Urban Land Institute Advisory Services Panel to Offer Recommendations, Options for Union Station, Los Angeles

Draft Report and Recommendations To Be Presented on Friday in Little Tokyo

For more information, contact: Robert Krueger at 202-624-7051; rkrueger@uli.org

LOS ANGELES (December 5, 2011) – Today an advisory services panel from the Urban Land Institute (ULI) arrives in Los Angeles to examine Union Station to provide recommendations and alternatives for the site’s future use. The Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority (Metro) and the City of Los Angeles Department of City Planning are both sponsoring the panel.

The panel was formed in order to provide Metro with strategic advice about how the City of Los Angeles can create better linkages between Union Station and the greater downtown areas. Since Metro’s recent purchase of Union Station, located adjacent to downtown, the agency has been evaluating how possible land use and planning policies should be adopted in order help with site’s master planning project. Specifically, the panel will study the area surrounding Union Station and evaluate what linkages can be implemented in order to fully develop the area’s distinct identity and how infrastructure improvements will influence the market potential of the surrounding area.

Additionally, panelists are tasked with answering how the City can better connect the area north of the 101 freeway to the Civic Center and Central City along with ways that Union Station can strengthen and compliment activities in Chinatown, Olvera Street, Little Tokyo, and along the Los Angeles River. After carefully analyzing the area and interviewing up to 100 individuals, the panel will then spend two days framing their recommendations and drafting a report that will be presented to the public at 8:30 a.m. on Friday, December 9, 2011 at the Tateuchi Democracy Forum in Little Tokyo.

Union Station, originally known as the Los Angeles Passenger Terminal, first opened in 1939. It was constructed in order to consolidate two local railroad terminals serving the Southern Pacific, Union Pacific and Atchison, Topeka, and Santa Fe railways. In 1980, the station was placed on the National Register of Historic Places. This national landmark was restored in 1992 and purchased by Metro this past February.

Currently, Union Station serves as the region’s main transit hub, connecting five Southern California counties via multiple rail and commuter lines. The station, which services Amtrak, Metro Rail, and Metrolink, has over 100,000 commuters access the site each day. The station site is located in the northeastern portion of downtown, within a short distance of Chinatown and Civic Center. The station encompasses over 40- acres and is entitled for a remaining 5.9 million square feet of office, retail, entertainment, and residential development.

The City’s masterplanning process for Union Station, expected to begin in mid-2012, is seen as a critical component of not only catalyzing transit oriented development, but also for long-term goals of the site becoming the major transit hub for Southern California. If California’s planned high-speed rail system comes to fruition, it will stop at Union Station and the success of the master plan will depend on determining how to best use soon-to-be adjacent vacant properties. In 2010, the City of Los Angeles and Community Redevelopment Agency – Los Angeles (CRA/LA) sponsored a ULI advisory services panel that examined the redevelopment options of the Cleantech Corridor.

Through the advisory services program, ULI assembles experts in the fields of real estate and land use planning to participate on panels worldwide, offering recommendations for complex planning and development projects, programs and policies. According to Tom Eitler, vice president of advisory services, the strength of the program lies in ULI’s unique ability to draw on the knowledge and experience of its nearly 30,000 members, including land developers, public officials, academics, lenders, architects, planners and urban designers.

This analysis from a wide variety of land use experts, coupled with substantial input from representatives of the communities, produces excellent results “time after time,” Eitler says. “The panel process helps build consensus to support an effort that benefits the entire community. It’s often the fresh, outside view provided by the panel that achieves these results. We seek possibilities and opportunities that might have been overlooked. The advisory services panel program is all about seeing things a different way.”

ULI teams approach the project from all perspectives, including market potential, land use and design, financing and development strategies, and organizing for implementation. Each team proposes practical solutions that serve as a blueprint to move the project forward. Panelists have developed strategies for a broad range of land uses, including downtown revitalization; retail/entertainment development, inner-city neighborhood revival, affordable housing, brownfields development, public facility sites such as stadiums, arenas and convention centers, transit-oriented development, resort and master-planned communities, and military base reuse.

Past sponsors of ULI advisory services panels include: federal, state and local government agencies; regional councils of government; chambers of commerce; redevelopment authorities; private developers and property owners; community development corporations; lenders; historic preservation groups; non-profit community groups; environmental organizations; and economic development agencies. Over the years, the program has been a leader in offering redevelopment advice for challenges across the country.

About the Urban Land Institute
The Urban Land Institute (uli.org) is a global nonprofit education and research institute supported by its members. Its mission is to provide leadership in the responsible use of land and in sustaining and creating thriving communities worldwide. Established in 1936, the Institute has nearly 30,000 members representing all aspects of land use and development disciplines.