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'Bringing Back Broadway' Unveiling Offers Energy and Promise of Cooperation

By Ed Fuentes and Eric Richardson
Published: Monday, January 28, 2008, at 06:38PM
Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa Eric Richardson [Flickr]

Turnout was high for this morning's unveiling of the Bringing Back Broadway initiative, and the energy in the room gave rise to hope that this might finally be the time that revitalization of the historic street succeeds. The colorful curtain of the Los Angeles Theatre provided a fitting backdrop for a presentation filled with grand ideas for a once-majestic street.

On stage with Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa and Councilman Jose Huizar were the Bringing Back Broadway Trustees, a group of roughly two dozen local stakeholders assembled to guide the new organization. The Mayor and Councilmember expressed their deep love for Broadway and their connection to the street as a child. Huizar recalled watching Bruce Lee films, while Villaraigosa hearkened back to shining shoes outside Broadway department stores.

Early reports on Bringing Back Broadway touted the assembled $40 million in public and private money (discussed here this morning). The $20 million in private funding was explained today to count funds already spent along the corridor, including the renovation of the Orpheum Theatre and the street's residential conversions. No solid number was given for funds available to implement the new plan.

Much more fundraising is left to be done if the ambitious effort is to be realized, and of paramount importance is getting all property owners involved in their share of the rehab. Standing outside the Los Angeles after the presentation, Michael Delijani pointed to the $1 million in yearly assessments collected by the Historic Downtown BID as a sign that owners would do their part. He told how improved cleaning and trash collection have already bettered the Broadway streetscape.

The vision document released today and available online includes a heavy dose of pedestrian improvements for Broadway. Included illustrations show a narrowed roadway with widened sidewalks, improved crossings and street trees.

A centerpiece of the plan is the revived streetcar that would connect Broadway to L.A. Live and the Grand Avenue Project. While progress has been slow since the phase one feasibility study was released in September of 2006, CRA has been working to get phase two of the project rolling. This phase would conduct an alternatives analysis and select a preferred routing, allowing the final process of raising funds and gaining approvals to begin. While there's much work left to be done, one trustee pointed out that Seattle's streetcar took just eighteen months from funding plan approval to operation.

While today's announcement certainly didn't answer all the questions, hopes were high that this time plans will indeed pan out and Broadway return to its place as the heart of the city.

Councilman Jose Huizar with Ezat Delijani, owner of the Los Angeles Theatre since the late 1980s.

Michael Delijani and Councilman Jose Huizar examine a map of historic theatres on Broadway.

The Press

Media shoots over the crowd during the Mayor's remarks at today's unveiling.

Councilman Jose Huizar

Councilman Jose Huizar addresses the crowd during his opening remarks.


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