County Begins Phase One of Construction on Vermont Corridor Project in Koreatown

Los Angeles County leaders break ground on Phase One of the Vermont Corridor project on October 17, 2018. Photo by Karen Quincy Loberg / Board of Supervisors

The County broke ground on Phase One of a comprehensive effort to redevelop along the Vermont Corridor, as part of its commitment to provide a state-of-the-art home for County employees and clients and revitalize communities that are home to County facilities and services.

Rendering by Gensler of 468,000-sq. ft. office tower that will be developed by the Trammell Crow Company to serve as the Vermont Corridor Administration Building.

Officials from the Community Development Commission/Housing Authority of the County of Los Angeles (CDC/HACoLA) joined Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas, Los Angeles City Council President Herb Wesson, Los Angeles County Department of Mental Health (LACDMH), the Los Angeles County Workforce Development, Aging, and Community Services (WDACS), and other dignitaries to celebrate the commencing of construction for the multi-phased mixed-use Koreatown development.

This 21-story office building is one of three sites that will begin to transform Vermont Avenue, between 4th and 6th Street. Once completed, it will house LACDMH and WDACS.

This location will include walk-in mental health services, utilizing ground-floor clinic and office space. With access to the Metro Vermont/Wilshire Red Line Station, Los Angeles County residents will be able to access an array of mental-health services. LACDMH will also consolidate its administrative functions into this centralized building, and expand several of its operations.

Supervisor Ridley-Thomas speaks at the groundbreaking ceremony. Photo by Karen Quincy Loberg / Board of Supervisors

Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas shared, “The Vermont Corridor Project represents our commitment to revitalizing the communities that are home to County facilities and services. In addition to supporting a robust and thriving community, we are also supporting our own. Every year, LACDMH and WDACS help tens of thousands of residents. Through these state-of-the-art County facilities, LACDMH and WDACS employees will be able to deliver improved services – from prevention to recovery – and assist their clients in taking the first steps on a journey toward healing and self-sufficiency.”

The Vermont Corridor Project was a collaborative effort between the County, Trammell Crow, and community organizations, such as the Anderson Munger Family YMCA and NewStory Church, which took several years to come to fruition.

“There has been a lot of hard work and collaboration leading up to this groundbreaking,” Monique King-Viehland, CDC/HACoLA Executive Director shared. “The Vermont Corridor will soon be transformed into a place where many people can call home and can receive reliable, supportive services.”

Dr. Jon Sherin, Director of LACDMH, said, “I’m so proud of Los Angeles County for working together to reduce barriers and build a better future of mental health care. This new building will support a whole-person approach to recovery and wellbeing, with an open, friendly environment that’s healthier for the people we serve and a better workplace for the staff who inspire hope and work so hard to help people in great need.”

“This is a place where life transformation is bound to take place,” Pastor Tom Kang from NewStory Church shared. “We ask that this would be a place of hope, of positive life transformation to the community at large as well as to every employee and client who will be using this new building in the future.”

In addition to the new County Administrative Office Building, future phases of the Vermont Corridor Project will include a 72-unit housing development and supportive services reserved for seniors with limited means and formerly homeless seniors, as well as market-rate housing.

Bioscience Gets a Boost in LA County

Los Angeles County took a major step towards fostering a vibrant business ecosystem to help the local bioscience industry reach its full potential as a job-creating economic engine that advances breakthroughs in global health.

Photo by Diandra Jay/Board of Supervisors

At the 2018 Bioscience Summit hosted by Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas, L.A. County announced the creation of Bioscience Los Angeles County or BioLA, which will serve as an innovation catalyst and entrepreneurial hub for government, research institutions and private investors to accelerate startup activity and amplify economic opportunity throughout the region. The move sends a strong signal that the County is committed to becoming a global leader in bioscience.

Photo by David Franco/Board of Supervisors

“With an $8.7-billion budget dedicated to health services, L.A. County is uniquely invested in the success of the bioscience sector as it develops innovations to improve health and quality of life,” L.A. County Chief Executive Officer Sachi A. Hamai said.

“L.A. County has always generated vast and exceptional bioscience research, and we deserve an infrastructure that helps scientists, entrepreneurs and investors come together to create America’s next wave of great companies,” Supervisor Ridley-Thomas said. “BioLA will be our public-private partnership singularly dedicated to growing this innovation ecosystem.”

Photo by Diandra Jay/Board of Supervisors

During the Summit, held at Loyola Marymount University, more than 300 bioscience experts and entrepreneurs, government officials, healthcare executives, academic leaders and investors discussed strategies for boosting L.A. County’s bioscience industry, including nurturing startup companies, spurring capital investments and building a trained workforce.

Biomedical Growth Strategies President and CEO Susan R. Windham-Bannister. Photo by Diandra Jay/Board of Supervisors

“BioLA will play an essential role coalescing the bioscience community to drive the discovery and development of treatments and cures for patients,” said Biomedical Growth Strategies President and CEO Susan R. Windham-Bannister, one of the panelists at the summit. “A key to transforming Los Angeles into a leading innovation hub is an independent entity like BioLA, whose sole mission is to strengthen and sustain the life sciences ecosystem through collaboration, strategic investments and the acceleration of startup activity.”

“L.A. County needs to play to its strengths: visibility, variety and viability,” added Larta Institute CEO Rohit Shukla, who also served as panelist. “I am proud to help connect start-ups and emerging innovations to the variety of incubation and development opportunities that exist in the area –  our hospitals, research institutions and space-based facilities.”

Wild Earth CEO Ryan Bethencourt and Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas. Photo by Diandra Jay/Board of Supervisors

Grifols Biologicals LLC President Willie Zuniga, another panelist, noted his company is already working to create career pathways in bioscience. “Grifols partners with local colleges and universities to create sustainable employment pipelines of skilled individuals for key biomanufacturing and quality positions,” he said. “The best part is that many of these individuals are from our surrounding communities.

The local bioscience industry currently generates more than $40 billion in economic activity annually and supports 70,000 direct jobs and 160,000 indirect jobs, but has the potential to create even more, at all skill levels. Resilient against economic downturns, bioscience was the only industry sector that continued to grow during the Great Recession.

Creating BioLA is only the latest L.A. County initiative to boost the bioscience industry. The County is also:

  • Funding bioscience incubators at CalState LA and at LA Biomed on the Harbor-UCLA Medical Campus;
  • Developing a 15-acre biotech park on the Harbor-UCLA Medical Campus;
  • Setting aside $15 million to create a Bioscience Investment Fund for early-stage startups; and
  • Partnering with community colleges and industry leaders to implement life sciences apprenticeship programs.

Following the Summit, panel moderators and participants will recap discussions and formulate a “Bioscience Action Plan” for the region, focused on identifying achievable goals and setting milestones for measuring progress. For more information, visit http://economicdevelopment.lacounty.gov/bioscience/ or https://www.biolac.org/

Vermont Manchester Project Takes Shape

Moving one of South Los Angeles’ most innovative mixed-use projects a step closer to fruition, the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors unanimously voted to begin exclusive negotiations with the Bridge Housing Corporation as the developer selected to build a signature housing and retail project at the intersection of Vermont Avenue and Manchester Boulevard. The mixed-use project is designed to fulfill many of the needs of the community and surrounding neighborhoods. It is slated to include 180 affordable residential units – 55 units to serve as supportive housing and the other 125 units for households earning 40 to 60 percent of the area’s median income. Accommodations will range from studios to three-bedroom apartments.

In addition, the project is envisioned to have 62,000 square feet of commercial uses, with potential tenants including a grocer, a restaurant, general retail, and a job training center to be operated by the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority. The project also includes a plaza for the community and a five-story parking structure with about 400 parking spaces.

The County received proposals from six developers and, after a thorough review of each proposal, the evaluation committee recommended entering into an Exclusive Negotiating Agreement (ENA) with Bridge Housing. In addition to Bridge Housing, the developer team also includes the Coalition for Responsible Community Development (CRCD) and Primestor Development, Inc.

“Bridge Housing, and the team it has assembled, has the precise mix of experience with public-private partnerships, as well as experience building both affordable housing and commercial development. It also has the sophisticated financial acumen that we were seeking,” said Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas, who sponsored the ENA motion and who is spearheading the project. “I couldn’t be more pleased with the progress we’ve made.”

Bridge Housing has built more than 17,000 units of housing, with a total development cost of over $3 billion. The CRCD maintains a portfolio of $103 million of housing development projects in operations, pre-development and/or construction in the South Los Angeles area. Primestor, the commercial development arm of the team, has developed, managed, and acquired several million square feet of commercial/retail space throughout the United States, overseeing a portfolio in excess of $750 million. Bridge Housing would be responsible for all contract matters.

The four-acre site, which the County acquired by eminent domain last spring, has long been an eyesore in the community, many of whom are welcoming the advent of housing and retail. In the months before construction begins, the County plans to maintain a consistent level of engagement around the wishes of the community.

County engagement began with a kick-off event last July, when neighbors were invited to share their vision for the site while enjoying hotdogs and ice cream. Next up will be a family-friendly Fall Solstice event. Stay tuned for more information!

Improvements Underway at Metro’s
Willowbrook/Rosa Parks Station

The Metropolitan Transportation Authority kicked off major upgrades to the Blue Line’s Willowbrook/Rosa Parks Station. The $109-million project will radically transform the fourth-busiest station in the Metro Rail system by improving access, expanding capacity, adding community space, and better connecting the station to the surrounding neighborhood.

Metro Board Member and Los Angeles County Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas at the press conference to launch the Rosa Parks/Willowbrook Station improvement project. Photo by Diandra Jay/Board of Supervisors.

“The entire Metro system will benefit from the complete transformation of this highly utilized station,” said Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas, a member of the Metro Board of Directors. “These long overdue improvements will increase safety, accessibility and mobility for current and future riders, and further solidifies the Willowbrook/Rosa Parks Station as the linchpin of transit-oriented development for the Willowbrook community.”

Among other improvements, the station will have a new Customer Service Center, Transit Security Center, Bike Hub and self-cleaning, automated public restrooms for patrons. The open-air plaza has also been designed as a public resource to be used for community events, special exhibits, celebrations and movie nights. The improvement project is funded by a combination of local money and state and federal grants.

Early construction work will take place over the rest of 2018. In early January, the station will close for eight to nine months as part of the New Blue project to modernize the Blue Line, which opened in 1990 and is Metro’s oldest light rail line. During the closure, rail service to the station will be replaced by bus shuttles.

“The Willowbrook/Rosa Parks Station has been used by millions of people over the years and it’s time to prepare the station for many more decades of heavy use,” said Supervisor Sheila Kuehl, who chairs the Metro Board. “The community deserves a better station and I’m pleased to see this very important work finally getting underway.”

“The Willowbrook/Rosa Parks Station Improvement Project is a welcome addition to the Willowbrook community and a positive step toward a more equitable transportation system. Safe, reliable, and affordable public transportation helps families better connect to education and job opportunities. My constituents throughout the 44th Congressional District will benefit greatly,” said U.S. Congressmember Nanette Diaz Barragán.

Improvements to the station include:

• expansion of the Blue Line platform to reduce crowding, along with an overhead canopy to protect passengers from the sun and rain;

• the creation of a new pedestrian crossing and entrance on the south side of the extended Blue Line platform;

• upgrades to the elevators, escalators, stairs and the mezzanine between the Blue Line and Green Line platforms;

• consolidation and upgrades to the bus bays to provide a safer and more comfortable area for riders; and
• new site-specific artwork by artists Jamex, Einar de la Torre and George Evans.

The Willowbrook/Rosa Parks Station will remain open until January 2019, when it is expected to close until September 2019. Rail service closures during that time will be as follows:

• January to May 2019: Rail service will be suspended from the Willowbrook/Rosa Parks Station to the Downtown Long Beach Station and replaced by Metro bus shuttles. The Blue Line will continue running between 7th St/Metro Center and 103rd St/Watts Towers Station.

• May to September 2019: Rail service will be suspended from the Willowbrook/Rosa Parks to 7th St/Metro Center and replaced by bus shuttles. The Blue Line will continue running between Compton Station and Downtown Long Beach Station. Red and Purple Line service will operate normally at 7th St/Metro Center.

• During the northern closure, Expo Line rail service will be suspended for 45 days at 7th Street/Metro Center Station and Pico Station with train service in that segment replaced by bus shuttles. Expo Line trains will continue to run between LATTC/Ortho Institute Station and Downtown Santa Monica.

“The transformation of the Willowbrook/Rosa Parks Station into a modern transit hub is being made possible by our local, state and federal funding partners,” said Metro CEO Phillip A. Washington. “In addition to providing a better mobility experience for our customers, this crucial work will improve the quality of life for the Willowbrook community.”

For more information, including a fact sheet and renderings, visit https://www.metro.net/projects/blue-line-willowbrook/.

 

 

 

 

 

LA Phil Unveils New Design for YOLA Center in Inglewood

Youth Orchestra Los Angeles (YOLA) is getting a new home in Inglewood.

Reaffirming its commitment to the mission of music education and community service, the Los Angeles Philharmonic (LA Phil) unveiled legendary architect Frank Gehry’s design for the $14.5-million Judith and Thomas L. Beckmen YOLA Center @ Inglewood.

The 25,000-sq. ft. project within the civic center will be, in effect, a third venue for LA Phil, alongside Walt Disney Concert Hall and the Hollywood Bowl. The facility will host rehearsals, classes and performances, and also serve as the focal point of the LA Phil’s commitment to community engagement in the area.

Founded in 2007, YOLA has grown to become one of the most influential community-based music education after-school programs in the United States. Inspired by Venezuela’s revolutionary El Sistema program and led by LA Phil music and artistic director Gustavo Dudamel, YOLA currently serves more than 1,200 students in South L.A., the Rampart District, Westlake/MacArthur Park, and East L.A., providing free, high-quality music training and academic support.

“As a young child in Venezuela, I joined El Sistema and learned firsthand that music has the power to change people’s lives,” Dudamel said. “Now the LA Phil is doing just that through YOLA. We know that our engagement with young people in our classes in the Rampart District or East L.A. is every bit as important as our involvement with the audiences in Walt Disney Concert Hall. In fact, one side of what we do is incomplete without the other. That’s why it’s so important to build this permanent home for YOLA, and why I’m so grateful to Frank Gehry for understanding the LA Phil’s hopes and the dreams of our students.”

“It’s a privilege for me to work with Gustavo to create a place where students can feel comfortable, secure, and welcome as they learn to express themselves through music,” Gehry said. “We hope that the building will become a center for the community to gather to hear performances of all types. I designed the Center to be a world-class instrument for the community, and I can’t wait to see how they use it.”

Through YOLA, the LA Phil and its community partners provide free instruments, intensive music training, and academic support to students from underserved neighborhoods throughout Los Angeles County, empowering them to become vital citizens, leaders, and agents of change.

Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas, said, “For over a decade, YOLA has provided thousands of our underserved youth with a world-class education in music that might otherwise have been out of reach, while also teaching them about citizenship, leadership, and social engagement. I am thrilled that the legendary Frank Gehry has designed a new home for YOLA in Inglewood, where young musicians can prepare to take center stage in our vibrant creative economy, and use the power of the arts to tackle challenging social problems.”

Inglewood Mayor James T. Butts, said, “On behalf of the entire City of Inglewood, we are excited to welcome the LA Phil family as the newest member of our extraordinary community.”