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5 Predictions For Downtown (and a Plea For a Parking Plan)

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We've spent a lot of time casting an eye back on the year that was, so how's about a little prognosticating about the future of Downtown, courtesy of an LA Times interview with property broker Derrick Moore? Moore specializes in retail properties, and has been working Downtown since 2000, when the area's shopping was best known for "discount jewelry, discount fashion, discount flowers, discount toys." Downtown's transformation is far from finished (always more Starbucks to come!), but "the process is well underway and accelerating," he says. What can we expect in the years ahead?

Hotels are hot: "Occupancy at downtown hotels is quite high. Occupancy at the JW Marriott is what led Korean Air to go forward with their $1-billion project [at the site of the old Wilshire Grand]." An Ace Hotel is on its way, as is an Empire Hotel at the old Trinity Auditorium, and he says a number of other boutiques might be, too.

The uncertainty around Farmers Field and developer AEG's sale won't hurt growth: "Some investment was put on hold with the announcement of the potential sale of AEG, but I think a lot of institutional money is betting on the stadium. If you look at the sales prices of property closing or under contract, it suggests we are going to see an explosion of development in that corridor based around hospitality."

The next generation of retail choices are right around the corner: "Just in the vicinity of Bottega Louie restaurant at 7th and Grand we will see about 1,350 new market rate units that will be completed in about 30 months. That alone will bring in another 2,500 residents. New retail on ground floors will activate the area." Though the groundfloor retail he names--Target and Ross Dress for Less--aren't exactly a huge break from the "discount market" past.

And more retail!: "The area should not be branded solely as a restaurant or bar place. We need additional retail that serves the residential as well as daytime population."

Behold the power of the streetcar: "[The Downtown trolley] is going to be a tremendous boon. I can park my car, jump on that trolley and go. It will take the intimidation factor out of going downtown, make it very easy to get around in a continuous loop."

But parking is still a problem: "We need to organize a parking plan, like a universal valet service or maybe getting building owners to open up some of their parking [at night]."
· Downtown L.A.'s real estate transformation is building speed [LAT]
· A Monorail on the Sunset Strip and Other Visions of LA's Future [Curbed LA]