DOWNTOWN LOS ANGELES – When Downtown’s most influential powerbrokers peered into a crystal ball this morning, they summoned a vision of Los Angeles in the year 2020. They saw millions of people navigating a cleaner, denser and more pedestrian-friendly urban fabric via bicycle, light rail, streetcar, subway and bus.
People are teeming on the streets, they say, with commuters relying on an efficient urban circulator, and tourists hopping between L.A. Live — including an expanded Convention Center and an NFL stadium — and a cultural cluster on Grand Avenue anchored by the Broad Collection museum.
That was the vision laid out during the Downtown 2020 summit, a seven-hour, three-panel event organized by the Central City Association that drew more than 300 people to the Marriott hotel.
Most of them came to hear a panel comprised of arguably the most influential business players in the Downtown scene: Eli Broad, Anschutz Entertainment Group’s Tim Leiweke and commercial real estate giants Jim Thomas and Nelson Rising. Old Bank District developer Tom Gilmore served as the moderator.
Perhaps the most exciting future project was one that is very much in a preliminary state: Leiweke said that he and Ninth District Councilwoman Jan Perry are interested in expanding the city-owned Convention Center’s footprint and adding an NFL stadium that could also host NCAA basketball tournaments and soccer events. Leiweke said AEG would manage the campus.
“If things come together with football and if we put up $1 billion and agree to backstop construction of a new West Hall then we’ll probably have to make sure the taxpayers are not at risk,” Leiweke said. “We need a lot to go right with football, but we’re at least in the game thinking about it now, working on it, talking to the city about it, and talking to the NFL about it.”
That vision is part of a larger sentiment shared by Leiweke’s panel cohorts that if Downtown is to continue to grow over the next decade, the local economy and infrastructure need to facilitate tourism. That means more conventions, which in turn means more hotels, more retail and more residential growth, panelists said.
Other panel discussions delved into current land-use issues and challenges to the area’s future development, from access to youth education options to implementing a more regional approach to combating homelessness.
The three panel conversations shared one predominating, unplanned theme: The area is desperate for better transportation systems, from more efficient freeway and street design to some kind of urban circulator project that moves people around Downtown.
Carol Schatz, president and CEO of the CCA, said the event was conceived as a way to generate a new wave of momentum toward sustained growth and economic development Downtown.
Since 1999 and the birth of the adaptive reuse ordinance, Downtown has added 27,000 residents, living in 17,000 new apartments and condominiums, according to the CCA. But Downtown needs a new catalyst for a new decade, she said.
“We need to keep this momentum going, Schatz said.
Contact Ryan Vaillancourt at firstname.lastname@example.org.