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Downtown Los Angeles Gets a $10 Billion Remake Development Boom Is Seen Reviving City Core
By John Pomfret Washington Post Staff Writer Monday, January 2, 2006; A03
LOS ANGELES -- They say Los Angeles is 100 suburbs looking for a city. With any luck, they are finding one.
A development boom worth $10 billion is remaking the face of downtown Los Angeles, leading boosters to predict a renaissance in what used to be the desolate center of the capital of sprawl. From concert halls to condos, developers have built or are planning hundreds of projects that they say will end the sense of Los Angeles as a rudderless megalopolis with a rotten core.
"They used to say, 'There's no there there,' " said Margie Busch, a 30-something financial analyst who moved to a downtown loft recently with her girlfriend, Suzie Jones, a waitress and aspiring actress. "But we're here and we're happening. L.A. is changing. It's becoming a city."
According to the Downtown Center Business Improvement District, developers are planning to more than triple the number of residential units from 8,000 to 27,000 in the next four years. Despite worries about a real estate slowdown, condo waiting lists continue to grow, even though prices have doubled in two years. (Prices have not doubled in two years) In October, a building with 191 condos sold out in seven hours. Other projects were fully booked 18 months before they were built.
"When I started here five years ago, they said downtown would never work," said Hal Bastian, the vice president of the Downtown Center Business Improvement District. "Now they are saying it's too hot."
To be sure, downtown Los Angeles faces enormous problems as it seeks to transform itself from a gritty urban landscape into the Manhattan of the West Coast.
The area has 6,000 homeless people, the most concentrated population of the destitute in the western United States. More pets than children live downtown, and no schools serve the area. (Plenty of schools serve and have always served downtown. Only a few small schools are located in downtown right now, but a number are being built downtown right now)
Because much of downtown was rebuilt at the height of the automobile age, at some intersections its impossible to walk across the street. (Huh? Yeah, a very few, but no more than another other city)
At night, the area is desolate and its nightlife is more like a dusk life. (The sidewalks may not be exactly packed to put it mildly - but there is plenty going on well after dark) The kitchen at the swankiest restaurant, Pinot, closes at 9. (Cafe Pinot - not Pinot - is hardly downtown's 'swankiest' restaurant - and most nights it is open to 9:30 or 10 PM - AND it closes earlier than almost any other high end restaurant downtown. Many are open much later)
It is impossible to hail a cab because the police department refuses to allow random stops, but even if it did, most Los Angeles cabbies would not take short fares. (It is relatively easy to hail a cab in downtown, but there is now a proposal to allow cabs to be exempt from certain traffic laws when they are hailed. And drivers do take short fares, but there is a proposal to have a lower falt fee for short trips to enourage more of them. The writer misinterpted some reforms that are being proposed.)
Local redevelopment boards have hired their own security services and trash collection services because city services are stretched too thin. (WRONG! Private BID's - not redevelopment boards - hire them just as they do in almost all major downtown areas - and Washington DC has a 140 block BID so there is really no excuse for getting this so wrong)
And there is a lot more if you follow the above link - but you get the idea...