Is the Metro Finally Coming to the Arts District?
August 14, 2018
Plans are moving forward for a metro line in the Arts District, but we are still years away from seeing the vision become a reality.
The metro is finally coming to the Arts District. The popular Downtown Los Angeles submarket has seen its fair share of new development and adaptive reuse in recent years, but it hasn’t quite popped like other DTLA submarkets. That is largely because the Arts District doesn’t have public transit access, like other parts of DTLA, but that is all changing. The city is considering a new route—the Alameda Corridor—to run through the market, and it will be a game changer for the Arts District.
“It means a great deal,” Rob McRitchie, an SVP at JLL, tells GlobeSt.com. “Currently the only way to access the Arts District is by using the DASH system or to drive. So to many, the area feels isolated from other neighborhoods throughout Downtown Los Angeles. Providing a link from both north and south will offer the connectivity needed in order to grow its burgeoning residential and commercial hotspots.”
The new route will run along Alameda, connecting not only the Arts District to Downtown Los Angeles, but also acting as a connector for other parts of the city. “The already approved route in downtown will run along Alameda with stops located at 7th street and near 1st street, which will provide access to the regional connector and the rest of the rail system,” says McRitchie. “Equally important, it will connect Downtown Los Angeles to Southeast Los Angeles County which will be a major benefit to those underserved communities and their access to major job centers.”
While this is thrilling news, we are still years from seeing the project come to fruition. “Thanks to Measure M and the city’s goal to accelerate completion on many of its transportation developments, the project has been approved and is slated to break ground in 2022,” says McRitchie. “It will be completed just in time for the Olympics. Support has been strong across the board as neighborhoods east of the Historic Core are eager to get connected via transit to the rest of the city. The biggest challenge had been alignment positioning north of the 10 freeway, but the Alameda alignment prevailed and now an additional option to have a spur deviate from 7th/Alameda to the financial district is being considered.”
When the EXPO line extension was underway, development and investment on and near the line increased significantly, but it is too early to see any similar reaction to his announcement, other than excitement. “It’s still in the planning phase, so I wouldn’t say there has been an direct increase in investor or capital interest as a result,” says McRitchie. “It has certainly added an additional layer of enthusiasm for investors to consider when deciding whether or not to inject capital into the neighborhood.”
The metro extension will do a lot to fuel more growth in the Arts district, but it may not be enough. The city also needs to update zoning challenges that have limited new construction, according to McRitchie. “Outdated zoning restrictions continue to be the main obstacle for new development, which will change once the Downtown Los Angeles Community Plan Update takes effect,” he says. “So combining smart 21st century zoning with rail connectivity to greater Los Angeles should attract substantial investment. What you will see is that Arts District boundaries will no longer be defined by Alameda to the west. Currently the street acts as a barrier to the outside world, but major projects west of Alameda will sprout along the path of the train, and with large pedestrian friendly sidewalks and great landscaping design, the center of gravity will soon turn Alameda into a Grand Boulevard in the New Arts District.”