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Community News: Mid-City

WESTLAKE : Plan Puts Emphasis on Housing, Retail

August 07, 1994|LESLIE BERESTEIN

Better housing, increased retail opportunities and added recreational space are among the goals of a preliminary plan the Community Redevelopment Agency approved last week.

The plan was submitted to the agency two months ago by the Westlake Community Advisory Committee, appointed in November by 1st District City Councilman Mike Hernandez to help develop revitalization strategies for what is considered one of the city's poorest and most overcrowded zones.

"Westlake has been termed the most densely populated neighborhood west of Manhattan Island," said Tom Coyle, a local property owner who is co-chairman of the advisory committee. "We've got a lot of catching up to do."

Although the plan is likely to undergo several revisions as it passes from the redevelopment agency to the City Planning Department and on to the City Council for a final vote, Coyle said the committee has tried to address many of the community's problems.

Priorities include upgrading the area's aging and often under-maintained housing stock, as well as attracting more retail outlets to stimulate commerce, developing green space and recreational programs for youths, and improving the accessibility of public transit for area residents, most of whom do not own cars, Coyle said.

Attracting pedestrian-friendly commerce, Coyle said, plays perhaps the most important role in revitalizing the area.

"It's a large population, densely packed, with limited retail resources. The retail opportunity just isn't there, compared with slightly better-off suburban neighborhoods," he said. "At this time, I only know of one household electronics store in the area; five others were burned out in the (1992) riots."

According to Maxine Chavez, the redevelopment agency's project manager for Westlake and Pico-Union, the City Council recently approved $214,000 in riot-recovery funds to go toward the services of an environmental consultant, who will work with the agency, city officials and the redevelopment agency to prepare an environmental impact report for the proposed redevelopment zone.

Chavez said the redevelopment plan should be submitted to the City Council for approval no later than May, coinciding with the projected completion date of the environmental impact report.

The area being considered for redevelopment is bounded roughly by 3rd Street and Beverly Boulevard on the north, Olympic Boulevard on the south, Bixel Street, Columbia Avenue and Garland Avenue on the east, and Hoover Street on the south.

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