Friday, January 06, 2006

A Not Completely Semi-Dumb Ass Article About Downtown Los Angeles!

The above New Years Day Chicago Tribune article actually talks with many of the right players and - mostly - gets its fact correct.

But... what it gets wrong is that of the thirteen theaters on Broadway at least four of them are still theaters and have not been converted to other uses. The Orpheum is up and running as was stated, but both the Palace and the Los Angeles are still theaters and will be used as live theaters more and more this year - and not just as theaters where movies are shot and the Million Dollar is re-opening as a theater primarily with concerts.

And while the inestimable Trudi Sandmeir was the Los Angeles Conservancy's Director of the Broadway Initiative when the article was written, she is now head of the county wide educational programming for the Conservancy.

Also, 1920's bungalows in Los Angeles do NOT sell for an average price of $800,000 and the average income of new loft dwellers is NOT $150,000. That may be the average income of those buying the ground-up new condos from that developer, but most of the new residents still rent in older converted buildings.

Lastly, a number of downtown neighborhoods are near (i.e., directly impacted by) Skid Row - however, South Park - is not one of them. In fact it is the residential district that is the furtherest from Skid Row and is less directly impacted by Skid Row than any other major downtown residential neighborhood.

But enough of the bad news. Here're some excerpts from the article:

Condo boom rejuvenates downtown Los Angeles

John Handley Chicago TribuneJan. 1, 2006 12:00 AM

LOS ANGELES - Opulent movie palaces once starred on this city's Broadway, California's version of the Great White Way.Built between 1910 and 1931, these ornate theaters were venues for vaudeville and premieres of Hollywood films. That glitz and glamour are long gone. Broadway and the surrounding streets gradually sank into decay.

But now the core of the city is the stage for a rebirth. Long called a cluster of suburbs in search of a city, LA Los Angeles boasts an impressive downtown with contrasting neighborhoods such as South Park, Bunker Hill, the Historic Core and the Jewelry, Fashion and Financial districts.

About 4,000 housing units have been created downtown since 1999, and 6,000 more should be completed in two years, said Carol Schatz, president and chief executive officer of the Central City Association and the Downtown Center Business Improvement District in Los Angeles.

"The future of downtown is looking fantastic. At 1.5 people per unit, that means 15,000 new downtown residents," Schatz said. "This used to be a 9-to-5 downtown. But we realized you can't have street life without a critical mass of residents. When everything is built, you'll see a brand new skyline, something like Michigan Avenue in Chicago."

One of the old movie palaces, the 1926 Orpheum Theatre, is topped with 37 rental units, said Trudi Sandmeir, Broadway Initiative coordinator for the Los Angeles Conservancy. The Orpheum, which showcased vaudeville performers Judy Garland, George Burns and Jack Benny, has been restored. ..

...Schatz credits an adaptive reuse ordinance passed by the city in 1999 as one of the catalysts of redevelopment. "It helped to encourage developers to invest in empty buildings. The ordinance reduced the parking requirement for older buildings and made changes in fire and life safety codes, which were more stringent than those in New York and Chicago," partly because of the threat of earthquakes, she said.

Another event in 1999 brought new life downtown."Los Angeles was jump-started by the construction of the Staples Center," said basketball legend Magic Johnson at the fall meeting of Urban Land Institute. Johnson said that the new arena attracted people downtown and opened the door to more real estate investment.

A 24-hour location Blocks of street-level parking lots surrounding the Staples Center will sprout a crop of new condo towers, and developers are predicting this will transform downtown into a 24-hour location.

"Finally, LA will have a center that's worthy of the city," said Tom Cody, principal in the South Group, based in Portland, Ore., which plans to build 2,000 condo units downtown."LA still is in its infancy. . . . Downtown LA will explode," he said.Demand is being fueled by people who "are young, fairly affluent, hip and creative," Cody said...

... North of Los Angeles Convention Center is the future site of LA Live, a 5 million-square-foot entertainment complex that will have a 7,100-seat theater for live entertainment, 14-screen movie theater, 50-story hotel, restaurants and shopping.

"It will be a regional draw as well as a convenient attraction for all the new downtown residents," Schatz said. Across from the arena is a parking lot that has been proposed as the site of two residential towers with 650 units to be built by KB Home and Lennar Corp.

We know from KB Home's extensive market research that downtown Los Angeles is where many people want to reside," said Jeffrey Gault, president of KB Urban, a division of the builder.

Marshall Ames, vice president of investor relations for Miami-based Lennar, said it is "too premature to comment" on the details of the project. Burcher added that downtown is hot because of the availability of land and the convenience of the nearby freeways. The area is bounded roughly by the Hollywood, Harbor and Santa Monica freeways and the Los Angeles River.

Jack Kyser, chief economist at the Los Angeles County Economic Development Corp., said the outlook is favorable for residential development of downtown. "We've rolled out to the edge and run out of developable land. Now we're coming back in. . . .

And there is more at the top link...

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