A very, very exciting mixed-use project is in the early planning stages over in El Pueblo just north of the 101 freeway and south of Chinatown, which is the historic birthplace of Downtown LA, and to a greater extent, the birthplace of Los Angeles itself. In fact, the oldest residence still standing in Los Angeles, Avila Adobe built in 1818, remains one of Downtown LA’s main visitor attractions located on historic Olvera Street within El Pueblo. Now, exciting plans are taking shape to further enhance and strengthen El Pueblo allowing for both visitors and Angelenos alike to embrace and appreciate the historic value of the district. A non-profit foundation based in El Pueblo called LA Plaza de Cultura y Artes is currently in the process of selecting a developer to build two mixed-use projects, named “LA Plaza Cultura Village,” on two county-owned parking lots just west of the foundation’s headquarters on Main Street that will connect El Pueblo to its surrounding communities including Chinatown and Union Station.
The two surface parking lots — named Block A and Block B — to be developed are just west of Olvera Street bisected by North Broadway. The two lots with 150 parking spaces are currently owned by the county (used mostly by jurors and county employees). The foundation can exercise an option to expand its ground lease to include this project site. The selected developer will essentially become a sub-tenant of the foundation on a long-term ground lease. Currently, there are six developers who have submitted proposals in response to an RFQ sent out by the foundation earlier this year in January. The final approval of the sublease will be decided by the County Board of Supervisors.
LA Plaza is slated to include 384 apartment units for rent with 20% set aside for affordable housing. The combined lots (Block A and B), which total 3.68 acres, will have 50,000 square feet of retail space on the ground floor adding much needed future restaurants and shops to a desolate stretch. Also, instead of being developed in two separate phases on two lots, the developer will likely build the entire project at once shortening the time frame for project completion. Construction on the project could begin in late 2015.
One of the most exciting features of LA Plaza will be an east-west paseo — lined with shops and restaurants — connecting El Pueblo all the way up to Fort Moore, the beautiful 80-foot wide water fountain located up on Hill Street that will eventually be restored by the county. Yes, you read correctly. As you can see in the rendering provided (above), the paseo will connect up the hill to Hill Street allowing for a pedestrian cross-flow that would essentially connect the Civic Center with El Pueblo, Chinatown, and Union Station. Ultimately, LA Plaza will play a critical role as a linchpin of sorts connecting multiple districts together and helping to finally bridge El Pueblo/Chinatown/Union Station with the rest of Downtown LA.
A scoping meeting will be held this week on Wed, April 9th from 4 pm to 6 pm on the 4th floor of the LA Plaza de Cultura y Artes located at 501 N Main Street. This is where the community will be able to provide valuable feedback after learning more about the project.