For some time I’ve been writing about all the major developments in the pipeline. Six major Mid-City projects are on the verge of becoming reality over the next few months.
Separately, they seem like fairly well thought out developments. But, as a whole, they’ll completely transform a couple of quiet blocks in the eastern Mid-City area into a major commercial center. Supporters say, “It’s about jobs and housing.” Detractors bemoan huge increases in traffic and congestion (as if Olympic Boulevard isn’t already a rush-hour parking lot).
Last September, the City Council approved a new 160,000-square-foot corporate headquarters for Agensys, Inc. at 1800 Stewart St. However, they rejected in March a flawed 960,000-square-foot Bergamot Transit Village development proposal from Texas developer Hines. Hines’ re-imagining of their project for the Paper Mate site at Olympic, Stewart and 26th Street could be back to the City Council in a few months.
Tuesday, council reviewed a proposal for the five floor, mixed-use Roberts Business Center at 2848-2912 Colorado Ave. — 250,000 square feet of “creative office space” on 2.8 acres. The project would consist of studio and post production space, 150 to 170 housing units, a private gym and about 530 spaces of subterranean parking.
Directly west, Colorado Creative Studios or Lionsgate (named after the entertainment firm that plans to lease the space as a corporate headquarters) is a proposed four floor, 192,000-square-foot “creative office complex” with three levels of subterranean parking for 640 vehicles and 64 bicycles on 1.76 acres at 2834 Colorado Ave. It will be before council on July 26.
Both projects will feature multiple structures and meet “sustainable” construction/operation requirements. They’ll replace a number of small 1940s and 1950s era industrial shops. I’m already thinking I’d rather have the neighborhood serving, mom and pop repair shops.
The third major project is the adjacent Village Trailer Park at 2930 Colorado Ave. Developer Marc Luzzatto has suggested a similar, mixed-use complex for his 3.85 acre site to include housing (some of which would be made available to current residents of the site’s decrepit mobile home park), offices, “creative studio space,” neighborhood retail uses and 469 spaces of underground parking.
The long-in-the-works development (mainly due to relocation concerns for the site’s elderly and low-income residents) will also be before council in the upcoming months with an updated plan.
The three developers promise a smorgasbord of “community benefits” such as neighborhood-oriented retail space, money for beautifying Expo light rail stops, transportation demand management programs, bicycle amenities, community rooms and open public plazas.
For example, “the public” rarely use park or open space on private property. Just look at the grounds at the Yahoo! Center or Water Garden. They’re almost always empty. Pray tell, what “public” does this benefit?
Two new streets would be created to facilitate bicycle, pedestrian and vehicular circulation between the Bergamot Expo stop, the projects themselves and surrounding residential neighborhoods.
Despite promises of being environmentally friendly, these developments will still generate thousands of additional vehicle trips and irreparable congestion that will be felt far from the Mid-City. Try as far north as Wilshire Boulevard to as far south as the Venice border. And, beyond.
We’re not finished, yet. Paseo Nebraska is a proposed 356,793 square foot, mixed-use, “creative office” and residential development on 3.26 acres at 3025 Olympic Blvd. — between Berkeley and Stanford streets and Nebraska Avenue. It’ll consist of retail and creative space, 525 housing units, parking for 1,000 vehicles and a roster of “public benefits.” It’s just a couple of short blocks from Bergamot Transit Village and the Colorado trio.
Adding up the vehicle trips — Lionsgate: 1,796 net new daily car trips, according to its draft environmental impact report; Roberts Business Center: 2,100; and Village Trailer Park: 2,000. All together it’s 5,896 additional daily trips. Add Agensys, Bergamot Transit Village and Paseo Nebraska, and we’re at 10,000 to 12,000 additional daily trips — a 50 percent increase over current levels just within a few years.
Add Expo stops, Santa Monica College and New Roads School expansions plus a new multi-story hotel and, like “Showtime,” there are “no limits.”
Despite the coming Expo line, the traffic, pollution, congestion, resource demands and crowding will only get much worse. Add “public benefits” that don’t benefit the public (only political agendas) and we’re in for a royal screwing.
Maybe it’s time to say, “We’re as mad as hell, and we’re not going to take this anymore.”
New blog in town
My neighbor John Marciano, a retired State University of New York “Social and Historical Foundations of Education” professor, has started a blog armchair government watchers may enjoy. It’s all about empire, imperialism, war and related U.S. history. Heady stuff.
Recent postings include: “Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and the Iraq War,” “War costs per capita by cities and states,” “The lessons of the Vietnam War” and “Obama: change gonna come.” Check out www.teachingempire.com and liberal-ate your mind.
When not quoting Howard Beale, Bill can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.