DTLA - The Downtown skyline is changing, though sometimes it’s not just what is opening that is important, but also what is planned. While it is tough to pick the most noteworthy projects in the pipeline, a few demand attention. The seven developments below are worth watching in the new year, as they will shape how people move about and how business gets done in Downtown.
Say Goodbye: Construction has begun on the replacement of the historic Sixth Street Viaduct, which is deteriorating due to a chemical reaction in the concrete. The demolition of the bridge was slated for last fall, but has been pushed to 2016. Although the new bridge will not open until 2019, the $422 million project will impact commuters who can no longer take their favorite route from Boyle Heights into Downtown, as well as Arts District denizens who will find certain streets closed and traffic occasionally snarled.
Breaking Convention: Last summer the city picked Populous and HMC Architects to redesign the aging Convention Center. Their futuristic and colorful proposal would connect the South and West halls, build a sky-lit ballroom and create a sleek, angular facade with flashes of orange-red paint. The City Council approved the $470 million plan last month, and city departments will now work with the design team to refine the engineering proposal for the overhaul. In the coming year, expect the city to explore public-private partnerships, focus on financing and determine a schedule for the South Park mega-project.
Streetcar Shuffle: Major milestones for the Los Angeles Streetcar loom in 2016. AECOM, the project manager of the 3.8-mile circulator that would run from South Park to the Civic Center, reported last June that the streetcar would cost upwards of $281 million, leaving a funding shortfall of at least $144 million. The city in coming months will likely launch a bidding campaign for a public-private partnership, which could help close the funding gap. Another big development this year could be whether the project qualifies for a $75 million federal grant. Current plans call for the streetcar to open in 2020.
A Factory Reborn: Construction continues on the 1912 Ford Factory building at Seventh Street and Santa Fe Avenue, and the project is on track to open by early summer. San Francisco-based Shorenstein Properties purchased the 254,000-square-foot edifice and two adjacent structures for $37 million in 2014, and is transforming the complex into a creative office hub with 600 parking spaces. This year’s big news will concern tenants: An effort to bring in Buzzfeed fell apart last year. If a name-brand tech tenant arrives, it would add more voltage to the Arts District.
State of the Park: The $20 million renovation of Los Angeles State Historic Park has already encountered extensive delays, and more could be coming. Work began in April 2014, with an opening slated a year later, but the discovery of contaminants and other below-ground issues have held construction up significantly. It is unclear when the park will reopen, but a glance at the site on the edge of Chinatown shows huge expanses of dirt and a lot of unfinished infrastructure. The completed project will include a visitors center and a paved promenade.
Square Deal: The city picked four finalists for the redesign of Pershing Square in late December. Those teams will create detailed design proposals before facing another round of jury interviews and public comment in March. Pershing Square Renew, the public-private collaboration in charge of the effort, will then select the winner. The other big factor to address in 2016 is cost: The winner’s design will determine the price tag, but right now no one knows where the funds will come from.
More Room for the Inn Crowd: Tourism officials continue to fret over the limited number of hotel rooms within walking distance of the Convention Center, saying it puts Los Angeles at a disadvantage to rivals such as Anaheim and San Diego. That’s why the proposed 755-room expansion of the J.W. Marriott is crucial. Anschutz Entertainment Group has said it hopes to break ground on the $500 million project in the second quarter of this year. Meeting that timeline will allow the 38-story building, with 75,000 square feet of meeting, banquet and conference space, to open in 2018. The sooner it is under construction, the sooner tourism officials can use it to woo meeting planners.
© Los Angeles Downtown News 2016