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Fairfax District Is Rediscovered

Development: Investing in older neighborhoods has become a trend, as new construction sweeps the area.

April 03, 2001|MORRIS NEWMAN | SPECIAL TO THE TIMES

The new mall's effect on traffic was downplayed by Michael McManus, Caruso's vice president of construction. He said the firm's own study shows that measures taken by the developer will offset the increase in traffic.

Those measures include reopening long-closed Stanley Street between Beverly Boulevard and 3rd, installing five new traffic signals in the mall area and doing a $500,000 upgrade on nine traffic signals that will make them more responsive to traffic conditions.

For the Record
Los Angeles Times Thursday April 5, 2001 Home Edition Business Part C Page 2 Financial Desk 1 inches; 35 words Type of Material: Correction
Fairfax district--A story in Tuesday's Business section on Los Angeles' Fairfax district may have implied that Mordigan's Nursery was forced to close to make way for new construction. Mordigan's has moved to 7933 W. 3rd St., west of Fairfax Avenue.

Other residents, including Futterman, worry about the effect of the projects on the quality of architecture and public space. He said he is disappointed that the three new apartment buildings, which are being built by Casden Properties Inc. at the northern and southern edges of Park La Brea, will not harmonize with the master plan of the multi-block apartment complex.

"No matter where you live [in Park La Brea], you have access to a courtyard," Futterman said. "That creates a psychological perception that the whole [complex] is unified and you are really part of a community."

The new apartments "turn their backs on Park La Brea," Futterman said, and they "will be perceived as strangers in the neighborhood."

Casden intentionally set the new units apart from those of Park La Brea, company Vice President Robert J. Hildebrand said. "It's a higher-quality product--there is a difference in taste and in price."

Futterman also said he was concerned that the Grove will change the neighborhood character of Farmers Market. Although the market is a popular tourist destination, the nearby parking gave it a neighborhood feeling.

With the development, shoppers will park in a seven-story garage at 3rd and Stanley and take a 470-yard ride aboard a fixed-rail tram to the old market. The tram cars are modeled loosely after the historic Red Car, one of L.A.'s vanished streetcar lines.

Even some people who are worried about traffic sound upbeat about improved shopping. Plotkin said the homeowners group gained a number of concessions from the developer, including new traffic signals and the right to review landscaping plans along 3rd. She also applauded the new garage, which should help provide parking for small merchants on 3rd.

And if new development has erased some well-loved neighborhood spots, it may remove some blight, as well.

"Nobody would be sad to see the parking lots on 3rd Street go away," said planning official Howe, who described the lots as "treeless seas of asphalt."

The residential development on the south side of 3rd also pleased Howe, who said the Casden buildings will give the area a neighborhood appearance.

And despite the fears of some Fairfax area homeowners, development should be beneficial, Howe said. The new construction "stabilizes a very large area and will absolutely add to property values in the area, whether single-family homes or commercial office buildings on Wilshire.

"The goal is to see that changes are evolutionary, not drastic, and that those changes are in a positive direction, if they are done right."

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Other Hot Spots

Examples of reinvestment in older urban areas:

* South-Central Los Angeles: Chesterfield Square, a 22-acre shopping center at Western

and Slauson

* Mid-City: Proposed combined Costco and Home Depot near Pico and San Vicente

* Pasadena: 2,000 homes on former Ambassador College site

* Van Nuys: A multiplex and power center on former General Motors plant site

* Burbank: Retail and office development on former Lockheed Martin site

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