What downtown needs

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Good piece by Joel Kotkin in the LAT Sunday Opinion section on downtown revival and how Disney Hall is not it.

But there's another reason to be skeptical about the latest "solution" — remember pedestrian malls, convention centers and sports arenas? — to what's considered an ailing central city. Downtown is anything but dead. It already boasts a number of vibrant, job-producing districts — garment, flower, toy and jewelry, to name some. These industrial and retail hubs, where more than 6,000 businesses employ about 50,000 trade and manufacturing workers, have been revitalizing formerly destitute parts of the central core while all eyes were watching Frank Gehry's idea for Disney Hall bloom.

(snipped)

Los Angeles' downtown already has multiple reasons to exist. What's needed are policies that would stimulate its existing dynamism. For example, public funds should be spent on improving street lighting, historic restoration, policing and vagrant control. Rather than create a Grand Avenue culture corridor, says the Los Angeles Conservancy's Ken Bernstein, the city should make zoning changes and minor improvements to transform Broadway, with its stunning collection of vintage theaters, into a major entertainment destination again.

Speaking of downtown, the San Francisco Chronicle "Living" section today does the nightlife with Marc Brown of BuzzNet.com, loosely pegged to Disney Hall and the Standard Hotel (added 1:45 p.m.):

For years, nightlife in downtown Los Angeles was all about scoring ammonia-laced crack from delirious dealers, breaking into empty office buildings to throw up and dodging stray shopping carts sent barreling down the empty streets by bitter homeless people. The neighborhood provided just the right makings for an awesome evening out. Then plans for the construction of the Frank Gehry-designed Walt Disney Concert Hall for the Los Angeles Philharmonic, which finally opened last week, were announced.

The abandoned complexes were converted into outrageously expensive live- work spaces. Unabashedly tacky Latin fusion restaurants popped up on every block. Even the meter maids stopped nodding off long enough to actually issue tickets during their late shifts.


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