Nevin Sanli, ASA, is President and Co-Founder of Sanli Pastore & Hill, Inc., a specialist business valuation firm. His expertise includes the valuation of business goodwill loss. His clients include both redevelopment agencies and private parties. He also designs and teaches customized training courses on business valuations.
Nevin Sanli can be reached at (310) 571-3400 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
With the announcement last week that the long-awaited Disney Concert Hall will proceed, optimism about the rebounding face of our Downtown is everywhere. Well deserved thanks have gone out to many partners in this process, but strangely missing in all of this has been the thank you which is due to the Community Redevelopment Agency (CRA) of Los Angeles. It is important to remember that the CRA provided the first $2.5 million for the parking garage and public improvements on the site, it provided for the completion of 2nd Street and it provided a consistent nucleus of support for the overall downtown improvement efforts over the past three decades. In short, the Concert Hall would not have been possible without the CRA.
It is also obvious that redevelopment is down and out due to a downward spiral of its property tax revenues, caused not by incompetence or mismanagement, but by the recession of the early 90’s. The revenue shortfalls alone have caused some to declare “failure” and have led some people to believe that the CRA needs major surgery. Regardless, the agency has added needed revitalization and growth to its respective communities, and it is time to recognize that. The agency staff members are dedicated to improving their neighborhoods and communities, and take personal pride in their achievements. Redevelopment has been a powerful force of growth and renewal in the region, and the agency should be praised for all that has been accomplished.
Criticizing redevelopment in Los Angeles has become like criticizing your parents: Upon reflection, there is always more they could have done for you. But can you imagine what life would have been like if it was not there? For example, try to imagine the Los Angeles skyline without the developments on Bunker Hill and in the Central Business District. Not only was the CRA primarily responsible for the Cal Towers development, the Wells Fargo Center and the Museum of Contemporary Art, but its efforts provided support and guidance for most of the other investments in that area as well. Collectively, these developments finally created the “place” which represents downtown LA., and into which the Disney Concert Hall so neatly “fits”.
Not only were the developments themselves worthwhile, but the funds from increased property tax revenue supported the construction of thousands of units of high quality affordable housing throughout the City.
One cannot forget the images of the LA landscape after the 1992 riots and the earthquake in 1994. There are many examples of post earthquake and civil disturbance recovery projects that have not only restored, but also improved communities. Some of these include the Madrid Theatre in Canoga Park, where the LA/CRA led a drive to renovate and modify the earthquake damaged theatre into a brand new live Performing Arts Theater. This effort, which also included street scaping and business facade improvements, helped anchor the center of the old Canoga Park business district.
At Normandie Village, (1747 Normandie), the LA/CRA provided both pre-development and long-term financing to a community based non-profit organization for the construction of 16 multi-family units on the site of a building destroyed by the earthquake. The project had an all woman-owned development team, and recently won an Urban Land Institute Award for overall development.
With agency assistance and leadership, the corners of Adams and Vermont and Adams and Western were cleaned up after the riots by constructing new markets, shopping centers, and a senior housing complex. Other post civil disturbance projects include the award winning Casa Loma project in the Westlake community in East Los Angeles that was designed to meet the needs of single parent households, and includes 110 housing units, a child care center and adult education programs. Other recovery projects include the Watts Housing and Commercial Center, the Japanese American Nation Museums and the Central Avenue Village Square.
The LA/CRA took seminal and critical roles in the renovation of the Central Library, Little Tokyo, new State Offices, Angels Flight, Grand Central Market, the new Cathedral, the Colburn School, the Construction of the Convention Center and the Staples Arena. These projects will be tremendous assets for Los Angeles in the years to come, and which the public can take pride in and enjoy.
But LA/CRA accomplishments do not stop there! The current renaissance in Hollywood is also largely the result of the work of the Agency. The Hollywood/ Highland project alone will bring $400 million in investment to the neighborhood, and the Oscars back to Hollywood Boulevard.
In South Los Angeles the Agency has made huge improvements. One excellent example is the area at 103rd and Compton, (the traditional center of Watts). Even the somewhat maligned Crenshaw Mall is the only major shopping center in the City South of the Santa Monica Freeway. Several new project areas are just now getting underway in South Los Angeles, as well as in East Los Angeles.
These are just a few of the accomplishments that have been made. Literally hundreds of neighborhoods throughout our city have been touched by redevelopment activities, in Chinatown, Pico, Mid-Wilshire, Monterey Hills and many other places.
Usually, large government projects generate criticism. The price of doing nothing will never be known, and you can always find ways that a good thing could have been done better. In most instances those who have expressed strong opinions about redevelopment activities have typically been leaders of special interest groups, or have had political ambitions that demand the selection of agenda issues. But the most important reviewers should be those who live there – the residents, small businesses, and people who patronize the shops and commercial areas that have been redeveloped. Perhaps one should survey the citizens who are the most impacted by redevelopment projects: those who will attend sports events at the Staples Arena, those who patronize the Crenshaw Mall and those who spend time in Little Tokyo.
It seems that redevelopment has been good to our City and has contributed to renewing and revitalizing our community. The good outweighs the bad and we should continue to support redevelopment.