DOWNTOWN LOS ANGELES - The Central City is buzzing, and 2015 will be filled with groundbreakings and project openings. Others developments and key pieces of infrastructure, however, remain in a state of limbo, and while they might kick into gear this year, they might not. Below are six projects — including one that broke down — that have big question marks hanging over them.
A Streetcar Named Expensive: The Los Angeles Streetcar, once pegged at $125 million, is now expected to cost $250 million or more. Up to $85 million of that could be secured through taxes levied on area property owners, but the rest of it — well, there’s the rub. Fourteenth District City Councilman José Huizar, who has spearheaded the project as part of his Bringing Back Broadway initiative, intends to seek federal funds, including a $75 million grant from the Federal Transit Administration, for the project. Huizar’s office has also discussed public-private funding mechanisms. However, financing for the 3.8-mile streetcar that would loop from South Park to the Civic Center, with a main spur on Broadway, remains unsettled. Perhaps things will become clearer once the project’s draft environmental impact report is completed early this year.
Follow the Bouncing Football: Talk about all or nothing: Anschutz Entertainment Group’s proposed L.A. Live football stadium will either be Downtown Los Angeles’ biggest project or an expensive pipe dream. In October the city gave AEG a six-month extension on its plan to build the 68,000-seat Farmers Field. Its fate should be known in February, as that is when any NFL team intending to relocate has to inform the league of its plans, and AEG has long said it won’t put shovels in the ground without a deal with a team and the league. All environmental documents have been secured and AEG officials in the past said they have spent tens of millions of dollars on the project so far. If it does move forward, the $1.4 billion effort will change not only L.A.’s football future, but will include a renovation of the Convention Center.
Clifton’s Edge: When will the renovation of the 1935 Clifton’s Cafeteria be complete? Who knows? Property owner Andrew Meieran has hit delay after delay after delay after delay since beginning a renovation of the oxtails and Jell-O serving landmark at 648 S. Broadway. If it does open in 2015, the renamed Clifton’s Cabinet of Curiosities would offer multiple dining and drinking establishments, including a version of the classic cafeteria, a tiki bar, a steakhouse and a bakery.
Taking the ‘Fun’ Out of Funicular: The only action at Angels Flight, the short railway that connects Cal Plaza and Hill Street across from Grand Central Market, is the occasional test run. The funicular derailed in September 2013 and a subsequent investigation found both mechanical issues and human errors. The biggest reveal was that Angels Flight operators, faced with an electrical problem that made the railway run erratically, used a tree branch to keep a start/stop button depressed. The National Transportation Safety Board and the California Public Utilities Commission have said they will not OK a reopening until the Angels Flight Railway Foundation, which runs the funicular, builds a track-adjacent evacuation walkway. There are still no plans for that to happen, which means that people going from the Historic Core to Cal Plaza continue to get the exercise that comes from climbing 153 steps.
Green Dreams: The concrete remains of a former state office building have been cleared from the northwest corner of First and Spring streets. Now it’s a big spread of dirt that will become a city park. The question is, what kind of park, and how will it tie in to the adjacent Grand Park? The design process for the proposed $10 million attraction will take place throughout 2015, with multiple opportunities for public input on features. Although no timeline for construction has been announced, even the present state is a welcome turnaround: The nearly two-acre site had been sitting stagnant since 1971, when the office structure was shuttered following the Sylmar earthquake. It soon became a graffiti-scarred eyesore across from City Hall.
Blaze of Non-Glory: One of the two buildings in developer Geoff Palmer’s massive five-story, 526-unit apartment complex the Da Vinci went up in flames in the early morning hours of Dec. 8. In the days after the fire Palmer said he intends to open the other part of the Italian/Mediterranean-style complex, at 909 W. Temple St., as soon as this month, and that he will rebuild the structure that burned down. Whether this will actually happen remains unknown.
© Los Angeles Downtown News 2014