Have you ever looked at a 1940s, ’50s or ’60s postcard of Wilshire Boulevard in the Miracle Mile area and marveled at how much it has changed since then (and not always for the better)? And have you been wondering what that stretch of Wilshire might look like 10 or 15 years from now? The answer is “very different.” And the reason will be the Purple Line subway extension…which will run underground along Wilshire Blvd. but is already sparking discussions and planning for big changes above ground as well.
One example popped up on the Op/Ed page of the LA Times on Tuesday. In the essay, “L.A.’s Purple Line subway plan is bad news for the arts,” architecture critic Greg Goldin laments Metro’s plans to raze the buildings that are currently home to the A+D Museum, Edward Cella Art+Architecture and the Steve Turner Contemporary galleries to make space for subway construction staging near Wilshire and Fairfax. Goldin suggests there are other large open spaces in the area that would be equally suited for such staging, without taking out a large chunk of the famed Museum Row. But he also makes the point that those buildings are being targeted not only because of their staging potential…but because of their worth for later Transit-Oriented Development (TOD).
And what is “Transit-Oriented Development”? If you’re not familiar with those words, don’t worry – you soon will be.
In planning-speak, “Transit-Oriented Development” refers to increasing the density along major transit routes – with larger residential buildings, retail, mixed-use developments, hotels and offices that can put as many people into the area – and onto those expensive subways – as possible. The places where most Transit-Oriented Development will happen are at and near our new subway stops. So we not only have several years of actual underground subway construction to look forward to near our area’s two proposed stations (Wilshire/La Brea and Wilshire/Fairfax) but also a subsequent tsunami of TOD that will forever change our visible stretch of Wilshire Blvd. (Just how much will it change? Well, Metro estimates that the Wilshire/La Brea intersection right now is only about 1/3 as dense as the current zoning allows. Which means we can expect to see density there tripling – at least – by the time all is said and done.)
And when do those discussions start? Right now.
On Thursday, April 26, from 12 p.m. to 2 p.m., City Council Member Tom LaBonge will speak at an event called “Learning from Livability: Lessons from The Miracle Mile For Transit-Oriented Development,” which is part of BreatheLA’s 5th annual BREATHE LA Green Salon Series. The panel discussion and Q&A – which will also feature John Given (CIM Group), Jeff Jacobberger (Mid City West Community Council), Dr. Alexander Kalamaros (Metro) and Stephen Kramer (Miracle Mile Chamber of Commerce) – will “explore how we can create more vibrant communities in Los Angeles through examining the case of the Miracle Mile.” And it may provide an early, but very important, sneak peek into the kinds of development planned for the Miracle Mile in the next few years. (Contact (323) 935-8050 ext. 256, or [email protected] to RSVP. Breathe LA is located at 5858 Wilshire Blvd.)
So we know there are big things coming…but they may be even bigger than you imagined, and they’re not as far off as you may think. The time is now to join the conversation and help shape the future of our beloved Wilshire Boulevard.
Thanks for keeping those of us in Greater Wilshire up-to-date on how city planning for the future affects those of us who are here now.