in Housing

Better Than Just a Parking Garage

This morning, I got news that a real estate developer intends to build a set of twin skyscrapers in the Arts District in Los Angeles. The proposed towers, to rise to 58 stories over 14 acres, is mixed-used in that it’ll house residences, offices, hotels, shops, a charter school, and parking (most of it underground). The developer is SunCal, and they’re based in Irvine in Orange County.

Rendering shows the towers relative to the rest of downtown (Herzog & de Meuron)

Rendering shows the towers relative to the rest of downtown (Herzog & de Meuron)

Personally this news resonates with me because I once lived in the Arts District before the more recent developments of trendy restaurants and coffee shops. This development seems to suggest that much of the growth in Los Angeles, along with its identity, is increasingly focused eastward.

This is good news for advocates of public and alternative transportation. Currently the Metro Gold Line operates like a horseshoe that goes from Azusa, into Little Tokyo/Union Station, then back out to East LA. A Regional Connector is also being built with a forecasted completion date of 2020 that connects the Little Tokyo Station to 7th and Flower, which has trains to Santa Monica and Long Beach. Ridership will increase, along with use of the bike shares that Metro recently installed around the Downtown.

The impact of this project is bittersweet. On one hand, building denser housing will alleviate the rising costs of rent in Los Angeles, though given that Los Angeles attracts newcomers, it’s possible that the completion of this development would open the floodgates in terms of continuing development. The other is seeing less wealthy residents being pushed out of the city core. Skid Row in Los Angeles is a homeless community that has one of the greatest population in the country.

The final result could be an urban core that discourages crosstown commutes, where most living is centralized and pedestrian friendly. So yes, this is better than just a parking garage – we happen to need this more.