The study is due to be completed next year. Vowed Wernick: "You're going to come here a year from this date and you're going to see a much different downtown."
A few trial balloons already are floating about, Hansen said.
Some officials believe they might be able to capture a bigger piece of the Hollywood pie. The downtown storefronts are ideal for movie sets, Hansen said, noting that the high school--with its brick exterior, evocative of a Midwestern campus--already is a Hollywood discovery.
Also under consideration is a plan that would close a block or two of Main Street to cars and turn it into a funky outside mall, in the manner of the Third Street Promenade in Santa Monica.
It has not gone unnoticed in El Segundo that Hermosa Beach, just a few miles to the south, made a pedestrian walkway out of a downtown block by the municipal pier. In Hermosa, trendy bars and restaurants now line both sides of what used to be the street.
On Main Street in El Segundo, meanwhile, the leaves keep falling. And out on Sepulveda Boulevard, the jackhammers keep roaring.
In the lot next to the Ralphs, a hotel is under construction. To the south, the Chevron station is supposed to reopen by Christmas, with a McDonald's attached. It's the first McDonald's in town--complete with a drive-through window.
"In El Segundo," said Tony Barthel, a reporter for the weekly El Segundo Herald, "Ralphs is big news. But McDonald's, that's like an oh-my-god kind of thing."
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Big Changes in a Small Town
Business is booming along Sepulveda Boulevard and on Rosecrans Avenue in El Sequndo. But some say success in this city of 16,000 has been at the expense of the distinctive downtown.