The Central City West Transportation and Land Use Specific Plan covers a densely populated 315-acre district opposite downtown Los Angeles, west of the Harbor Freeway. This district, once a prosperous community with many fine houses and commercial buildings, had by the late 1980's sunk into the kind of decay typical in many inner city communities in the U.S. The area was inhabited mainly by poor people.
M&AA, working with the Los Angeles Departments of Planning and Transportation, plus a consortium of local major property owners, and the offices of the area city councilmembers, evolved a specific plan that is a detailed guide to the development of 10,200 new dwelling units and 25 million square feet of commercial space. The plan includes guidelines for urban design, historic preservation and affordable housing in the district, and relates the pace of commercial development to the provision of residences and the implementation of a transportation infrastructure. On a more subtle level, it lays the groundwork for the creation of a “sense of place”, a distinctive physical and community identity.
Achieving a balance between so many conflicting interests, particularly the tension between commercial developers and a community struggling to improve its basic quality of life, took a lot of patient listening. Concerns noted at often rowdy community hearings were addressed in the plan’s proposals. The process gained the confidence of almost everyone involved, a unique position in such a charged social context.
To accomplish this task, M&AA worked with a team of 12 consultants with expertise ranging from local community issues to financial analysis of public-private implementation strategies.