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Westwood leaders host 2024 kickoff brunch at Hammer Museum

Board chair Kevin Crummy is pictured. Community leaders spoke about their hopes for the future of Westwood. (Ella Coffey/Daily Bruin)

By Sharla Steinman

Jan. 24, 2024 7:30 p.m.

The Westwood Village Improvement Association hosted community members Thursday morning for its 2024 kickoff brunch at the Hammer Museum.

The event included speeches from WVIA members and questions from the community. There was also a Q&A with Hammer Museum director Ann Philbin and refreshments for guests.

WVIA board chair Kevin Crummy commemorated WVIA executive director Michael Russell during the meeting for his work that improved Westwood over the last year.

“This year they (Russell and Megan Furey, director of programs and partnerships) beautified some of our public spaces with the artwork, they put in signage, they had holiday decor, they painted the lampposts, they did a lot of things, and, most importantly, they brought the fun back to Westwood,” Crummy said.

He added that the new additions to the Village were part of the reason visitor traffic increased by 12% to 2.3 million people over the past year. Crummy added that 17 new businesses opened in the village last year.

“We haven’t gotten rid of all of our vacancy, but we will, and it’s moving in the right direction,” Crummy said during the meeting.

Josh Trifunovic, chairman of the WVIA revitalization and identity committee, said during the meeting that one of the biggest issues people are still facing in Westwood is the lack of parking. He said the committee hopes to implement a universal valet program in the Village.

Trifunovic, who is also president of the North Westwood Neighborhood Council, added that the program would potentially have curb stands in strategic locations where people could valet their car for hours at a time.

He added that the committee also hopes to upgrade the Broxton Avenue parking structure and sidewalks.

Trifunovic also said during the meeting that the committee is interested in having businesses donate funds to improve Westwood and offered amenities such as a bench, tree or plaque to thank them for their contributions.

During the meeting, Russell said he hopes that the Broxton Plaza Project, a plan to transform part of Broxton Avenue into a pedestrian-only walkway, will be done by this spring.

“This new pedestrian plaza will give Westwood a permanent space for community gatherings,” Russell said during the meeting.

Russell added that the WVIA has already hosted many events on Broxton Avenue, including Broxton Nights on the second Saturday of every month.

[Related: Westwood Village Improvement Association obtains permit for Broxton Plaza Project]

Russell added during the meeting that the investments made into Westwood Village over the past year, including the $90 million used for the Hammer Museum renovation and the $24 million used for the Nimoy Theater renovation, have been impactful.

“We’ve seen significant investments being made in all sectors – hospitality, retail and residential – further highlighting the stakeholder belief that Westwood Village has a bright future,” Russell said during the meeting.

Executive director of the Westwood Village Improvement Association Michael Russell is pictured with the director of the Hammer Museum, Ann Philbin. The kickoff featured a Q&A with Philbin. (Michael Gallagher/Daily Bruin)

During the Q&A with Philbin, she said the museum’s attendance numbers have surpassed prepandemic numbers, while most other museums are still trying to reach that goal.

She also spoke about her retirement during the Q&A and said it was time for a new generation and new ideas.

“You can do all those incredibly wonderful things,” Philbin said. “This is going to be the center of the city. I mean, it’s just such a spectacular place. It has all the elements of being a really fabulous, fabulous place for people to gather.”

Crummy said during the meeting that he’s looking forward to the future of Westwood Village.

“I’ll wrap it up by saying we made great strides in 2023, and I want to leverage that momentum into a better 2024,” Crummy said during the meeting.

Contributing reports by Catherine Hamilton, News editor.

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Sharla Steinman | City and Crime Editor
Steinman is the 2023-2024 city and crime editor. She was previously a city and crime contributor. She is also a fourth-year political science student.
Steinman is the 2023-2024 city and crime editor. She was previously a city and crime contributor. She is also a fourth-year political science student.
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