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Commercial Reuse Task Force Gets Council OK

By Eric Richardson
Published: Wednesday, November 05, 2008, at 04:49PM
558 S. Broadway Eric Richardson [Flickr]

The F.B. Silverwood Building at 6th and Broadway opened in 1920 as a six-floor, 115,400 square foot department store. Today it offers ground-floor jewelry retail and minimal upper-floor use.

Councilman Jose Huizar hopes that new rules for Broadway's million square feet of vacant commercial space will bring the next great phase of Downtown's revitalization. "We all know the wonders that Adaptive Reuse did for residential," Huizar told the Council this morning. "Let's do the same for [commercial] spaces."

Council today passed the motion that Huizar had introduced just two weeks ago. It asked for a task force to be created that would come up with new rules to govern the revitalization of empty commercial space on Broadway and in the Historic Core. Many buildings have been empty so long that their occupancy permits have expired, and any new use would require substantial and often impractical retrofitting.

Today's action instructs the Community Redevelopment Agency to convene the "Bringing Back Broadway Commercial Reuse Task Force," to include representatives from "the Department of Building & Safety; Los Angeles Fire Department; Department of City Planning; Office of Historic Resources; Department of Public Works; Bureau of Sanitation; Department of Water and Power; Community Development Department; Chief Legislative Analyst's Office; City Attorney's Office; Council District 14; Council District 9; the Mayor's Office and other departments/agencies as necessary, along with business and development representatives to be identified by CD14."

Once convened, the task force is instructed to report back in 60 days. It is asked to look at ways to ease the rules on reuse, as well as ways to spur new uses in the historic buildings.

The motion also asks that any change-of-use projects in-process in the Historic Core be placed into case management, a mechanism for making sure that applicants are dealing with the proper departments and moving forward efficiently.

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