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Is Washington Boulevard the Next Gentry Frontier?

[Image credit: L.A. Times]

That’s what L.A. planners are hoping. The Community Redevelopment Agency sees 22 blocks around Washington Boulevard just south of downtown as the next great place in L.A. gentrification, but the area is not yet a redevelopment area. Because of the area’s proximity to the Blue Line, planners believe that more than wig shops, warehouses, parking lots, and traffic court could be part of the neighborhood.

They are hoping to attract at least one big-box retailer and create what the CRA described as "a pedestrian-friendly, mixed-use district that builds on the existing light-rail stations along Washington Boulevard." Such a development could be used not just by nearby residents and commuters but by USC students as well, backers say.

People in the area are slightly less optimistic:"I've been here seven years, and it never gets better," said Francisco Ozaeta, who runs the L.A. Greens Nutrition Center out of a storefront on Broadway, just north of Washington, in the proposed redevelopment zone. Ozaeta said that as factories and other businesses in the area have closed or been converted to other uses, fewer people come into his store. To make matters worse, he said, the city has eliminated meter parking in the area and painted the curb in front of his store red.

So those who do enter, he said, often have only pennies to spend in a few seconds before their bus or train arrives.

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