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L.A. Hopes to Draw Art Center

COMMERCIAL REAL ESTATE

Possible move to Terminal Annex, prompted by school's space needs, could prove a major boost for downtown as it seeks to reinvent itself.

September 21, 1999|JESUS SANCHEZ | TIMES STAFF WRITER

Longtime downtown denizen Atlantic Richfield Co., for example, recently agreed to merge with BP-Amoco, raising questions about what Arco will do with its 200,000 square feet of downtown office space.

The new batch of cultural and entertainment amenities will play a vital role in making downtown more attractive to businesses and building a larger residential community, according to urban planners.

"There is [now] a tremendous amount of vacancies. There is a tremendous deficit in pedestrian life," said architect Stefanos Polyzoides, whose firm crafted a downtown plan that promoted housing and a variety of activities. "Any significant mix of uses within the greater downtown is an extraordinarily good idea."

But previous efforts to build up downtown cultural attractions have met with limited results. The Los Angeles Music Center on Bunker Hill and the Los Angeles Theatre Center on Spring Street, for example, failed to spark additional development.

Group Tries to Foster Business, Cooperation

This time around, however, the larger number of cultural attractions and the growing number of downtown residents should have a more powerful impact on downtown's ambience, according to Carol Schatz, president of the Central City Assn. Instead of simply promoting business, the association has organized meetings of downtown cultural institutions to foster cooperation. The group has also begun advertising the entertainment and cultural aspects of the area.

"It's in recognition that . . . we are not going to see the traditional Fortune 500 firm coming" downtown, Schatz said. "It's part of the evolution of all downtowns, and we are not unusual in that way."

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