Saturday! Leimert Park Celebrates 2nd Annual 20|20 Vision Charette with People St Plaza Launch

Adinkra symbols for Unity and Human Relations (Nkonsonkonson -- "chain link" -- at bottom right) and "Except for God" (Gye Nyame), intended as a nod to the spirituality of the Ghanaian people (the symbol is prevalent there) have already been painted on a few dots in the Plaza. Sahra Sulaiman/Streetsblog L.A.
Adinkra symbols for Unity and Human Relations (Nkonsonkonson — “chain link” — at bottom right) and “Except for God” (Gye Nyame), intended as a nod to the spirituality of the Ghanaian people (the symbol is prevalent there) have already been painted on a few dots in the Plaza. The Plaza officially opens this Saturday. Sahra Sulaiman/Streetsblog L.A.

It is noon on a Monday.

The weekly Leimert Park Village (LPV) stakeholders meeting has just finished, and Sherri Franklin, founder of the Urban Design Center, and Romerol Malveaux, former Field Director for the Department of Neighborhood Empowerment, are leading a small group of people on a walk around the village streets.

Map in hand, Franklin is taking note of existing issues with the sidewalks, trees (or lack of), pedestrian lighting, planters, and street furniture. The notes will be used to help determine how the Prop 1C dollars Leimert Park received should be deployed to improve the streetscape.

It’s not an altogether uncommon scene.

Since the launch of the Leimert Park Village Stakeholders 20|20 Vision Initiative in January 2014, it seems there is always work to be done.

The 20|20 Vision Initiative was born out of the LPV stakeholders’ desire to harness the change the Leimert Park station will bring to the area when the Crenshaw/LAX rail line is completed in 2020. The nearly 200 stakeholders in attendance focused on developing an overarching vision for the area and what they would need to do to make that vision a reality. Participants debated how to make Leimert Park a destination, deepen relationships with sister cities or communities, attract investors looking to build partnerships with local artists and cultural caretakers, support black creatives and foster development from within the community, and the possibility of turning the space in front of the Vision Theater into a car-free plaza.

Since that initial charette, LPV stakeholders have been meeting every Monday morning to hone those plans and move forward on their implementation.

A year and a half later, their People St Plaza project is set to open in a ceremony this Saturday, June 27, at 2 p.m.

But instead of the Plaza symbolizing the end of the journey and cause to take a breath, it seems more like a beginning. Or maybe a benchmark. But definitely not an end. To wit, the ceremony will be taking place during a break for those attending tomorrow’s Second Annual LPV 20|20 Vision Initiative Charette, “Harnessing Our Cultural Economy.”

This year’s charette will be focused on planning for public parking lots on either side of Degnan Blvd. They stand largely empty, outside of the community’s signature festival days, and are ripe, the stakeholders say, for development. But they wanted to get the community’s perspective first, before the Urban Land Institute Technical Advisory Panel comes in and does their assessment of the area’s potential in early August.

The layout of Leimert Park Village. The plaza is sited to run in front of building numbers 2, 3, and 4. The east and west parking lots are sited for redevelopment. Source: LeimertParkVillage.org

So far, stakeholders seem clear on the idea they don’t want big box stores. With the plans to revamp the Baldwin Hills Crenshaw Plaza just up the street, they don’t need them. And such shops would be out of line with the character of Leimert Park, which looks to build on its brand as a unique hub for African-American arts, culture, and innovation.

Stakeholders would prefer to leave space for retail and some of the smaller community-based initiatives that they have talked about pursuing in line with that brand, such as a prep kitchen modeled on Lincoln Heights’ L.A. Prep or versatile businesses that can support dual-use storefronts (e.g. gallery by day, production studio by night), in line with the idea of turning the whole of Leimert Park Village into a living production studio (see more on that concept, here).

Other topics slated for discussion on Saturday include, “Cultural Sustainability through an Adaptive Eco District,” “Own the Media!” (generating radio and visual content), place-based development projects, and lessons learned from adaptive reuse of vacant and underutilized properties in other communities.

If you haven’t registered for tomorrow’s charette, RSVP to the LPV website. Take their stakeholder survey, here. And plan on coming by Sunday, as well, for the annual Mask Festival honoring the ancestors, art walk, free bike repair and ride with Ride On! and Black Kids on Bike, and good food and fun.

The Charette and People St launch:

WHEN
June 27, 2015 at 8:30 a.m. – 4 p.m. (People St opening at 2 p.m.)
WHERE
Vision Theatre & People Street
3341 W 43rd Pl.
Google map and directions
  • fnarf

    Leimert Park Village might want to correct that map, which shows “Travis Smiley”. The name is Tavis.

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