Last week, I got an awesome tour of Union Station from Metro’s Deputy Executive Officer of Countywide Planning, Jenna Hornstock. I learned about some very exciting changes coming to the busiest rail station west of the Mississippi. Basically, you have two different timelines for planned improvement projects: short term and long term changes. Both are very exciting because it means Union Station is going to get better and better and play a much more prominent and vital role in our region’s growing mass transit network.
Category Archives: mass transportation
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.
Always good to see more new businesses opening at Union Station. T & Y Bakery is coming to the west coast’s busiest rail hub by this spring. The Russian-style bakery with currently two locations — one at Farmers Market at 3rd/Fairfax and another in West Hollywood — is planning to build-out a brand new 258 square foot food stall next to Ben & Jerry’s and across from the Amtrak ticketing counter and exciting brand new Amtrak Metro Lounge. T & Y, which stands for “Tbilisi & Yerevan” (the capital cities of Georgia and Armenia respectively), will bring to Union Station the same yummy selection of pastries (like baklavas) and paninis that they’re known for in their other locations.
Los Angeles Getting Its “Train Mojo” Back: Amtrak Metropolitan Lounge Now Open at Union Station in Downtown LA
For a city known mostly for its embarrassingly robust driving culture and clogged freeways, it’s no surprise that LA lagged behind other large urban cities (i.e., New York, DC, Chicago, Philly, etc.) when it comes to train travel even though we’re the second largest city in the country. However, we are making great strides as the Pacific Surfliner — serving LA and San Diego up to Santa Barbara and San Luis Obispo — is now the busiest Amtrak route outside the northeast corridor with 2.7 million passengers in 2013. And now another symbolic sign that LA is getting its “train mojo” back is the opening of the Amtrak Metropolitan Lounge at Downtown LA’s Union Station.
Feast your eyes on the newest renderings of the exciting $160 million makeover of The Bloc (formerly Macy’s Plaza) located in the heart of Downtown LA’s Financial District bounded by bustling 7th Street, Flower and Hope, as well as 8th Street to the south. The 1.8 million square foot mixed-use project will be transformed from the current eye-sore, brick fortress into an updated, modern commercial hub of 400,000 sf of retail, 750,000 sf office, and a $40 million updated 485-room Sheraton Hotel that will contribute significantly to the unprecedented urban revitalization happening in Downtown LA.
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.
Super fun! I was on LA’s local FOX 11 news channel today discussing with co-anchors, Maria Sansone and Tony McEwing, some of the exciting things happening in Downtown LA’s urban renaissance as well as promoting DTLA Rising to more Angelenos out there.
Please enjoy the video!
Ratkovich Acquires Downtown LA Macy’s Plaza, Will Begin $160 Million Upgrade with New Access to Subway Station
One of the biggest eye sores (and embarrassments) in all of Downtown Los Angeles — the 1970s “shopping fortress” known as Macy’s Plaza — has a very bright future ahead of it. One of LA’s most respected developers, The Ratkovich Company, has successfully acquired the dated complex from Jamison Services, Inc for $241 million according to the LA Times. The purchase, which closed escrow last week, includes not only the retail portion (Macy’s, Express, Bath and Body Works, LA Fitness, etc.) but also the 23-story, 485-room Sheraton hotel and the 33-story 700 S Flower office tower totaling 2.4 million square feet. Ratkovich plans to spend $160 million to upgrade the entire complex with some very exciting changes that will dramatically alter the urban landscape of the Financial District.
Construction Watch: “One Santa Fe” Mixed-Use to Bring 438 Apartments to Arts District in Downtown LA
As the Arts District in Downtown LA continues to grow with the addition of more dining and retail — Stumptown Coffee, Eat.Drink.Americano, Poketo, and Apolis: Common Gallery to name a few — the next exciting game changer on the horizon that will have the single largest impact on the burgeoning urban neighborhood is the $160 million One Santa Fe mixed-use project being developed by three entities forming “One Santa Fe PMC, LLC” (“PMC” includes Polis Builders/Nick Patsaouras, The McGregor Company/Bill McGregor and Cowley Real Estate Partners/Chuck Cowley) with two financial partners (Goldman Sachs and Canyon-Johnson Urban Fund).
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!
Pretty much exactly a year ago, we learned that two subway stations in Downtown LA were getting new modern station canopies (courtesy of Metro) that would make the portals both more visible to riders (especially visitors unfamiliar with LA’s transit network) and to help protect the escalators and entryway from the elements. A year later, the two downtown stations — Civic Center and Pershing Square — have now completed construction on the new oval-shaped glass canopies.
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.
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:
Back in 2007, Megabus — an economical bus service popular on the East Coast and Europe — started their service in California and Nevada offering their ridiculously low $1 fare (obviously in limited quantities, of course) to popular destinations like Las Vegas, San Francisco, and San Diego. I was one of those who took advantage of the dollar fare taking the new bus service from LA to San Diego for a weekend getaway. You can’t beat a dollar. That’s why I was pretty disappointed to learn when they discontinued their service only about a year later due to low ridership numbers.
The deadline to register to vote for the LA Streetcar in Downtown LA has passed. Now registered voters within Downtown will be mailing in their votes by mail – to ensure the ballots are received on time, they should be mailed in by November 28. What direction future developments will take in Downtown LA will depend on whether residents see the value of the streetcar circulating pedestrians around town — promoting a walking culture and decreasing our dependency on the automobile — or allowing the status quo to remain perversely slanted toward a car-oriented mentality. This is LA after all, right? Wrong. I believe that most Downtown residents embrace the idea of urbanism and its car-lite or even car-free tenets.