Advisory Panel – Cleantech Corridor, Los Angeles CA

2010CleanTechCover

Date: May 17 – 21, 2010

Location: Los Angeles, CA

Sponsor: Community Redevelopment Authority of the City of Los Angeles, the Los Angeles Department of Power and Water, and the Central City East Association

Chair: John M. Walsh III

Subject Area: Economic Development, Industrial Development, Corridor Planning

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Assignment

A typical industrial block in the Cleantech Corridor area contains early 20th-century industrial space and streets full of truck traffic.

CRA/LA and LADWP, with support from the Central City East Association, cosponsored the panel to examine development opportunities, market potential, and development strategies consistent with the goals of CTLA. Specifically, the sponsors asked the panel to address the following four questions:

  1. What actions should the city of Los Angeles undertake to both promote sustainability for existing manufacturing uses and proactively attract new and advanced technology-based industry into the Cleantech Corridor while growing the district as a high-quality manufacturing center for the 21st century?
  2. What land use and related measures will facilitate an evolution of the manufacturing character in the Cleantech Corridor from its historic orientation geared to traditional practices to a center of innovation and sustainability?
  3. What policies, programs, strategies, and partnerships can foster and maintain a diverse and advanced technology manufacturing and employment base, with growth opportunity for a wide spectrum of occupational and professional skill sets, through the cooperative and collaborative partnership that is CTLA?
  4. What are appropriate goals and objectives to unify the partners of CTLA toward the implementation of a common vision that itself requires definition?

Summary of Recommendations

  • Focus on a delicate balance between smaller flex spaces and heavier industrial space, between smaller firms and large, and between commercial and residential users. The market analysis reveals great potential demand for flex space that the fine-grain buildings and blocks would suit. As the grain shifts south, the potential for larger facilities emerges. The area has many small businesses, which is a tremendous asset, and a variety of mixed-use spaces varying in size that are able to take advantage of the opportunity for adaptive use.

    A sketch captures the new node of the Arts and Innovation District as it connects to transit and the surrounding area.

  • Understand the demographic range for target customers, operators, and residents. The area has a relatively small residential population, but according to an analysis of the types of uses the corridor can support, a range of users exists who will want to live, work, and run businesses in the area. Again, mixed use is critical.
  • Concentrate on a smaller area where cleantech activity can best be catalyzed because the corridor as designated is too large and disjointed. The first push should occur in the area near the Southern California Institute of Architecture (SCIArc) currently designated as the Arts District and should flow south toward the 20-acre Cleantech Manufacturing Center. This area has a mix of users, buildings, and activity, and it has a potential link to mass transit—all ingredients ripe for a catalytic transformation. This smaller portion of the corridor should be rebranded as the Arts and Innovation District, consistent with supporting and expanding existing arts-related uses and encouraging the development of a clean and sustainable 21st-century industrial business sector. Investment by LADWP and CRA/LA in the planned Clean Technology Development Center and Business Incubator is a valuable and strategic step toward catalytic action for this area.
  • Start now, with essential yet relatively easy changes, to gain momentum: update the zoning, and address cosmetic improvements. The vision for the Cleantech Corridor is ambitious and will take time, but some simple tactics can jump-start the transformation and require minimal financial investment. Although the city should work to preserve some of the industrial base in the area, it should be open to a delicate balance of residential and commercial uses, so the zoning should be revised to facilitate mixed use in the area. Similarly, the area suffers from a deficient streetscape; the city should make all the simple changes, such as fixing potholes, as soon as possible.
  • Extend the Red Line to SCI-Arc to create multimodal accessibility. The Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority currently has a service yard adjacent to SCI-Arc and an active line connected to Union Station, so this move would be a relatively cost-effective and high-potential game changer in terms of access and perception. Currently under review, this near-term goal appears to have potential feasibility. Furthermore, a continued extension of the Red Line to Seventh Street should be evaluated for its feasibility and its capacity to reinforce the multiuse character of the Arts District as well as the district’s accessibility and position within the Cleantech Corridor.
  • Embrace and complement the Los Angeles River Revitalization Master Plan. The river can serve as a phenomenal amenity for residents and workers, and it can effectively link the industrial area on the west bank with Boyle Heights to the east.

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