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Land above famed Hollywood sign to be sold for US$22m
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Fox River Land Co., the owner of the land backdrop to the Hollywood sign, is selling the 138-acre property for 22 million U.S. dollars, media reported Friday.

Keith Dickson, a representative of the group, said the remote ridge property had been divided into lots for five luxury homes. Utility lines, water service and roads would also have to be built.

The news provoked outrage from Los Angeles city officials who denounced housing development there would spoil one of the most famous postcard of the entertainment industry.

"If homes were built on this mountain, there would be no close-up. It would be obscene," said Los Angeles City Council member Tom LaBonge. "That mountain should not be cluttered. It's good for the psyche of Los Angeles."

"The city should acquire this land. Everyone was shocked to find out it was privately owned," LaBonge added.

Fox River Financial Resources bought the mountaintop in 2002 from the estate of reclusive entrepreneur Howard Hughes, who had planned to build a love nest there for actress Ginger Rogers in the 1940s.

For several years, Los Angeles city officials had raised money to buy the property to adjoin it with the parkland on which the sign sits, but officials came up short on cash.

The Hollywood sign spells out the name of the area in 45-ft (13.7-meter) high white letters. It originally read Hollywoodland and was created as an advertisement for a housing development in 1923. The last few letters deteriorated in the late 1940s and the part that remained was restored in 1978.

(Xinhua/Agencies February 15, 2008)

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