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Panel of National Experts to Suggest Direction for Downtown's "Cleantech Corridor"

By Eric Richardson
Published: Thursday, May 20, 2010, at 12:40PM
Arts District Eric Richardson [Flickr]

This neighborhood of converted factories and low-slung warehouses in the southern Arts District is part of the "Cleantech Corridor," which runs along the LA River from south of Downtown to Chinatown.

For the last two years, the City of Los Angeles has been convinced that a 2,500 acre strip of land that stretches along the L.A. River from south of Downtown to Chinatown was the perfect spot for creating new green jobs. Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa has touted the "Cleantech Corridor" as a key to the city's future, but just how to turn the aging industrial space into a green hub has proved elusive.

Friday morning, a national panel of experts assembled by the Urban Land Institute (ULI) will present their recommendations at a public meeting.

The ten-member panel has been in town for the week getting to know the corridor and interviewing those involved with its development and future. The Friday presentation will cover the group's answers to the 22 questions put in front of it by the city. They ask what strategies the city should use to attract new green businesses, including land use policies, regulatory changes and infrastructure improvements.

The city's early efforts to reshape the historically industrial area were not well received, and have produced limited results.

At the beginning of 2008, the Planning Department and Community Redevelopment Agency jointly announced a plan that limited potential residential development in the area in order to preserve industrial land for industrial uses. Though strongly opposed by business interests and both Councilmembers Jan Perry and Jose Huizar, the plan was quickly implemented.

Villaraigosa made the Cleantech Corridor a major part of his 2009 State of the City speech, calling for a day when "clean technology is as synonymous with Los Angeles as motion pictures."

The plan has yet to see many visible victories. Villaraigosa and the CRA were strongly behind a plan to bring Italian railcar manufacturer AnsaldoBreda to a 20-acre site known as the CleanTech Manufacturing Center. That failed to happen when the firm lost a $300-million contract with Metro for new vehicles.

More recently, the city has been courting a electric car company's battery manufacturing to the site, though no firm deal has emerged.

There have been signs that the city's stance has been shifting toward a more mixed-use environment for attracting green companies. CRA and the Department of Water and Power are partnering on a Clean Technology Business Incubator, and recently purchased an Arts District site immediately adjacent to the Barker Block condo project and its neighboring Urth Caffe.

Friday's presentation takes place at 9am at the Kyoto Grand Hotel. It will be webcast for those unable to attend in person.

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Topic:
Industrial Land Use Policy

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