Downtown Chicago is bustling and filled with a variety of commercial activities and is a great model for Downtown LA to follow
I spent last week in one of the country’s best downtowns — Chicago. I was invited by Downtown LA-based architect firm, TCA, to join the founder Thomas Cox on an Urban Land Institute (ULI) conference panel discussing Gen Y (a demographic group I belong to) and our shifting preference toward multifamily housing in urban centers away from the default auto-centric suburbia that the Baby Boomers — our parents — once salivated for. The panel discussion was held at the Langham Hotel in the heart of Downtown Chicago across from the brand new stunning Trump Int’l Hotel and Tower. Lodging nearby at TheWit (highly recommended), I was in the perfect central location to explore all the amazing urban attributes that Downtown Chicago has to offer.
Posted in architecture, art and culture, bicycle oriented, community involvement, downtown los angeles, education, mixed-use development, pedestrian oriented, smart growth
Tagged architecture in chicago, chicago bike friendly, downtown chicago, downtown chicago walkable, pedestrian friendly chicago, uli conference downtown chicago
Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti will join ULI Los Angeles, a District Council of the Urban Land Institute (ULI), for Transit Oriented L.A., a long-anticipated summit exploring how to dramatically improve transportation corridors. With interactive panel presentations from nationally recognized speakers, Transit Oriented L.A. – or ToLA– will expand the traditional emphasis on individual transit stations to a bold transformation of corridors to achieve a truly transit-oriented Los Angeles.
ToLA is Thursday, October 10, 2013, 7:30 a.m. — 12:30 p.m. at the Japanese American National Museum, 100 N Central Ave, Los Angeles, 90012.
Posted in bicycle oriented, community involvement, downtown los angeles, economic development, education, events, little tokyo, mass transportation, mixed-use development, pedestrian oriented, public spaces, smart growth, sponsored post
Tagged tola uli los angeles, uli los angeles, uli los angeles little tokyo
“Take a book, give a book” as part of Grand Park’s free Little Libraries
Now that the 12-acre Grand Park has been open for over a year in Downtown LA, the LA Music Center, which is in charge of maintaining and programming the park, continues to look for innovative ways to activate the public space, becoming an integral part of the Downtown LA urban psyche. Part of that ongoing process depends on community driven participation that will happen organically over time as more Angelenos, especially downtown residents and workers, are exposed to the park. To nudge that process along, Grand Park has implemented a new “Free Little Libraries” program that promotes the idea of reading and getting the community more engaged with the public realm.
Posted in art and culture, bunker hill, civic center, community involvement, downtown los angeles, education, parks, pedestrian oriented, public spaces
Tagged activities in grand park downtown la, free books downtown la, free books los angeles, grand park downtown la, grand park little libraries, grand park los angeles, last bookstore downtown la, little libraries los angeles
A rendering of Pershing Square reimagined as open and transparent (Photo: Gensler / Nephew)
Okay, it’s a complete coincidence that after posting yesterday about redeveloping/redesigning Pershing Square (using SF Union Square as a model) that Councilman Jose Huizar announced this morning at the Gensler office downtown that a new 21-member task force was put together to help re-envision and re-imagine the future of Pershing Square. Perhaps the stars are finally aligning? Some of the members (listed below) are property owners surrounding Pershing Square who obviously would like to see the immediate surroundings improved. Remember: A beautiful and successfully activated Pershing Square of the future will benefit the nearby building stock tremendously, raising property values. A conceptual video was also released by Gensler highlighting some ideas for Pershing Square that you can watch here.
Posted in architecture, art and culture, community involvement, downtown los angeles, economic development, environmentally green, financial district, historic core, parks, pedestrian oriented, pershing square, public spaces, smart growth
Tagged gensler downtown la, gensler los angeles, gensler pershing square renderings, pershing square downtown la, pershing square dtla, pershing square los angeles, reimagined pershing square
The parallels between San Francisco’s Union Square and Los Angeles’ Pershing Square are pretty astounding. On the surface it’s hard to believe, but they are essentially twins living two separate lives 337 miles apart but following almost identical historical paths, faced with similar challenges, and playing similar roles in their respective city centers. SF’s Union Square, however, is about two decades ahead of LA’s Pershing Square. As a result, visiting Union Square is really like looking into a crystal ball and gazing into what the future of Pershing Square could become, which is a much better and prettier version of its current ugly self. Unlocking the immense potential surrounding Pershing Square will depend heavily on the right kind of redevelopment and redesign efforts focused on the square itself. In other words, making Pershing Square into a beautiful public space where everyone wants to be will naturally raise the value of all buildings surrounding the square nearby, and as a result, transform the area into a viable and vibrant commercial district akin to Union Square.
Posted in architecture, community involvement, downtown los angeles, economic development, financial district, historic core, Ideas for Downtown LA, parks, pedestrian oriented, pershing square, public spaces, smart growth
Tagged pershing square downtown la, pershing square los angeles, pershing square los angeles history, pershing square parking, pershing square redesign, pershing square remodel, sf union square parking, successful public spaces, union square san francisco
A rendering of Teo-Chew’s new LA headquarters coming to 649 N Broadway in Chinatown, directly adjacent to the new Jia Apartments
As construction wraps up on Chinatown’s first market-rate apartment project — Equity Residential’s new Jia Apartments (jia means “home” in Chinese) — with a projected occupancy date slated for Sept 10, 2013, another new ground-up project directly adjacent to the apartments will begin construction sometime soon. The new headquarters for the Southern California Teo-Chew Association will be built just north of Jia Apartments along Broadway near the Ord Street intersection.
Notebook on Cities and Culture: “Prada and Fallas-Paredes with Brigham Yen”
Colin Marshall walks through downtown Los Angeles with Brigham Yen, Realtor and author of the urban renaissance blog DTLA Rising. They discuss the sort of neighborhood that can rise from nothing, and whether Los Angeles’ downtown has come back from a deeper state of nothingness than other downtowns; the “bones” of a city’s center, and how Los Angeles’ have remained sound through all its problems; the late introduction of public space here; his car-centric youth in the San Gabriel Valley suburbs, and how going to San Francisco for school changed everything; the enduring “obesity” of Los Angeles’ streets, even as it has become the fastest-changing city in America; in what order transit, restaurants, bars, shopping, and housing needed to return downtown; how streets become “activated” with human energy; Broadway’s prospects for becoming “one of the coolest streets in America”; the healthy urban balance of a Prada by a Fallas-Paredes; how he began writing about cities by writing about Pasadena, and how interaction between the blogging half of his career and the real-estate half has deepened ever since; how he responds to longtime Angeleno’s complaints about “brainwashed Millennials” and their fallen expectations; the special importance of an undisputed urban center amid a sea of suburbia; the laid-back sensibility he hopes Los Angeles can retain during its transformation; and what dream people can see actively (and successfully) pursued if they visit downtown Los Angeles themselves.
Download the interview from Notebook on Cities and Culture’s feed or on iTunes.
Posted in art and culture, community involvement, downtown los angeles, economic development, education, interview, pedestrian oriented, people, public spaces, real estate, smart growth
Tagged brigham yen downtown la, colin marshall los angeles, colin marshall notebook on cities and culture, notebook on cities and culture, walking tour of downtown la
Downtown LA’s newest urban park, Spring Street Park, officially opened today at 10AM with a community gathering
Today was another great step forward in Downtown LA’s evolution in becoming a mature urban center that’s balanced not only with more needed density but open space as well — two important ingredients needed in urban planning that encourage a pedestrian lifestyle. The 0.7 acre Spring Street Park, nestled in between two historic condo high-rises — The Rowan and El Dorado — between 4th and 5th Street, officially opened at 10 am with a community gathering and inauguration that included downtown residents, community stakeholders, and LA Mayor Villaraigosa along with Council Members Huizar and Perry. The mood was cheerful and celebratory as today’s park, designed by Lehrer Architects, opening marked an important milestone for the Historic Core that further establishes the district as a bona fide urban residential community.
Posted in community involvement, downtown los angeles, environmentally green, events, historic core, parks, pedestrian oriented, public spaces, smart growth
Tagged open space in downtown la, parks in downtown la, spring st park downtown la, spring street park downtown la, spring street park los angeles, urban parks los angeles, urban pocket parks los angeles
Eric Garcetti takes a picture with the Downtown Los Angeles skyline in the background (Photo: EricGarcetti.com)
By Tom De Simone
Dear Fellow Angelenos,
I just returned from another evening of phone banking for Eric Garcetti and since I’ve been calling complete strangers, trying to convince them to vote for Garcetti for Mayor, I figured I should certainly reach out to my friends as well. We are fast approaching a mayoral election (Tues. May 21) in which the media would have you think there is no use even bothering to vote because the two candidates are mere carbon copies with little to distinguish them. Yet, while there are several similarities between Eric Garcetti and Wendy Greuel, there are key differences that make this race important and one in which I urge you to vote for Eric Garcetti to be our next Mayor of Los Angeles.
This snapshot I took in Chelsea of a typical scene in New York shows how wonderful a city can be when it is pedestrian oriented
Every time I visit New York, I’m like a kid in a candy store. Why? I’m an urbanist at heart and New York is brimming with urbanism. No, it’s exploding with urbanism! I love walking and being a pedestrian free to roam the city, and whenever I’m here in New York (usually for a week at a time), I feel liberated and empowered as I dart through the energetic streets, slide my MetroCard on my way down into the ubiquitous subway stations, and jaywalk whenever and wherever I please. The way New York and other East Coast cities are built, compact and mixed-use, encourage a thriving pedestrian culture. What are some key ideas that we can bring back from a city like New York that can continue to help Los Angeles (and specifically Downtown LA) develop that wonderful pedestrian urban lifestyle and lessen our dependence (read: handicap) on automobiles?
Posted in bicycle oriented, community involvement, downtown los angeles, education, environmentally green, Ideas for Downtown LA, parks, pedestrian oriented, public spaces, smart growth
Tagged flatiron district new york, gansevoort plaza meatpacking district, gansevoort plaza new york, greeley square new york, herald square new york, pedestrian plazas downtown la, pedestrian plazas los angeles, pedestrian plazas new york, road diets downtown la, road diets los angeles, road diets manhattan, road diets new york
Some ideas on how to bolster pedestrian connections — between City West and the rest of Downtown LA — include making the 110 overpasses safer and more attractive for pedestrians (mainly Wilshire Blvd and 7th Street)
As Downtown LA continues to evolve and mature into a multi-faceted urban center that’s not only a commercial hub but a bona fide residential community, it becomes even more important that we focus on creating an environment that is pedestrian friendly making it enjoyable and convenient for residents to live, work, and play in. That enhancement to the pedestrian realm — wider sidewalks, narrower streets, more bike lanes, etc. — in Downtown LA is needed to create the strong walkable connections that eventually spawns a walking culture.
Posted in architecture, art and culture, bicycle oriented, city west, community involvement, downtown los angeles, economic development, environmentally green, financial district, Ideas for Downtown LA, pedestrian oriented, public spaces, smart growth
One of the first redesign options for Pershing Square is to get rid of the walls to increase visibility and accessibility, returning it closer to the original form seen here in 1965 (Photo: LAPL)
Pershing Square has gone through several major overhauls since its inception in 1866 when it was then called La Plaza Abaja, or “The Lower Plaza.” In its current state (another major overhaul designed by Ricardo Legorreta and completed in 1992), purple, yellow and beige walls surround most of the square with giant pink cylinders lining the wall on Hill St, blocking accessibility and visual connections. In addition, long driveways on all four sides of the park — leading cars into an underground parking garage — run parallel to the sidewalk (instead of space saving perpendicular driveways) creating uncrossable rifts between the sidewalk and square. It’s as if the park was designed deliberately to cater to the automobile with the intention of keeping people out of the park.
Posted in architecture, community involvement, downtown los angeles, economic development, education, environmentally green, financial district, guest writer, historic core, Ideas for Downtown LA, parks, pedestrian oriented, pershing square, public spaces, smart growth
Tagged bryant park new york, friends of pershing square, pershing square downtown la, pershing square dtla, pershing square los angeles, pershing square pictures, union square san francisco
Post WWII, Grand Central Terminal faded away from the hearts and minds of New Yorkers and was almost demolished in the 60s, but today, the station is now more relevant than ever as one of New York’s top destinations — a path LA Union Station will hopefully follow
I just got back to LA after spending a week in New York. Every time I visit America’s largest urban center, I am inspired by the incredible urbanism that defines the city. The infrastructure and built environment, mix of architecture, diversity of businesses, and strong pedestrian culture never ceases to amaze me. For us in LA, as we continue to press for change — improving our own urbanism in a city still dominated by a suburban, car-oriented mentality — it would behoove us to look at successful models and examples from other cities that could be applied to Downtown LA. One of those prime examples is Grand Central Terminal in Midtown at 42nd Street, which has experienced an amazing turnaround from irrelevancy and near demolition in the 1960s to one of the greatest rail stations in the world today.
Posted in architecture, bicycle oriented, community involvement, downtown los angeles, economic development, environmentally green, Ideas for Downtown LA, mass transportation, mixed-use development, pedestrian oriented, retail, smart growth, union station
Tagged grand central manhattan, grand central new york, grand central station new york, grand central terminal new york, union station downtown la, union station los angeles
It has been 50 years since the last streetcar ran on any street in Los Angeles and now we will be bringing it back
As an ardent supporter of the LA Streetcar (read my op-ed piece here), I am elated by this great game-changing news! Just announced from the official LA Streetcar Twitter page at about 8:40pm, @lastreetcar tweeted: “You wanted streetcar. You got it. Unofficial results are in: 73% YES! Thank you #DTLA!!!!
#WeWantStreetcar.” According to LA Streetcar, only registered voters in the Community Facilities District who reside within three blocks of the proposed streetcar route voted in the mail-in-ballot election with over 10,000 registered voters. Because of the relatively fast construction process associated with streetcars, downtowners could be riding in the streetcar by 2016.
Please check out the official LA Streetcar press release below for full complete details:
Posted in community involvement, downtown los angeles, economic development, environmentally green, mass transportation, pedestrian oriented, smart growth
Tagged downtown la streetcar, la streetcar, la streetcar downtown la, la streetcar passes, los angeles streetcar
An updated rendering provided by Wood Partners of the new 22-story 290-unit apartment tower rising at the corner of 8th and Hope in Downtown LA
In February 2012, we reported that Wood Partners filed permits with the City of LA to begin construction on their new 22-story 290-unit apartment tower in Downtown LA. Then early last month, ground broke on the new project at the SW corner of 8th and Hope with a timeline to finish construction in 2014. The developer of the new mixed-use urban infill project, Wood Partners, is a national developer with a construction portfolio totaling $5.5 billion. Not only will the project add tremendous value to the immediate neighborhood by activating the corner with pedestrian and commercial activity — there will be 5,000 square feet of retail space at the corner — but Wood Partners is also reaching out to the community to get involved with the project through their “8th and Hope” blog. One of the first outreach efforts entails getting feedback from the downtown community to name the new apartment tower!
Posted in architecture, community involvement, downtown los angeles, financial district, mixed-use development, real estate, south park
Tagged 8th and hope downtown la, wood partners 8th and hope, wood partners downtown la, wood partners downtown los angeles, wood partners dtla, wood partners los angeles