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We had always just assumed that the Walk of Fame was untouchable, and that the tourists of tomorrow, strolling down its glittering trails in rocket-boosted sneakers, would enjoy it for generations to come. But today comes the somewhat distressing news that the stars on the 1600 block of Vine—for decades where local homeless could rely on relieving themselves on some of the biggest celebrities of Hollywood's Golden Age— have been temporarily removed to make way for the construction of the W Hotel complex. The LAT reports:

Charlton Heston, Jane Wyman, Cary Grant, Clark Gable, Donna Reed, Frank Sinatra and 55 other Hollywood celebrities were missing Wednesday from the Walk of Fame in the 1600 block of Vine Street.

They will be returned to Vine Street in 2009, when the W Hotel, upscale retail shops, apartments and condominiums have been built to partially surround Price's landmark Taft office building.

Eight of the terrazzo star squares crumbled when workers cut them from the walkway and carefully lifted the 6-inch-thick concrete slabs out.

"We saved the brass. They'll be rebuilt," said Tim Maxwell, project manager for Webcor Builders, which is involved in the huge project being developed in conjunction with the Los Angeles Community Redevelopment Agency.

Hollywood preservationists are not surprisingly up in arms, wondering why the private developer wasn't required to build around the landmark pedestrian thoroughfare, while the builders defend themselves by insisting the current sidewalk wasn't compliant with current codes and needed to be rebuilt anyway. Seeing as the stars have already been removed, however, we might as well seek the silver lining: Not only will the neighborhood have a handsome residential and retail complex lined by a shiny and refurbished strip of the Walk in 2009, but in the shorter term, Jimmy Hoffa's elusive remains might finally be discovered, buried deeply beneath the dislodged monument for Ol' Blue Eyes himself.

[Photo: LAT]