Hollywood sign supporters get 16-day extension

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Visitors to the Hollywood and Highland complex view the iconic 450-foot-long Hollywood sign after activists covered it with banners during an effort to prevent the building of houses there on February 13, 2010.

Boosters trying to save the Hollywood sign by buying the land around it have a little more than two weeks to come up with the money.

(Audio: KPCC’s Shirley Jahad is in Hollywood with the latest.)

A nonprofit group seeking to prevent the development of open land surrounding the Hollywood sign has been given 16 more days to raise the remaining $1.5 million needed to buy 138 acres surrounding the landmark, it was announced today.

Los Angeles City Councilman Tom LaBonge and the Trust for Public Land are trying to put together $12.5 million to buy the land. The trust would eventually give the land to city.

Hollywood sign gets reprieve from 89.3 KPCC on Vimeo.

"We need to raise a total of $12.5 million and today we're at $11 million," said Will Rogers, president of the group. "Our deadline was originally set for today, April 14, but thanks to the cooperation of the landowners, we now have until April 30."

In a related development, Aileen Getty and The Tiffany & Co. Foundation announced a $500,000 matching grant which, paired with a donation, would leave the trust just $500,000 shy.

Chicago-based investors who own the land want to build four large homes along the ridgeline.

The investors initially planned to sell the land to developers for $22 million but agreed to turn it over to the trust for $12.5 million – if the money came in before April 14.

"We are grateful to have a little more time to reach our goal, and we're going to get there," LaBonge said.

The trust has collected about $9.7 million so far, including about $4 million in public funds.

Two city departments – Public Works and Recreation and Parks – put up $1.7 million, and about $5.5 has come from private donors, including the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, various movie and television companies, local community organizations and celebrities such as Steven Spielberg, Tom Hanks and Rita Wilson.

To raise awareness about the fundraising effort, the sign was draped with a "Save the Peak" banner last month.

Donations can be made through the Web site Save Cahuenga Peak.

Howard Hughes bought the land in 1940 to build a home for actress Ginger Rogers. When the relationship fell apart and Hughes died, his estate sold the property to the group of Chicago investors in 2002.

This story uses information from KPCC wire services.

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