DTLA - People across Los Angeles regularly complain about pothole-filled streets and sidewalks that are buckled from overgrown tree roots. City and private groups try to keep up with that. Last week, Fashion District stakeholders came together to celebrate a project that addressed damaged infrastructure and improved pedestrian access.
A coterie of community leaders gathered on Los Angeles Street on the morning of Tuesday, May 15, to celebrate the completion of a $2 million streetscape repair program. The work took place on Los Angeles Street between Seventh Street and Olympic Boulevard, and encompassed approximately 13,000 square feet of sidewalk repairs. The project also included new signage, lighting and plants.
The Fashion District Business Improvement District had been trying to launch such a project since 2007, according to BID Executive Director Rena Masten Leddy. The work was needed not just for dealing with aging infrastructure, but also to adapt to a changing neighborhood.
Los Angeles Street has historically housed menswear and fashion shops, along with designer showrooms, Leddy said. However, the residential population is growing, as is the creative office sector. She pointed to the Norton Building at 755 S. Los Angeles St., which a developer is remodeling as part of a larger creative office campus.
“There’s a number of things that are happening in this district and changing the makeup of the retail,” she said. “This improved streetscape is going to entice and help businesses thrive.”
In addition to sidewalk repairs, the work included adding 27 new trees to the three-block area, along with 14 crosswalks, Americans With Disabilities Act-compliant ramps, and 18 pedestrian lights. The final component, 13 new trash bins, will be installed in coming weeks.
The improvements were funded by a $1.9 million grant from the Metropolitan Transportation Authority. The Fashion District BID contributed another $50,000, and worked with the Bureau of Street Services and the office of 14th District City Councilman José Huizar.
Work took approximately a year, and Leddy noted that business owners along Los Angeles Street had to put up with a lot of aggravation during the construction. She said that although the work seems simple, it required extensive coordination between businesses, the BID and city departments.
Huizar said the improvements will not only make Los Angeles Street safer for pedestrians, it will also help the continued growth in the Fashion District.
“We strongly believe livable cities are walkable cities,” Huizar said. “In order to restore Downtown to its former glory, we must build the necessary improvements to make it easy for people to come by foot, bus, bike or car. I’m proud to champion complete streets. Increased safety and access leads to more foot traffic, community building and more business.”
The Los Angeles Street improvements are part of an ongoing series of efforts to upgrade Downtown streets and make them more attractive for people on foot and bicycle. A previous project reduced vehicular lanes on Broadway. The $20 million MyFigueroa effort is expanding cycling and pedestrian access along the Figueroa Corridor, while similar work is occurring on Main and Spring streets.
© Los Angeles Downtown News 2018