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Sunday, January 2, 2011

Fashion District

Project Area.  Image from Curbed LA.  All Rights Reserved.
In a nice contrast in urban planning philosophies of the past two decades, we follow-up plans for a downtown sports stadium (a controversial element of many recent urban renewals) with something that might just provide what urban residents really need, namely open space, public art, and, well, bathrooms.  Curbed LA reported the approval of an 18-month planning study for the Fashion District of LA that promises to provide quality of life services for potential residents of the neighborhood.  Among the elements high on their list (based on public feedback): places for dogs, more trees, some park space, and better lighting.  In other words, components of secure, liveable neighborhoods everywhere.  The project is being spearheaded by the Community Redevelopment Agency of LA (CRA/LA) with architecture and engineering giant AECOM acting as the lead consultant: 
The Fashion District, home to so many trends, has long gone untrendy itself. The Community Redevelopment Agency is hoping to help, reports California Apparel News, and has given AECOM a $1 million contract to conduct an 18 month study on improving the area. The CRA wants to connect the FaDi to the "Staples Center entertainment district and lure more people from the upper-crust Financial District near Bunker Hill." In focus groups this fall, residents said they'd like to see more public bathrooms near Santee Alley, restaurants open later, and more places for dogs. Business owners said they want public art, more security, more trees, and better lighting. They also want to keep businesses open later, limit food vendors, reduce jaywalking tickets, and rezone some currently industrially-zoned areas. And they're asking for some public transportation other than buses (the Regional Connector would come close, but not actually land in the District; the streetcar would graze it).
The CRA's project director for the FaDi tells the Apparel News there are several city-owned pieces of land that would make good Bryant Park-type parks, where "We could have fashion shows and do night markets." The agency would also like to turn Los Angeles Street into "a boutique street with some really interesting restaurants and street life," and to renew the Huntington Hotel at Eighth and Main.
The CRA will hold public workshops on the project in January.
· City Developing Big Plans for Fashion [California Apparel News]
· Fashion Your District [Official Site]
The project should provide an interesting foundation for extending the potential residential component and appeal of downtown, and certainly underscores AECOM's continuing and prominent role in envisioning LA's urban future (AECOM is the prime consultant on freeway cap park studies near downtown and Santa Monica, among other projects).  A timeline for the project is presented below and more on the project, including how to get involved, can also be found at the project website: Fashion Your District
Project timeline diagram.  Image from FashionYourDistrict.  All Rights Reserved.

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