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Broadway Arts Center to Keep Artists Living/Working in DTLA

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Now that Downtown's gentrifying away, can the neighborhood keep the SoHo Effect in check? The LA Department of Cultural Affairs is working with a whole bunch of city and non-profit groups, plus CalArts and the AIA/LA, to create the Broadway Arts Center, "a mixed-use affordable artists’ housing, performance/exhibition space, educational facility, and creative commercial center" that might not necessarily be built in the Broadway Theater District. The hope is that it'll help keep Downtown artists from getting priced out and bring new artists to the area. In August, the project released a preliminary feasibility study (pdf) based on focus groups (with "arts organizations, individual artists, financing and funding professionals, community and educational organizations, business sector representatives, city staff and representatives of elected officials"), site tours, and a public meeting.

The artists interviewed for the study mostly want live/work spaces, with areas for rehearsals, performances, exhibitions, and classes, plus some kind of green space. Arts organizations want to see a medium-sized performance space (about 350 seats) and are hoping for revitalization of some of the big old Broadway theaters. A lot of people had concerns about safety and noise Downtown.

Originally the DCA was looking at a site on Broadway between Sixth and Seventh, by the Los Angeles Theater. The plan was "to raze existing, non-historic buildings for a new construction project to serve BAC, and in the process open up back-of-house truck access and create parking for the existing theatre." Since it could be tough to build on that site (and tougher to build big), the study also looked at several other nearby sites. It considered:

--A parking lot on the northwest corner of Main and Sixth Streets
--The Cecil Hotel at 640 S. Main St.
--The Medallion project's Phase 2, on the 300 block of S. Main St.
--The Herman W. Hellman Building at 354 S. Spring St.
--The Broadway Spring Center's Phase 2 at Spring and Fourth
--The Title Insurance and Trust Co. Building on Spring
--The Pershing Square Metro portal site at the southeast corner of Fifth and Hill

The study group also checked out sites in South Park and Central City East, but thought they were too far from the action. The Fashion District is still under consideration, but there's no specific site in mind. And the study says that "while many [of the artists] were open to a Broadway location, the Arts District Business Improvement District (BID) came up repeatedly as an area of interest." Plus there's the possibility for a larger campus covering several sites.

The BAC backers are now conducting surveys to figure out interest in the project and how much and what they'll want to build. They'll put out a final report in spring 2012.
· CreativeSpaceLA [Official Site]
· Broadway Arts Center [Facebook]