working hard to keep ahead. That way, if any problems should come up they have time to fix whatever needs to be fixed.”

Foreman Deon Acevedo, who has been with the Local nine years, said work is generally up for his Trade, and he expects bigger jobs coming down the pipeline. For Miguel Pineda, 39, a second-year apprentice, the build is his first high-rise.
This was the first day on the project for second-year apprentice Ricardo Quimiro. His brother is also a Local 709 member.

Modern Hollywood Luxury

David Elliott, project director for Balfour Beatty Construction, described a finished product that sounds like modern Hollywood luxury, with a fifth-floor pool deck, several amenity areas like gym and yoga space, as well as a media room for events. He said the residential units, divided among studio, one and two bedrooms, will rent at market rate.

So far, he said, there has been a lot of interest from several prospective clients regarding the 14,168 square feet of ground floor retail space opening up, but no decisions have been made.

The third and fourth levels will host 40,000 square feet of “creative” commercial office space.