Category Archives: mass transportation

Cafe Crepe of Santa Monica to Open Second Location in Union Station Downtown LA

Cafe Crepe opening later this year will replace the long shuttered Union Bagel space inside Union Station in Downtown LA

Cafe Crepe opening later this year will replace the long shuttered Union Bagel space inside Union Station in Downtown LA

More eateries are coming to Union Station in Downtown LA! A very popular crepe restaurant from Santa Monica located on Third Street Promenade called Cafe Crepe (they’re originally from Canada with locations in Vancouver and Toronto) will be opening later this year taking over a space once occupied by Union Bagel, which shuttered three years ago in 2011. According to a manager at Cafe Crepe I spoke to, the lease was just signed and they are hoping to open before the end of this year. The new eatery will sit directly across from the much revered fine dining Traxx Restaurant, which has been operating since 1997. Cafe Crepe will also have patio seating like Traxx and add to a growing number of new businesses opening inside LA’s landmark train station including T & Y Bakery opening soon.

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Peek Inside Exciting Upgrades Happening at Union Station in Downtown LA

Although not yet operational, a new towering interactive kiosk has been installed in the east portal that will allow transit users to navigate the metro system and surrounding interest points

Although not yet operational, a new towering interactive kiosk has been installed in the east portal that will allow transit users to navigate the metro system and surrounding interest points

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.

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Stephen Kane Running for DLANC: “Safer Streets, Redoing Pershing Square, More Transit” in Downtown LA

Native Angeleno Stephen Kane is hoping to contribute his love and passion for Downtown LA by running for Downtown LA Neighborhood Council (Photo: Stephen Kane)

Native Angeleno Stephen Kane is hoping to contribute his love and passion for Downtown LA by running for Downtown LA Neighborhood Council (Photo: Stephen Kane)

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.

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New Wayfinding Signs, More Upgrades Coming Soon to Union Station in Downtown LA

The busiest rail station west of the Mississippi, Union Station in Downtown LA, is getting some exciting upgrades by the end of spring 2014 including new wayfinding and interactive electronic signs

The busiest rail station west of the Mississippi, Union Station in Downtown LA, is getting some exciting upgrades by the end of spring 2014 including new wayfinding and interactive electronic signs

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.

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ULI FutureBuild Event Will Unveil Radical Reinventions of Downtown LA and Beyond


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.

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Russian-Style “T & Y Bakery” Coming to Union Station in Downtown LA

Coming this spring, Russian-style T & Y Bakery will be building out a new food stall in Union Station opening next to Ben & Jerry's

Coming this spring, Russian-style T & Y Bakery will be building out a new food stall in Union Station opening next to Ben & Jerry’s

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.

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Los Angeles Getting Its “Train Mojo” Back: Amtrak Metropolitan Lounge Now Open at Union Station in Downtown LA

An exciting new Amtrak Metropolitan Lounge is now open at Union Station catering to Amtrak train passengers

An exciting new Amtrak Metropolitan Lounge is now open at Union Station catering to Amtrak train passengers

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.

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Feast Your Eyes: Latest Renderings Revealed for The Bloc Makeover in Downtown LA

A new vantage point revealed in this rendering of the Hope Street side with an updated Sheraton Hotel entrance

A new vantage point revealed in this rendering of the Hope Street side with an updated Sheraton Hotel entrance

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.

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ULI Los Angeles: Transit Oriented LA (aka ToLA) Re-Envisions Transportation Design

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.

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Brigham Yen Featured on FOX 11 News: Discusses “Downtown LA’s Renaissance”

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

Macy's Plaza

Major upgrades are coming to Macy’s Plaza after being acquired by The Ratkovich Company

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.

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Construction Watch: “One Santa Fe” Mixed-Use to Bring 438 Apartments to Arts District in Downtown LA

The One Santa Fe mixed-use project will bring 438 new apartments for rent along with almost 80,000 square feet of dining, retail, and possibly a new grocery store

The One Santa Fe mega mixed-use project will bring 438 new apartments for rent along with almost 80,000 square feet of dining, retail, and possibly a new grocery store to the burgeoning 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).

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Wetzel’s Pretzels Now Open at 7th/Metro Subway Station in Downtown LA

A new Wetzel's Pretzels sign points down toward the 7th/Metro subway station entrance where the new chain eatery is now open

A new Wetzel’s Pretzels sign points down toward the 7th/Metro subway station entrance where the new chain eatery is now open

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!

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New Modern Subway Station Canopies Help Elevate Transit in Los Angeles

The newly completed station canopy at Pershing Square gives the station a stronger identity and higher visibility

The newly completed STV-designed station canopy at Pershing Square gives the station a stronger identity and higher visibility

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.

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Ideas for Downtown LA: Using Grand Central Terminal NYC as a Model for LA Union Station

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 relevant as one of New York's top destinations

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.

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