We're halfway through the Bringing Back Broadway initiative, a 10-year plan to revitalize downtown's Broadway between Second Street and Olympic. How's it doing? The Downtown News checked in with City Councilmember Jose Huizar for some answers. Is BBB having some success where other attempts have failed? What's still got Broadway boosters stymied?
Restaurants and retail: While most of the action is concentrated south of Sixth Street, there's still a fair bit of action: Figaro, Los Angeles Brewing Company, Two Boots Pizza, Alma, Ross Dress for Less, and the Ace Hotel have all opened or soon will (also worth noting that the Clifton's makeover will one day be finished, and there's that rumored Urban Outfitters, too). However, street-front vacancy rates run in the 15 to 20 percent range, which ain't great.
The intangibles: Said Huizar on a recent stroll down Broadway: "It looks different and it feels different. It's just a nicer place to be, but it's still in transition."
NOT DONE YET
Streetcar: It's happening! Well, not quite yet, but it took a major step forward when Downtown residents approved a tax increase last year to help fund it. If all goes according to plan, it'll be open in 2016.
Theaters: Last year, the family that owns the Palace, State, Los Angeles, and Tower THEATRES announced a plan to convert them into venues for concerts and other events while also bringing in new bars and restaurants. A welcome and ambitious plan, but there's no timeline for it.
Road diet: The City Council is expected to vote this month on a plan to decrease traffic lanes on Broadway and widen the sidewalks.
Arts Center: A Broadway Arts Center--potentially including a Downtown campus for the California Institute of the Arts--is in the works. There's no site yet, but a $470,000 grant is funding pre-development work.
Signage: A Broadway Sign District will encourage neon signs, and $800,000 is available to property owners this year to improve facade lighting and signage.
Sidewalks: A 2008 initiative was supposed to undertake major sidewalk repairs, but so far only about 20 percent has been done and no funding has been identified to finish the project.
Upper floors: An ordinance to ease the way to developing the upper floors of buildings into office and retail space is languishing due to Fire Department concerns about emergency exit access. Huizar hopes something will pass this year, but there's no guarantee. [Image via Bringing Back Broadway]
· A Halfway Point for Bringing Back Broadway [Downtown News]
· Like Everything Else, Bringing Back Broadway Waiting on Funding [Curbed LA]