South LA Street Improvement Project Moves Forward, Times Unhappy


Artist's Rendering of South Figueroa After Funded Streetscape Improvements

What would you think of a government grant funding $22.5 million for streetscape improvements on Figueroa Street in South Los Angeles to support biking, walking and transit usage? What if the same project allocated another 7.5 million will be used to renovate Expo Park, build a new Venice-Hope Recreation Center, transform the concrete plaza at the Convention Center into a storm water retention demonstration park and study building a new transit hub over the Harbor Fwy. at Adams Blvd.? And what if that proposal also would also help bring 400 new affordable housing units to the area?

If you're the LA Times, you think, "yuck, who wants any of that?"

In the past couple of weeks, the Times wrote not once, but twice about the proposal (before and after it received funding from a state committee) complaining that the project was only funded because it was an insider deal that will benefit the LA Live entertainment development and not lower income communities. Basically, the Times' articles are heavy on political conspiracy, but low on any sort of evaluation of the actual proposals which include a broad range of improvements to a much larger area.

Fortunately, representatives of the Community Redevelopment Agency (CRA/LA) with joint applicants of the Figueroa Corridor Partnership Business Improvement District and the South Park Business and Community Benefit Business Improvement District were happy to supply Streetsblog with a list of improvements funded by the grant that will link South Los Angeles to Downtown. To get more details, and draw your own conclusion whether or not this was a good use of state funds, read on after the jump.

Figueroa Street and 11th Street Streetscape
Implement established L.A. Sports and Entertainment District streetscape design standards between 7th Street and Venice Boulevard along Figueroa Street and 11th Street between Figueroa Street and Broadway, including sidewalk paving, parkway planting, street trees, transit stops/shelters, and pedestrian lighting. Also, implement newly established streetscape design standards that continue the design standard of the L.A. Sports and Entertainment streetscape design standards south to Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard along Figueroa Street

Martin Luther King, Jr. Boulevard Streetscape
Design and build streetscape improvements including new street trees, transit shelters, pedestrian lighting, and new landscaped median to connect Figueroa Street along the southern edge of Expo Park to Vermont Avenue. This further extends the connectivity from South Los Angeles neighborhoods to the Figueroa Corridor and connection to Downtown and the Exposition Light Rail line.

Washington Boulevard Streetscape (from Figueroa Street to Broadway)
Design and build streetscape improvements including new street trees, transit shelters, and pedestrian lighting to support the existing Blue Line light rail corridor between Figueroa Street and Broadway. This improves a current blighted transit corridor that does not welcome walkability between existing and planned mixed use housing and the public transit in the area.

Venice-Hope Recreation Center
Public Private partnership between CRA/LA and California Hospital Medical Center to provide community education and recreation facility for new and existing residents in the South Park neighborhood. Currently, the neighborhood is seriously underserved for recreational and educational opportunities.

Exposition Park Sports Fields
Transform an under-improved open space into a multi-use state-of-the-art sports field to serve South Los Angeles neighborhood. The area currently is "park poor" and does not provide sufficient recreation facilities for the local South Los Angeles community and a critically underserved population living in among the most densely populated neighborhoods in the city.

Gilbert Lindsay Park at the L.A. Convention Center
Transform current Convention Center frontage into a pedestrian friendly, usable open space. This new area will provide additional "park" space for local area residents, as well as the millions of visitors to the Convention Center.

Freeway Cap Park Feasibility Study
Funding for engineering and design feasibility study to build a "cap" over the 110 Freeway near Adams Boulevard to provided needed green and open space for the adjacent park poor neighborhood. With the addition of residential and mixed used projects in the area, the already "park poor" community is in need of more open space. This project could create a park in what is now a tear in the neighborhood as a result of the below grade freeway.

New Housing Units being Supported:
The grant application is designed to fund infrastructure improvements that support the transformation of the Qualified Infill Area from a mostly commercial/industrial area to a residential and mixed-use neighborhood. Currently, the infrastructure improvements will support over 400 units of affordable housing and 1600 units of market rate housing. The balance between affordable and market rate housing is at 20%. Additionally, the infrastructure is meant to attract other developers to invest in the neighborhood and further create both market rate and affordable housing that is close to transit, jobs and other amenities. Specific developments "in the pipeline" supported by this grant applications include:

  • The YWCA/Jobs Corps at Olive Street between 11th Street and Olympic - 100% affordable housing project with 200 affordable units
  • Morrison Hotel at Pico Boulevard and Hope Street - 100% affordable housing project with 84 units
  • Pierce Brothers Mortuary Site at Washington Boulevard west of the 110 Freeway - 100% affordable housing project with 60 units
  • Community Financial Resource Center CFRC Site at 41st Place and Figueroa Street - 100% affordable housing project with 65 units
  • 8th and Hope - 100% market rate with 209 units
  • Fashion Industry of Design and Merchandising at Flower Street and Olympic Boulevard - 100% market rate housing with 112 units
  • Figueroa South Phase One at Figueroa Street between Pico Boulevard and 12th Streets- 100% market rate with 330 units
  • 1133 So. Hope - 100% market rate with 159 units
  • 1500 S. Figueroa - 100% market rate with 113units
  • 2100 S. Figueroa - 100% market rate with 108 units
  • University Gateway at Jefferson and Figueroa - 100% market rate with 421 units
Image: CRA/LA and Rios Clemente Hale Studios