Will Century City ever be anything besides a car-centric, high-rise office campus? As the half-century-old neighborhood, carved out of the old Fox movie lot, prepares for more mid- and high-rise development, anyone sane is hoping Century City can evolve with the more pedestrian-friendly times. But it will take an enormous force of will to tackle CC's hostility toward anything without a motor, as it was built in the car-crazy Twentieth Century, with streets so wide it feels like crossing the Ganges River. The traffic in nearby residential neighborhoods often backs up because of the lack of freeway access, and rail service (via the Purple Line) is still more than a decade away. New, more human-scale development is not really on the horizon, either—almost every parcel in CC is already built out, under-construction, or earmarked for development. Here's a look at the few projects on the way:
· The under-construction 10000 Santa Monica Boulevard, a luxury apartment tower that will drop 283 units in the neighborhood, sits on CC's eastern end. It's always good to have a balance of residents and jobs, the latter of which is in no short supply in the neighborhood (the Census indicates the neighborhood is only home to about 2,400 people). But the 40-story tower is being built without groundfloor retail, which will not create many new pedestrians in the area.
· A few blocks away, Australian mall developer Westfield just build a new parking garage (great), and scaled down a planned 39-story tower to a 15-story mall/luxury residential building on the site of the current Westfield Century City. The chop is partially duty to local NIMBYs demanding less density, a common refrain in the area.
· Residents are mostly ok with developer Century Associates upgrade of the Hyatt Regency Century Plaza, which will be accompanied by two new 46-story high-rises; people like that the plan preserves the distinctive, 48-year-old hotel. It also includes a 100,000-square-foot public plaza and two acres of open space, which could actually enliven the pedestrian experience in this section of the neighborhood.
· Then, there's the long-bandied about project at Constellation Avenue and Avenue of the Stars; what was once two 47-story residential towers will now be a 37-story mixed-use tower designed by Johnson Fain. The traffic-averse are coming out swinging, but developer JMB Realty is touting $4-million in traffic studies and transportation improvements, including a free shuttle from the Expo Line (ostensibly the Westwood station that opens in a year or two), which is about two miles away.
· The tower will also sit on top of the Purple Line's future Century City station, which should open in 2026. The tower could possibly include an extra portal for the station or riders might ascend straight into the building. (In fact, Beverly Hills NIMBYs had some nonsensical accusations that Metro was building the Century City station there because they were in cahoots with JMB).
The Purple Line will certainly take hundreds, if not thousands, of cars off Century City roads every day, but the city clearly needs to step in here and make some infrastructure changes in the interim. Number one would be to shrink the roads and widen the sidewalks. Number two could be allowing more food trucks, kiosks, and street-level amenities to the neighborhood, so it doesn't seem so imposing to walk from one end of the CC to the other—it's really not much bigger than a half-mile wide and a half-mile long.
· Do All Roads in Century City's Future Lead to More Traffic? [LAT]
· Ground Finally Breaks on 40-Story 10000 SMB in Century City [Curbed LA]
· New Century Plaza Hotel Plan Trying For Century City Walkability [Curbed LA]
· Century City Center Planning All Kinds of Purple Line Goodies [Curbed LA]