Just last week, I gave a staff writer, Bill Johnson, at the Los Angeles Register a 4 hour walking tour of Downtown LA. Yes, we actually walked for those who don’t believe it’s possible in “car-centric” Los Angeles. The walk was not only long but interesting all along the way. I love giving these walking tours because it’s always my goal to surprise those who aren’t familiar with downtown not only all the exciting changes happening but also that it’s completely possible to be a pedestrian in Los Angeles when a city has a centralized urban center that’s filled with things to do and see. Simple concept, yet so many were/are skeptical it could ever happen here in sprawly LA. To read the full tour described by Johnson, please check out the LA Register article by clicking here.
Category Archives: environmentally green
Come Walk with Me: Brigham Yen Shows the LA Register What It’s Like to be a Pedestrian in Downtown LA
Wow Downtown LA is just buzzing with grocery store news lately huh? Yesterday, there was some exciting rumors that we posted that Trader Joe’s may be opening a store at The Bloc in the Financial District, and now some more exciting grocery news to share that a local LA market called GROW in Manhattan Beach is planning to open later this year at the massive Michael Maltzan-designed One Santa Fe mixed-use project in the rapidly developing Arts District.
Over the last two months since we found out that some very exciting upgrades were coming to Union Station in Downtown LA, work has been humming along with construction upgrades to the station including: the addition of new wayfinding signage; major touch-up work like fresh paint on walls and floors getting a beautiful shiny glossy polish; and other restoration work that’s really producing some very exciting and dramatic results. Part of the wayfinding signage program being implemented even includes a new towering interactive kiosk in the east portal section of the station and new large digital schedule screens for Amtrak and Metrolink.
Stephen Kane Running for DLANC: “Safer Streets, Redoing Pershing Square, More Transit” in Downtown LA
By Stephen Kane
It’s no longer a secret: DTLA is on the verge of becoming a great urban core once again. Promise and opportunity abound in this rapidly growing community, but so do the challenges that we must address in order to keep downtown on the right path and direction. As we continue to grow and evolve, we will increasingly wrestle with who we are and what we aspire to be.
Watch a short video about ULI FutureBuild hosted in Downtown LA!
Mayor Eric Garcetti is among the leaders who will preview dramatic changes in urban living at FutureBuild 2014. On January 28 ULI Los Angeles presents this high-level, interactive event. Mayor Garcetti will give the keynote speech – a preview of a sustainably designed a future Los Angeles. (Could it be something like the transit-oriented Downtown depicted in Spike Jonze’s movie “Her?”) Other Downtown-focused topics will include: new bikeways; a preview of the new cubicle-free office represented by CBRE’s redesigned headquarters; parklets such as those popping up on Spring Street; expanded access to a restored L.A. River, and more.
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.
Back in January of this year, DTLA Rising first reported that Dr J’s Vibrant Cafe was coming to the Old Bank District at 4th and Main. The new vegan eatery — named after its health-conscious owner Dr. Juliet Tien — opened last week at the Medallion Apartments, which is fast becoming a total foodie hot spot not only with Simply Salad and potentially pricey Sushi Zo on the roster, but six more exciting food concepts coming within the next year including Bigmista’s BBQ and Cafe Uzes from Tara Thomas (Traxx Restaurant at Union Station).
Over the last decade, the Arts District on the eastern edge of Downtown LA has become increasingly more residential as opposed to being a strictly industrial district. As more residents moved in over the years into industrial buildings turned into lofts, the demand for basic amenities became ever more apparent. Even though numerous high profile restaurants and eateries have opened here in the last several years (i.e., Urth Caffe, Wurstkuche, Church & State, Bestia, Handsome Coffee to name a few), sorely missing was a neighborhood grocery store. And now with the opening of Urban Radish at 660 Mateo St near the Biscuit and Toy Factory Lofts, the Arts District finally gets its own specialty market helping to fulfill that basic residential need.
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.
One of the largest projects under construction right now in Downtown LA is the massive quarter-mile long One Santa Fe mixed-use project in the burgeoning Arts District, designed by Michael Maltzan. When completed late next year, One Santa Fe will add 438 apartments for rent and 79,000 square feet of commercial space (office, retail, and a 99-seat community theater). As to be expected with a growing residential population, grocery stores are all the rage in Downtown LA, so the developer of One Santa Fe was smart to allocate 15,000 square feet for just that purpose. But what kind of grocery store will it be?
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?
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.
What do we want more of in Downtown LA? More grocery stores of course. The growing residential population downtown has been clamoring for more grocery options (even though we really do love our Ralphs Fresh Fare!). A source working closely with Whole Foods has confirmed to me in an email that the Austin, Texas-based supermarket chain “is looking at a number of sites” in Downtown LA.
A new Wetzel’s Pretzels has replaced the original “subway snack bar” that symbolized a new direction that LA was taking when it comes to walking vs driving and urban vs suburban. Back in summer of 2011, “Carmegeddon” was the talk of the town as many Angelenos feared the impending “shut down” and “collapse” of our city due to the closure of the 405 (aka, the Westside’s largest parking lot) as part of a billion dollar freeway-widening project. (Don’t we know by now that widening a freeway actually induces more traffic because it encourages driving?) The amount of irrational widespread national media coverage of the “impending shut down” spoke volumes about the general public’s negative impression of Los Angeles as an auto-obsessed town utterly dependent on the car where a single freeway closure could incapacitate all Angelenos!
Yesterday, Downtown LA celebrated the grand opening of two new parklets along Spring Street in the Historic Core, which has become one of the most densely populated neighborhoods in Downtown LA now active with pedestrians and bicyclists almost around the clock. In case you’re not quite sure what a “parklet” is, they’re basically mini parks extended from the sidewalk that replace usually one or two metered parking spots. The most amazing thing about these parklets — besides the fact that they actually do expand our public space — is that they represent a change in attitude about what Los Angeles should be. In Los Angeles a decade ago, if you were to propose getting rid of a parking spot for any reason whatsoever, the pitch forks and torches would be coming out in mob form. And in some backward places in LA, that’s still the case unfortunately (I’m looking at you West LA).