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Pacoima Looking For a Walkable Culver-City-Style Renaissance

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Pacoima's on its way to getting greener, but another kind of green continues to elude the neighborhood: money. So, says the LA Times, a plan's been formed by some local small business owners and boosters to create—from scratch—a walkable "Main Street" area along Van Nuys Boulevard which, they say, would attract retailers and change the way people think about Pacoima: "The plan is to replicate the economic renaissance brought to communities such as Culver City by new shopping and dining districts."

With not even 500 businesses, Pacoima's "under-retailed" in comparison to surrounding areas. (Three big-box-type stores there have all arrived "in the last few years.") And though the area's centrally located where arterial streets and two freeways meet, big chains haven't been too keen on setting up shop in an area with such low incomes; nearly 40 percent of residents are below the poverty line. ("A Black Angus, even a Denny's … that would be so nice," bemoans a former Pacoima Chamber of Commerce president.)

Without a Target or a Starbucks, the hoped-for economic rebirth will be kickstarted by a "small business accelerator" run by the nonprofit Valley Economic Development Center, which will offer consulting to would-be business owners. There' also an 18,000-square-foot open-air shopping center in the works that will have a Verizon store, a healthcare center, and restaurants. Though it's on the small side, the retail center is an enormous upgrade from the blighted, rundown building that used to sit on the site. In the possible future are bike-friendly upgrades and maybe even some mariachis walking the boulevard, like they do on Olvera Street.

Even though the anticipated businesses aren't open yet, a "business watch" team of cops has already begun to patrol the area, and crime's dropped 15 percent since they've been there. Those spearheading the Main Street idea see walkability as the key to bringing in new retailers, so having people feel safe is going to be key.
· Main Street economic renaissance planned for Pacoima [LAT]
· Here Are the Very Green Plans For the Pacoima Wash Rehab [Curbed LA]