NEWS October 13, 2008
Volume 37, Number 41
Church & State Arrives 16
Going green, money for Little Tokyo, and other happenings Around Town.
Cliche Stadium looks at how the Dodgers got from there to here.
W W W. D O W N T O W N N E W S . C O M
Real Live Jobs More Than 3,000 People Seek Out Positions In AEG’s Mega-Project
Enrollment plans for the arts high school.
Urban Scrawl on the Broadway streetcar.
In the hunt for Class A office space.
The day Downtown got bombed.
Trying to climb 75 flights of stairs.
by RichaRd Guzmán city editoR
rmando Vargas was at the head of a long line last Tuesday morning. On a day when temperatures would soar into the 90s, he was there early in the effort to find a job in Anschutz Entertainment Group’s $2.5 billion L.A. Live project. “I’m hoping to get a job as security for L.A. Live,” said the 19-year-old. “I’ve been here since 8:30 a.m.” AEG officials said about 3,000 people showed up throughout the day on Oct. 7, many with resumes in hand. They were competing for about 500 jobs available at more than a dozen entertainment businesses and restaurants set to open in the coming months as part of the second phase of L.A. Live. Those who set up booths included Lucky Strike Lanes and Lounge, the Yard House, Wolfgang Puck Catering and the Grammy Museum. Although interviews did not begin until 10 a.m., the line on a rooftop parking lot began to form about 90 minutes before that. The job fair continued until 7 p.m. Organized by AEG, most of the open positions were for hospitality jobs, including cooks, bartenders, housekeepers, baristas, ticket sellers and security guards. The new workforce, AEG officials said, is another step in the quickly growing South Park neighborhood, which is home to a bustling entertainment district, Downtown’s only chain grocery store and a slew of condominium and apartment buildings that house thousands of residents. “We’ve said all along that not only will L.A. Live bring more investment into Downtown from business owners and people visiting the theater, the restaurants and the clubs, but it would also have a genuine impact on the job market,” said Michael Roth, vice president of communications for AEG. “These 500 jobs will be in all types of positions, focusing a lot on hospitality, but there will also be management positions and security and public safety tasks.” see Job Fair, page 11
photo by Gary Leonard
How tough is the economy? About 3,000 people attended a job fair on Tuesday, Oct. 7, for restaurant and retail slots in the second phase of L.A. Live. They were competing for about 500 positions.
Making Sense of the Meltdown Downtown Panel Tackles Credit Crisis and How to Fix It The weird world of Martin Kippenberger.
22 CALENDAR LISTINGS 27 MAP 29 CLASSIFIEDS
by Ryan VaillancouRt staff wRiteR
tanding beside a panel of economic and real estate experts about to address the current financial meltdown, moderator Jack Knott, dean of the USC School of Policy, Planning and Development, offered a rather sober introduction. The group of experts that gathered at the USC Davidson Conference Center on Tuesday, Oct. 7, included three academics, one chief executive of an asset management company, another investment firm’s chief risk officer and a veteran equity analyst. It was a group with the expertise and
knowledge capable of offering silver linings. But no such luck. “I had the pleasure of having dinner with our panelists and I was a little nervous about the economy before dinner,” Knott said, before turning the microphone to the group. “Now I’m really nervous. I have a little bit of indigestion.” The panel, organized by USC and titled “The Real Estate and Credit Meltdown: How Did We Get Here and Where Do We Go?” attracted more than 200 graduate and undergraduate business students as well as real estate professionals in search of answers.
One by one, the panelists offered their takes on what exactly brought the economy to its knees. Some blamed multi-party greed, while others took aim at inept regulatory agencies for failing to stop the glut of risky sub-prime mortgages flooding the marketplace. Everyone on the panel agreed that the problem now centers on the harsh reality that major financial institutions simply don’t trust each other. Banks won’t lend to each other and the same lack of confidence has average investors running away from the tumbling stock market. see Economy, page 10
Since 1972, an independent, locally owned and edited newspaper, go figure.
2 Downtown News
October 13, 2008
AROUNDTOWN Convention Center Notches Green Credentials
ulminating an 18-month effort to cut down on waste and energy use, the Los Angeles Convention Center on Thursday will be presented with a certificate for Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design — or LEED — from the U.S. Green Building Council. The award, which represents a widely accepted standard for environmentally friendly buildings, comes after the center invested about $3 million in energy-efficient lighting and air conditioning systems, as well as composting and recycling programs, over the past two years, said Pouria Abbassi, the center’s general manager and CEO. Utility savings have essentially paid off the center’s investment already, Abbassi said. “We believe that for the city of Los Angeles to be, as Mayor Villaraigosa has talked about, the greenest city in the country, it has to have a convention center that reflects those ideals and we believe that we need to be in a leadership position,” Abbassi said.
Little Tokyo WWII Project Gets $4 Million
he Go for Broke National Education Center, a nonprofit organization that aims to educate the public on the World War II experience of Japanese American veterans, has received $4 million from the federal government to help build a new facility in Little Tokyo. Currently headquartered in Torrance, the organization signed a long-term lease with the city of Los Angeles in 2006 for property adjacent to the Go for Broke memorial in Little Tokyo, where they hope to break ground on a new educational venue in 2010. U.S. Representatives Lucille Roybal-Allard and Adam Schiff and Sen. Daniel Akaka requested the funding as part of the Consolidated Security, Disaster Assistance and Continuing Appropriations Act, which was signed into law on Sept. 30. The facility would feature an exhibit built around videotaped oral histories from men and women of the 100th Infantry Battalion, 442nd Regimental Combat Team, Military Intelligence Service and other units that operated overseas
during World War II, said Christine Sato-Yamazaki, president and CEO of the National Education Center. The organization has now raised more than $5 million of the $15 million it needs to build the center, Sato-Yamazaki said. “Go for Broke National Education Center is thrilled to receive this funding,” Sato-Yamazaki said. “It takes us closer to our vision to build an education center where we can offer teacher training and educational programming that will keep the legacy of the Japanese American World War II veterans alive.”
County, State Agree to Land Split
n preparation for the Civic Park that is part of developer Related Cos.’ $3 billion Grand Avenue project, the County Board of Supervisors last week agreed to terminate its joint ownership with the state in a 4.65-acre plot on the northeast corner of First Street and Broadway. The agreement splits the land between the state and the county to help streamline the creation of the 16-acre park, which will run from the Music Center to City Hall. Under the deal, the county will reclaim sole ownership of a 2.69 acre strip of land now used as a parking lot that will eventually be part of the park. The state will gain sole ownership of a vacant 1.96 acre site directly west of City Hall that once housed a state office building. There are no detailed plans yet for that land. The park is scheduled to break ground next spring and wrap in 2011.
Dodgertown on the Way
s the Los Angeles Dodgers chase their first World Series title in 20 years, the team has received an early prize from the city: its own town. Well, sort of. In a unanimous vote on Tuesday, Oct. 7, the City Council approved a motion to rename the area around Dodger Stadium as Dodgertown. The motion, authored by Councilman Ed Reyes, whose First District includes the stadium, will have the postmaster general redraw a zip code boundary that covers the 276-acre property bounded by Academy Drive to the north, Lookout Drive to the south, Stadium Way to the west and Academy Drive/ Solano Avenue to the east. “Dodgertown is about celebrating and memorializing the great tradition that the Dodgers have
Why does this little burger stand attract over a million people a year?
photo by Gary Leonard
Yeah, you already know that the Dodgers swept the Cubs in the first round of the playoffs. But here’s one more look at the celebration after the team closed out the series on Oct. 4.
brought to this town,” Reyes said in a statement. The designation coincides with a $500 million renovation plan at the stadium launched by owner Frank McCourt. By 2012, the historic stadium will gain a promenade, retail shops, a picnic area and other amenities designed to make it a year-round attraction.
Fund Established In Honor of Salonen
he Los Angeles Philharmonic’s Board of Directors surprised the orchestra’s music director before the opening night gala on Oct. 2 by announcing onstage at Walt Disney Concert Hall the establishment of the Esa-Pekka Salonen Commissions Fund. With $1.6 million already raised by the Board and other supporters and associates of the Phil, the endowment in recognition of Salonen’s 17-year tenure will support commissions and performances of new work. Salonen, who will leave at the end of the 2008/09 season to focus on composing, has always been interested in the future of music and promoting new talent. Salonen was involved in selecting young Venezuelan conductor Gustavo Dudamel to fill his post once he steps down.
University of Southern California
Two Nights of “Chit Chat” Experience a new multimedia art form at open-air screenings Friday, October 17, 7 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 18, 8 p.m. Institute for Multimedia Literacy 746 West Adams Blvd. Admission: Free www.usc.edu/visionsandvoices (213) 740-6786
Find out at the landmark location near Downtown. Home of the original Chili-burger. Quality and value since 1946:
Chili Hamburger .............. $2.00 Chili Cheeseburger ........... $2.40
Many Imitate, But None Compare!
IT’S POWERPOINT’S COOL, stylish cousin! Created in Japan, pecha kucha (“chit chat”) is a freeform video art experience set within a fixed framework: 20 slides shown for 20 seconds each. In the hands of multimedia artists – and newbies – pecha kuchas can be funny, political, dramatic, minimalist or enhanced with musical accompaniment. Seven designers will present their pecha kuchas at an open-air screening Friday night. On Saturday, USC’s Institute for Multimedia Literacy will sponsor an all-day hands-on Pecha Kucha 101 workshop for USC students. That evening, the student efforts will be screened, with prizes and refreshments.
USC your cultural connection
A L S O AT U S C :
USC Thornton School of Music Jazz Honors Combo Wednesday, October 15, 7:30 p.m. Six talented student musicians, under the direction of drummer and professor of jazz studies Peter Erskine, will swing Newman Hall with original music they wrote and arranged for alto and tenor sax, piano, bass, drums, banjo and voice. Listen for the group’s theme song, Ernie Wilkins’ “Dizzy Business,” arranged by Joe Zawinul for the Cannonball Adderly Sextet. Alfred Newman Recital Hall (213) 740-2584 Admission: Free
For more information visit www.usc.edu
LA Downtown News
October 13, 2008
Arts High School To Have Audition Process Applicants at $232 Million Facility Will Undergo ‘Exercises’ For Skill, Interest Level by Ryan Vaillancourt staff writer
s construction crews put the finishing touches on the High School for the Visual and Performing Arts, Los Angeles Unified School District officials are beginning to craft a unique policy regarding which students will get to attend the $232 million facility. Once envisioned by philanthropist Eli Broad — whose foundation has given $5 million to the project — as a school for the city’s most talented young artists, the school instead will cater primarily to the low-income students who live in the surrounding communities. While the district will not employ a strict audition process, it will give priority to students with demonstrable talent, or potential, in the arts, said Richard Alonzo, superintendent of Local District 4 and the top LAUSD official overseeing the school. Unlike the Los Angeles County High School for the Arts at Cal State L.A., which utilizes a highly selective audition process to find the county’s most talented students, those who enroll at the campus at 450 N. Grand Ave. will have had little exposure to the art world, Alonzo said. “These parents don’t have the social capital to have their children take piano lessons or take them to art classes and have special instruction, which doesn’t mean that they don’t have the talent or the desire or the motivation to become artists and singers and actors and dancers,” Alonzo said. “We say those same world-class students exist, but kind of like diamonds in the rough in our neighborhood.” Incoming freshmen, sophomores and juniors — the district will forego a senior class in the school’s first year, which begins in fall 2009 — will have to demonstrate talent, or proven potential and interest, to be accepted, he said. Starting this spring, the LAUSD will host a series of weekend “recruitment fairs” that will allow families to learn about the school and let potential students participate in informal evaluations, he said. The events will be open to students from across the LAUSD, as 30% of the school’s 1,700 seats are reserved for children who live outside the school’s feeder district, known as the Belmont Zone of Choice. Details regarding the selection process have not yet been finalized, but Alonzo said the district is working with art teachers and professionals to develop rubrics to determine a student’s fit for one of the school’s four academies: visual arts, drama, music and dance. “The students will go through various exercises, so for those interested in dance we’ll have dance classes so we can see if students have the right posture or bone structure to be able to be dancers, or a child interested in art, we’ll have them make drawings,” he said. The LAUSD is also reaching out to middle school arts teachers in the feeder district to help identify students who would be a good fit for the new school, Alonzo said. For now, Alonzo stressed that the selection process will not be highly competitive. But he said that could change. “The audition will be evolutionary and progressive as the school begins to develop a reputation,” he said. “We hope that in the future we’ll also be able to develop an audition process that will be fair to all kids and won’t be determined solely on economics and what parents are able to offer their children.” Different Method, Same Objective The enrollment process at the High School for the Visual and Performing Arts will differ from that at three other nearby high schools: Belmont High School, the Miguel Contreras Learning Complex and the Edward R. Roybal Learning Center. Those schools, which currently comprise the Belmont Zone of Choice, are divided into specialized academies. The 15 academies within the three institutions focus on areas such as engineering or social justice. To get into one of those academies, students merely have to indicate interest, Alonzo said. He added that 60% of students attend their top choice, and 75% of students get into their first, second or third selections. While the enrollment process at the High School for the Visual and Performing Arts will differ from the others — given
Downtown News 3
the consideration for existing talent — it is still striving toward the same goal of giving students choice, said Maria Casillas, president of the nonprofit Families in Schools and a member of Discovering the Arts, an advisory board helping the district develop the new school. “Compared to the evaluation rubric that they’re currently using at the other schools, like the social justice school, it should be somewhat similar except the arts are more applied,” Casillas said. “At the end of the day, it’s all about giving students and parents choices.” In addition to developing the rubrics to evaluate potential students, the district is reviewing 26 candidates for the school’s principal position, which will have a major role in developing its arts curriculum, Alonzo said. Officials hope to select a principal by the photo by Gary Leonard end of the month, he said. The 1,700 students who enroll in the High School for the Visual and Contact Ryan Vaillancourt at Performing Arts when it opens in 2009 will have to demonstrate some artistic email@example.com. proficiency or interest. The school will cost $232 million.
4 Downtown News
October 13, 2008
EDITORIALS Retail Reality
he impending closure of the Rite Aid at Seventh and Los Angeles streets is being discussed throughout Downtown, with many seeking to uncover what the failure of the 4-year-old business “means.” In particular, some are trying to determine what, if anything, the dissolution of the space in the Santee Village project in the Fashion District says about the overall health of Downtown Los Angeles. It is understandable, this desire to interpret the store’s departure as a symptom, or perhaps even a symbol, of a Downtown that is dealing with a slowing housing market, one where condominium projects are sometimes turning into rentals and foreclosures are increasing, just as they are in markets across the country. The worsening nationwide economic crisis adds fuel to the fire. However, it is wrong to see the Fashion District Rite Aid’s demise as anything more than what it is: an isolated instance in which a corporate store failed because the parent company, despite all its market research, chose the wrong location. This particular Rite Aid will close in November because its sales never met the projections of company analysts and accountants. When it comes to retail, the simple fact of the matter is that some stores succeed and others fail. This happens all across Los Angeles, and indeed, all around the world. Sometimes shops, whether birthed by individuals or mega-companies, die because they are in the wrong location, and other times it’s due to extenuating circumstances such as road construction that strangles foot traffic. Or the store owner just may be a bad businessperson or have a poor product. Whatever the case, stores can and do fail for myriad reasons that have nothing to do with the greater community.
When it comes to assessing the health of the Downtown retail sector, one needs to look at the entire community. Doing so, it is clear that many places are thriving and that establishments with an appropriate product and the right location are finding a loyal customer base among workers and residents. In a Los Angeles Downtown News article last week, a Rite Aid spokeswoman acknowledged that the Fashion District Rite Aid has been losing money every week, but she noted that the company’s two other Downtown stores are doing brisk business. That is the case across Downtown. The Ralphs Fresh Fare, opened in July 2007 and designed as one of the company’s upscale markets, has been a huge hit, and its hours have been expanded. It is not just the big players either: In places like the Old Bank District, small mom and pop shops are surviving and in some cases expanding. The Rite Aid’s demise also was not caused by the nationwide economic downturn. The store opened in 2004, when prices for condominiums were soaring, people across the country were freely spending on big-ticket items and only the most prescient were warning of a coming sub-prime crisis. Yet that store’s problems were always there. There have been some mitigating factors. If more residential units had followed the creation of Santee Village, there would have been additional Rite Aid patrons. Officials with Santee Village developer MJW Investments, meanwhile, argue that the store was not appropriately marketed and that with darkened and obscured windows it was difficult to see inside from the sidewalk. All those factors likely played a role, but mostly it is a case
In Praise of the Sandwich
radition is an easy buzzword to throw around, and a difficult one to live up to. While many entities across the city sell themselves at least in part on history, often it is just a deluded sense of nostalgia. That is not the case with Philippe The Original, which stands as an invigorating success story and, yes, a true Downtown Los Angeles tradition. On Oct. 6, the eatery near Union Station
celebrated its 100th birthday. Like almost everyone who has been there, we love Philippe’s, and we love that it still has sawdust on the floors. We love that it has long, common tables where you overhear the conversations of others, and they hear yours, and we love that you always see your favorite carving lady behind the counter, even if you keep going for decades. We love that blue collars, white collars and no
Urban Scrawl by Doug Davis
collars congregate there and wait their turns peacefully in line, and we love that when you get to the front of that line you can still get a French dip sandwich, a side of slaw or a bag of chips and a lemonade for less than $10. Philippe’s is a special place in Downtown, one that has made a great accomplishment in serving up sandwiches for a century. We hope it is around for at least another 100 years.
of Rite Aid choosing the wrong place at the wrong time. Who knows, another store, maybe one with less merchandise and without the profit expectations of a national chain, could succeed there. This Rite Aid may not have survived. But the Downtown retail scene has an excellent future.
An Inner-City Accomplishment
t the risk of stating the obvious, it is nice to be able to report good news, to tout something that makes a neighborhood better, especially when that neighborhood is one of the poorest and most challenged in the nation. The recent expansion of Inner-City Arts was just such an occasion. Although unknown to many in Downtown Los Angeles, the Skid Row educational organization has been helping low-income children for decades. A spate of new facilities ensures that will be the case well into the future. Last week, Los Angeles Downtown News reported on the opening of a $10 million expansion for the facility on Kohler Street. The improvements will allow Inner-City Arts to provide instruction to 16,000 students a year. It’s an amazing figure. Getting anything built in Los Angeles is difficult. Getting it built on Skid Row is doubly hard. Yet thanks to lead donors Philip and Monica Rosenthal, work by architect Michael Maltzan and the efforts of Inner-City Arts co-founder Bob Bates and President and CEO Cynthia Harnisch, among many others, the elementary to high school students will have a clean, safe environment. They will receive training and opportunities that otherwise would have eluded them. Congratulations on the expansion of Inner-City Arts.
How to reach us Main office: (213) 481-1448 MAIL your Letter Letters to the Editor • L.A. Downtown News 1264 W. First Street • Los Angeles, CA 90026 Email your Letter firstname.lastname@example.org FAX your Letter (213) 250-4617 Read Us on the Web DowntownNews.com
EDITOR & PUBLISHER: Sue Laris GENERAL MANAGER: Dawn Eastin EXECUTIVE EDITOR: Jon Regardie ARTS & ENTERTAINMENT EDITOR: Julie Riggott CITY EDITOR: Richard Guzmán STAFF WRITERS: Anna Scott, Ryan Vaillancourt CONTRIBUTING EDITORS: David Friedman, Kathryn Maese CONTRIBUTING WRITERS: Jay Berman, Jeff Favre, Michael X. Ferraro, Kristin Friedrich, Andrew Haas-Roche, Sam Hall Kaplan, Howard Leff, Lisa Napoli, Rod Riggs, Marc Porter Zasada ART DIRECTOR: Brian Allison ASSISTANT ART DIRECTOR: Yumi Kanegawa PRODUCTION AND GRAPHICS: Kelly Coats, Juan Pacheco PRODUCTION ASSISTANT / EVENT COORDINATOR: Claudia Hernandez PHOTOGRAPHER: Gary Leonard ACCOUNTING: Ashley Vandervort SALES MANAGER: Dawn Eastin ASSISTANT SALES MANAGER: George Caston SALES ASSISTANT: Annette Cruz CLASSIFIED ADVERTISING MANAGER: Catherine Holloway ACCOUNT EXECUTIVES: Vanessa Acuña, Robert Dutcher, Catherine Holloway, Kelley Smith CIRCULATION: Norma Rodas DISTRIBUTION MANAGER: Salvador Ingles DISTRIBUTION ASSISTANTS: Lorenzo Castillo, Gustavo Bonilla The Los Angeles Downtown News is the must-read newspaper for Downtown Los Angeles and is distributed every Monday throughout the offices and residences of Downtown Los Angeles. It is also distributed to the extended urban communities of Glendale, Hollywood, Wilshire Center, Los Feliz, Silver Lake & Larchmont Village.
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October 13, 2008
Downtown News 5
The Munich Way If the German City Can Turn Around a River, Why Can’t L.A.?
any Los Angeles River advocates have long been frustrated by the unbounded and unfulfilled promise of the historic waterway. For those who have witnessed countless studies but little progress in revitalizing the river, any gesture of hope is welcome, however chimerical. It was in this spirit that a dozen or so diehard river rats and the usual well-intentioned bureaucrats and their guests gathered recently to bear witness to a quart of water from a reborn river in Germany being poured into the Los Angeles River. To be sure, the forlorn Los Angeles River receives daily an illegal flood of unwanted liquids in discarded beer cans, detergent containers and toxic Sam Hall Kaplan wastewater, in addition to truckloads of debris as it meanders through the city to the sea. But this particular “dumping,” OBSERVED just north of the Los Feliz Boulevard Bridge, was quite different, heralded as a “co-mingling” of waters. It was also described as a “blessing” of sorts by the earnest attendees gingerly handling a gooseneck glass bottle as if it contained some magic elixir that would release curative spirits that would transform the river. If only that was so. The bottle of water was viewed more prosaically as symbolic of the trumpeted revitalization of the Isar River of Munich. It was carried proudly from the Bavarian city by a beaming delegation of technocrats, planners and politicians, sponsored by the L.A.-based German Goethe-Institut and feted by the Friends of the Los Angeles River (FoLAR). The event was followed by the raising of beer steins in mutual admiration at the RioFest L.A. celebration on Oct. 4 on the landmark Sixth Street Bridge in Downtown Los Angeles. Up until a few years ago, the Isar River was mostly an unattractive, concrete-lined flood channel, similar in many respects to the Los Angeles River — an open sewer serving an industrialized city and its raw backdoor suburbs. Now, thanks to a
committed civil service and citizenry, the Isar is a popular urban riverside park, green and growing, attracting families and fishermen, and featuring sunbathing beaches and rapids for surfing. That Munich could accomplish this transformation in just a decade impressed local advocates such as Lewis McAdams,
‘There is too much talk of the future, and not enough of the present. We could be doing more now, such as making the river more friendly to boating and fishermen.’ —Shelly Backlar, FoLAR
who has been lobbying for the river’s revitalization for a quarter century as a founder of FoLAR. “If they can do it, why can’t we?” asked McAdams as he poured the water from the bottle into the placid river. Good question, and when put to Larry Hsu of the city’s Bureau of Engineering, which is in charge of implementing the ambitious river revitalization master plan approved by the city a year and a half ago, he politely deflected it. The plan, with its $2 billion-plus price tag that took two years and $3 million in consultant fees to draft, today collects dust in the city’s Department of Public Works, with no apparent vigorous advocate. “We can learn a lot from the revitalized Isar,” added the ubiquitous and ever-optimistic City Councilman Tom LaBonge, who as a member of the Ad Hoc Los Angeles River
Committee orchestrated the riverside ceremony. He also served as a tour guide for the delegation, which later in a lecture noted the German “culture of cooperation” that united the various Bavarian bureaucracies critical to the revitalization effort. Now that is a concept you wish could be bottled and city, county and state government officials forced to drink. The Army Corp of Engineers also should take a swallow. To be fair, the cross-jurisdictional muddles that plague L.A. are supposed to be addressed in the plan’s proposal for a River Improvement Overlay district. This involves a three-tier management structure featuring a joint powers authority, such as the one that oversees Grand Avenue, along with a revitalization corporation and a foundation. Inherent in the proposed structure is the potential of lending the plan some teeth. But it could easily become just another bureaucratic boondoggle providing sinecures for termed-out politicians, their faithful cronies and the usual chorus of faithless consultants. Meanwhile, there have been some small victories — a bike path here, an art project there — thanks to the perseverance of such organizations as FoLAR. Nevertheless, the river remains not much more than a concrete-clad drainage ditch and a movie back lot for car chase scenes. “There is too much talk of the future, and not enough of the present,” observed Shelly Backlar, FoLAR’s executive director. “We could be doing more now, such as making the river more friendly to boating and fishermen. Reining in the park rangers prone to issuing tickets for whatever would help.” Encouraging sunbathing, as has been pursued in the Isar, also would help. Certainly Los Angeles has better weather than Munich, as well as the bodies for it. As has been stated time and again, the Los Angeles River has the potential of becoming a dramatic focus of a dynamic city, an engaging resource for a diverse population, and a point of pride to all residents — the sinuous soul of the once and future Los Angeles. Maybe if we simply lease the river to the German technocrats to implement the revitalization it might happen within a reasonable time. Or maybe there really is a magic elixir we could put into the water to do the job. Sam Hall Kaplan is the former design critic for the L.A. Times and an Emmy Award-winning former reporter for Fox News. City Observed is a column by Sam Hall Kaplan. His comments do not reflect the editorial position of Los Angeles Downtown News.
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6 Downtown News
October 13, 2008
Out of the Blue and Into October Those Surprising Dodgers Arenâ€™t Really That Surprising
serious question for my Sig Alert smogmates: How is it that our sports-crazed autolopolis is not awash in fluttering blue mini-flags affixed to everything from chichi Mini-Coops to Cadillac Excavators, in honor of those improbable Dodgers? Sure, the Lakers have been more consistently excellent through the Michael X. Ferraro years, but letâ€™s be honest: Purple and gold is a plug ugly combination. Aesthetically speaking, that STADIUM medium Dodger blue is a more attractive hue. Yet, the banners ainâ€™t there. Why? One theory is shock. Collective shock that the Dodgers have even reached the playoffs, let alone swept the team with the best regular season record in the National League, the Chicago Cubs. Sure, you might say, eliminating the Cubs is like jury duty â€” everybodyâ€™s legally compelled to do it once in a while. But nonetheless, the Dodgers are still standing, and most of you are stupefied. (For the record, and for bragging purposes, on March 31 Cliche Stadium predicted manager Joe Torreâ€™s bunch would get to the playoffs and win their first-round series. Then again, I also predicted Detroit would win the World Series and the Mets would be steadier than Freddie Mac.) The real question is, how did the Dodgers get here? Itâ€™s complicated, of course, with cynics pointing to the weakness of the National League West. Still, these Dodgers have the makings of a team well worth investing $14.99 in a car-flag; they could fly for years to come. Here are Cliche Stadiumâ€™s five big reasons the Dodgers are where they are today, and three reasons why they could even win the World Series (pending the current National League Championship Series with Philadelphia, which was just start-
ing as Los Angeles Downtown News went to press). 1) A Late Lungful of Extremely Fresh Air: Try this simile on for size: Imagine you are climbing Everest, staggering in delirious circles a few thousand feet from the summit, when all of a sudden you check the Himalayan Craigslist, and under â€œFree Stuffâ€? some sherpa is looking to unload his pesky oxygen tanks. And is willing to hand-deliver them. And will pay for you to use them. This is a rough idea of the personnel windfall that came beleaguered General Manager Ned Collettiâ€™s way down the stretch. In July, Colletti and the Dodgers didnâ€™t have the likes of Casey Blake (dependable third baseman), Greg Maddux (Hall of Fame pitcher, still with a few drops of gas in his hybrid tank) or Manny Ramirez (merchandise-mover, media magnet, Supreme Lord of the Lumber). But for various financial reasons (only one of them sub-prime related) all three came to town for pennies on the dollar. Toss in the return of All-Star shortstop and lead-off man extraordinaire Rafael Furcal (who was still recuperating from lengthy back injuries until about three weeks ago), and the word â€œrejuvenatedâ€? becomes a mild understatement. 2) A Calm Cup of Joe: Torre has a pretty even keel. When the Dodgers were foundering behind Arizona this summer, he didnâ€™t flinch. He shrugged. When he scored cover-boy status of LAX, the No. 1 free magazine distributed next to luggage carousels at Los Angeles International Airport (seriously), he didnâ€™t squeal in delight. He shrugged. This que sera, sera attitude creates a calm atmosphere in which talented, but oftentimes easily rattled athletes, can go about their business in peace and be productive. Joe shrugs and the team slugs. 3) The Young & the Ageless: Despite screams and pleas from the media and the fan base, the Dodgers held on to the bulk of their coveted minor league talent during the past five or six years. (Collettiâ€™s gaffes were on the free agent market, shelling out more than $80 million for the damaged duo of Jason Schmidt and Andruw Jones.) The
result is a blossoming nucleus that will give old-school L.A. fans fond memories of the Steve Garvey-Ron Cey-Davey Lopes et al. dynasty. Nine players on the 25-man playoff roster are 25 or under, including Russell Martin, James Loney and Chad Billingsley. Add that to seven seasoned veterans who are 34 and up, and youâ€™ve got a well-balanced demographic blend. 4) The Pen Is Mightier Than Most: Despite the circulatory problems of standout reliever Hong-Chih Kuo and the iffy status of All-Star closer Takashi Saito, the Dodgersâ€™ bullpen is still one of the best in the game. Cory Wade, Joe Beimel, Chan-Ho Park and Jonathan Broxton give Torre plenty of bullets to fire at opponentsâ€™ bats in the late innings. 5) Manny: Sure, he was mentioned in reason No. 1, and Cliche Stadium devoted an entire column to the outfielderâ€™s swing earlier this summer, but have you witnessed what this eccentric import has done in Chavez Ravine? Nearly every time he comes to the plate in October, there is a graphic on the TV screen comparing him statistically to the likes of Babe Ruth and Mickey Mantle. If he keeps it up, and the rest of the team follows his lead, we might just see flags after all. As well as shiny championship rings. Why the Dodgers Just Might Win It All Butterfly-Free Bench: Torre has veteran All-Stars Jeff Kent, Nomar Garciaparra and Juan Pierre at his disposal on the pine. These guys combined have been in more career playoff games than the entire Tampa Bay roster has even seen. The Manny Effect: If the Dodgers play the Red Sox in the World Series, Commissioner Bud Selig may have to prohibit irate Boston fans from attending the games for fear of their tossing boxes of tea at the supposedly traitorous Ramirez (who many accused of dogging it to get out of Beantown) and chanting â€œNo loss of slugging sensation without fair compensation!â€? Second Baseman Blake DeWitt: This previously unknown small-town infielder was the Opening Day third baseman, was Rookie of the Month in May, was sent down to the minors later in the summer, and then miraculously emerged as the starting second baseman down the stretch. Heâ€™s already ridden the rollercoaster, and heâ€™s got a nice compact lefty swing, so the pressure-cooker of October should be nothing.
Regional Connector Transit Corridor Project Update Meetings Regional Connector Transit Corridor Project Update Meetings
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Regional Connector Transit Corridor Study Area Regional Connector Transit Corridor Study Area You are invited to a Metro project update on the Regional Connector Transit Corridor Study. You are invited to a Metro project update on the This studyConnector is lookingTransit at waysCorridor to directly connect Regional Study. the Metro Gold with the Blue and Expo lines This study is lookingLos at ways to directly connect through Downtown Angeles. the Metro Gold with the Blue and Expo lines After twoDowntown series of public meetings in November through Los Angeles. 2007 and February 2008, Metro is now hosting After tworound seriesofofcommunity public meetings in meetings November the final update 2007 February 2008, Metro is now hosting for theand Alternatives Analysis phase of this study. the final round of community update meetings Please come to one of the following meetings for the Alternatives Analysis phase of this study. to learn about Metroâ€™s analysis to date, including Please come to one of theThe following meetings draft recommendations. Alternatives Analysis to learnand about analysis to are date, including Report its Metroâ€™s recommendations expected to draft recommendations. Alternatives Analysis be presented to the MetroThe Board in the November/ Report andtimeframe, its recommendations to December which may are thenexpected authorize be presented to the Metro a full environmental review.Board in the November/ December timeframe, which may then authorize a full environmental review.
Thursday, October 16th Noon â€“ 1:30pm Thursday, October 16th Los Angeles Central Library Noon â€“ 1:30pm 630 W 5th St Los Angeles Central Library Los Angeles, CA 90071 630 W 5th St Tuesday, October 21st CA 90071 Los Angeles, 6:30 â€“ 8pm Tuesday, October 21st Japanese American National Museum 6:30 â€“ 8pm 369 E 1st St Japanese American National Museum Los Angeles, CA 90012 369 E 1st St Content presented at these meetings CA 90012 Los Angeles, will be identical, so make sure to Content at these meetings attend atpresented the time and location most will be identical, so make sure to convenient for you. attend at the time and location most For more information, visit convenient for you. metro.net/regionalconnector or For information, visit call more 213.922.7277. metro.net/regionalconnector or call 213.922.7277.
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October 13, 2008
Crowded Houses Audiences Are Flocking To Bunker Hill by Rod Riggs contributing writer
ummer’s over. Fall arrives on Bunker Hill not with falling leaves, but an influx of ticket buyers at box office windows. Regular subscribers to L.A. Phil performances received mailings some time ago. But when tickets became available MY DOWNTOWN
to the general public last month, the line of would-be buyers stretched from the Walt Disney Concert Hall box office far along Grand Avenue toward Second Street. “Ticket sales have been strong. It feels good for the winter season,” said Arvind Manocha, chief operating officer for the Los Angeles Philharmonic Association. The first day of public sales always generates the longest line, he said. Sales held up well during the entire first week, with normal box office traffic augmented by “a lot of things going on,” he added. When the Phil moved in to Disney Hall in 2003, the season was marked by sold-out performances and filled seats. As the orchestra begins its sixth season in the iconic venue designed by Frank Gehry, audience numbers have “held up and we anticipate a slight increase this year,” Manocha said. “We seek to improve programming and are offering more concerts than in that first year,” he added. Attention to the 2008-09 season is further stimulated by Esa-Pekka Salonen’s announcement 18 months ago that he intends to retire as the Phil’s music director at the close of the season. That brought “a lot of sales during the past six months, up 2 or 3%,” Manocha said, as fans sought to experience the last season under his baton. The appointment of youthful and enthusiastic Venezuelan Gustavo Dudamel to succeed Salonen also has piqued the interest of concertgoers. Although it is impossible to identify concert patrons as Downtowners, “looking at the audiences suggests that not all of the people there are from the Westside,” Manocha said. He also observed more young people among those attending regularly “Our programs have become more diverse and attract many kinds of concertgoers,” he said. “The volume of singleticket sales suggests a diverse makeup of the audiences. It’s apparent the audiences respond to various stimuli.” Downtown’s notoriously tough traffic has not inhibited audience members who arrive from outside the area, Manocha said. “Traffic is a factor all over L.A.” More to the point, he added, “People feel good about the symphony hall and feel free to go there for special occasions such as anniversaries and other special programs. It has come to be a part of what’s happening Downtown.” Even with the larger crowds, he noted, “People can walk up to the box office and get a ticket on the day of many performances.” The Other Side of the Street Disney Hall is not the only hilltop destination in Downtown Los Angeles. Across First Street, on the north side of the Music Center campus, autumnal attendance is booming. The remodeled and updated Mark Taper Forum opened to expectant audiences with the comedy The House of Blue Leaves. Playgoers were almost as excited to see the new features of the building, which was closed for a year as it underwent a $30 million renovation, as with the production. Seven more shows will be presented there by the close of 2009. This month, the curtain went up on the Ahmanson Theatre’s new season with 9 to 5. The world-premiere musical, based on the movie starring Dolly Parton, Jane Fonda and Lily Tomlin, will play in Downtown before it moves to Broadway. The Los Angeles Opera, meanwhile, started off its season with The Fly, an unusual, almost experimental offering that opened in conjunction with Il Trittico, a trilogy of Puccini operas that tapped Hollywood veterans William Friedkin and Woody Allen to direct (David Cronenberg helmed The Fly). The company has since moved on to Madama Butterfly and has six more productions on the calendar this season, including the eagerly awaited beginning of Wagner’s Ring cycle. There are other offerings too. The Music Center has added three global pops concerts to its schedule, along with an additional “Get Your Chops Back” program for amateur musicians, said Catherine Babcock, vice president of communica-
Downtown News 7
SearchDowntownLA.com tions and marketing. Even those attractions don’t exhaust Bunker Hill’s drawing power. The Grand Avenue Festival drew 25,000 people on Sunday, Sept. 28, to take in an array of free concerts and activities. Also on Grand Avenue, the Colburn School has regular performances and recitals weekly, and it hosts outside groups as well. Last month, its Zipper Hall was the site of one of the seven concerts in this year’s Carlsbad Music Festival. Not all of the events are performances. The Museum of Contemporary Art began this fall with an exhibit of the sculpture, paintings, graphics, installation and other work of artist Martin Kippenberger.
photo by Gary Leonard
With Los Angeles Philharmonic Music Director Esa-Pekka Salonen (left) in his final season with the Downtown company, tickets sales this year have been brisk. He will be replaced by Gustavo Dudamel (right).
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October 13, 2008
Really Hot Properties When It Comes to Prestigious Office Space, Downtown Has Some Prime Opportunities by RichaRd GuzmĂĄn city editoR
prestigious address is a badge of honor for many Downtown Los Angeles businesses, and as everyone can attest, sometimes where youâ€™re located matters as much as what you do. With about 2.6 million square feet of Class A office space currently available in Downtown high-rises, businesses looking for the perfect location have plenty of choices. The Downtown market has approximately 22.7 million total square feet of Class A space, with a vacancy rate of about 11.8%, according to figures provided by Grubb & Ellis Co.,
photo by Gary Leonard
U.S. Bank Tower, the tallest office building west of the Mississippi, has about 240,000 square feet of space available, including 10 contiguous floors vacated by a law firm.
a Downtown realty firm. The average asking rent is about $3.24 per square foot. But even in the Class A market, some spaces stand out. So Los Angeles Downtown News asked three Downtown commercial real estate brokers for their opinions on the top trophy spaces available in the area. The experts were Phillip Sample, senior vice president for Grubb & Ellis Co.; Justin Collins, vice president of Lincoln Property Company; and Mark Sprague, senior vice president of Global Corporate Services for CB Richard Ellis. Since there is such a variety of spaces, and the perfect option for one client will not work for another, Downtown News gave the brokers a hypothetical customer: The brokers were asked to find Class A office space for a Westside white-collar firm with 100 employees looking to relocate to Downtown. Although the definition of Class A space is loose, according to Michael S. Goodman, director of membership for the Building Owners and Managers Association of Greater Los Angeles, most agree that these structures have state-of-the-art systems and amenities such as accessibility to restaurants and freeways. They also charge above-average rents. Below are the brokersâ€™ choices for the top trophy office space available Downtown. U.S. Bank Tower: The 72-story, 1,375,000-square-foot Maguire Properties edifice is the tallest office building in the West, and is instantly noticeable. Brokers chose the building at 633 W. Fifth St. due to its prestige and location. It is at the foot of Bunker Hill, close to the 110 Freeway, the Seventh Street/ Metro Center station and the Pershing Square Metro station. According to brokers, there are about 240,000 square feet of space available, including 10 contiguous floors recently vacated by a law firm. Formerly known as Library Tower, the 1989 buildingâ€™s amenities include Maguire Gardens, a 1.5-acre park, as well as the nearby Bunker Hill Steps and a private
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photo by Gary Leonard
The One California Plaza building, which has about 300,000 square feet of open office space, stands out for its location and amenities.
shuttle service. One California Plaza: Another Maguire property, One Cal Plaza, at 300 S. Grand Ave., has about 300,000 square feet of space available, according to brokers. The 992,000-square-foot property made the list due to its location, distinct design and amenities. The 42-story structure was completed in 1985, making it one of the newer Class A towers in Downtown. Cal Plaza is also home to the Museum of Contemporary Art, the Colburn School, the outdoor Spiral Court and Watercourt, where free concerts and events take place, and numerous restaurants. Designed by Arthur Erickson Architects, it won the 1989 BOMA Building of the Year award. Its curving glass walls make it an easily identifiable location, another aspect of being a trophy space, said the brokers. Bank of America Plaza: Located at 333 S. Hope St., Brookfield Propertiesâ€™ Bank of America Plaza has about 52,000 square feet of office space available. Completed in 1974, the 55-story tower is one of the oldest on Bunker Hill, but has been well maintained and is still a premier building, according to the brokers. Its access to the 110 Freeway and nine-level parking garage also make it a top choice for prestigious office space. The principal tenant in the 1,422,000-square-foot property is Bank of America, which is also important â€” amenities are kept up when a major corporation is in the building, brokers said. The building also offers a post office on site, along with dry cleaning and a car wash and repair service. Figueroa at Wilshire: The 52-story office tower, also owned by Brookfield Properties,
is at 601 S. Figueroa St. There are 260,000 square feet of space available in the 1 millionsquare-foot building. The brokers cited the 1990 propertyâ€™s architecture, location and floor plan â€” each floor is column-free and can accommodate up to 16 corner offices. The open floor plan allows for more creativity in designing the office space, brokers said. The tower includes two 75-foot high atria lobbies and an open-air plaza. AT&T Center: The 32-story building at 1150 S. Olive St. was a top pick due to its access to the thriving South Park neighborhood, which holds Staples Center and the coming second phase of L.A. Live, along with the structureâ€™s good parking ratio. The experts explained that in Downtown tenants usually get about 1.5 parking spaces per 1,000 square feet rented, but at the AT&T Center, that ratio is about three spaces per 1,000 square feet. There are about 150,000 square feet available in the 591,108-squarefoot property. The building also features a glass-lined penthouse, which once held a restaurant. That was converted to office space and is being targeted to entertainment companies. The 1964 building owned by LBA Realty recently underwent a makeover that created a new lobby and food court. The exterior was updated with modern metal panels and a glass curtain wall. Contact Richard GuzmĂĄn at firstname.lastname@example.org.
photo by Gary Leonard
The recently renovated AT&T Center in South Park has about 150,000 square feet of available office space. Its location near Staples Center and the coming second phase of L.A. Live is a selling point for potential tenants.
October 13, 2008
Downtown News 9
The Day Downtown Got Bombed Howard Blum Discusses His Book ‘American Lightning,’ About a 1910 Attack on the L.A. Times Building by Ryan VaillancouRt staff wRiteR
ost people have no idea that the Los Angeles Times headquarters in Downtown Los Angeles was the site of one of the most notorious crimes of the 20th century. On Oct. 1, 1910, a bombing at First and Spring streets killed 21 people and elevated the clash between organized labor and unbridled capitalism. It also set the stage for the country’s leading private eye, Billy Burns, a Sherlock Holmes-type figure who was tasked with tracking down the culprits. Burns’ quest, which did not always adhere to the letter of the law, is chronicled in journalist, author and Vanity Fair contributing editor Howard Blum’s new book American Lightning: Terror, Mystery, the Birth of Hollywood, and the Crime of the Century. The bombers’ trial was almost as spectacular as the crime itself, with attorney Clarence Darrow, who set up shop in the Alexandria Hotel (as did Burns), defending the three men accused of bombing the Times. Darrow later faced charges for witness tampering. Blum spoke with Los Angeles Downtown News about the book, the crime and its ties to contemporary society. Los Angeles Downtown News: Why did you decide to tell this story? Howard Blum: Reporters are always looking for stories. That’s part of the job description. On the anniversary of the L.A. Times building bombing I happened to read a story in the New York Daily News, of all places. So I got interested. I wasn’t quite sure what the story was, and I began to get deeper into it. Q: The book mentions quite a few Downtown landmarks, but none played a greater role than the Alexandria Hotel. Why was the Alexandria so important? A: That was just the place to stay. This [was] the place
for fine dining. There were other hotels, like the Hotel Baltimore, where one of the McNamara brothers stayed the night before the Times bombing, but it was nothing compared to the Alexandria. It was a bit of Europe brought to Los Angeles. It was one of the first hotels with in-room plumbing, and it had a grand ballroom, grand dining room and a chandelier that was imported from Europe. It had carpets they claim were brought in from European palaces, lots of marble pillars in the lobby. It was very rococo, and that’s why people flocked there. The dining room was famous and also a bar room where people would meet, and it was a thing to go to. The livery waiters would bring in trolleys with food, oysters and roasts. Q: You’ve said that the themes and storylines in American Lightning resonate across the century. How so? A: Well, you’ve got Billy Burns. He’s like a modern-day Jack Bauer, running across the country to look for the terrorists, and he becomes involved not with just one but discovers there’s a terrorist plot all throughout the country. He really feels he’s fighting for the future of the nation and therefore national security is at stake, so he feels he can do whatever it takes. It’s the drama of the events: terrorists attacking a Downtown office building, people jumping to their deaths, the building crashing down, but in the aftermath, when they’re rounding up the suspects, the response of the people at the turn of the century is similar to now. They choose security rather than constitutionality; people thrown into secret prisons, warrant-less wiretaps, confessions coerced. Q: The book includes a lot of direct quotes. Tell me about researching the book and how you derived those. A: It really was fun. As a reporter your training is to go out with your notebook and interview politicians, so this was like going out as a reporter but going into archives, libraries, sifting through records, sorting through the facts and trying
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Q: In researching and promoting the book, did you find that people were surprised to learn that the Times had been bombed? A: They were totally surprised, and that’s why I liked it. I mean, I was surprised. One of the great things about being a writer is you can learn new things with each new book. And I think people will learn more: It was just sold as a film, so hopefully they’ll actually be shooting at the Alexandria Hotel again. Contact Ryan Vaillancourt at email@example.com.
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â€œIf you think thereâ€™s a chance youâ€™re going to have to move in the next year or two or three to find a job in another part of the country, then I think buying a house is a very risky bet,â€? Green said. â€œIf you have really long horizons at the moment, I think weâ€™re pretty much there [in terms of prices]. Letâ€™s put it this way: If I were a new assistant professor and had no idea if I was going to have a job in six years, Iâ€™d be renting.â€? Developers of Downtown residential real estate, many of whom started building condominium projects within the past three years, are making that decision too as they convert their buildings to rental properties. A handful of area developments have already made the
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ON THE MOVE AWARDS n Town Hall Los Angeles was named one of the Top 10 U.S. Regional Executive Leadership Forums in a recent report by The Catchpole Corporation and Best Practices in Corporate Communications. Town Hall hosts numerous Downtown events with high-profile speakers. LAW n Jeff Imerman has joined the firm Cotkin & Collins. His customary field of practice is family law. NONPROFIT n The Library Foundation Board has added six new members: Betsy Applebaum, who was president of The Council of the Library Foundation of Los Angeles from 2006-2008; Philip B. Flynn, vice chairman and chief operating officer of UnionBanCal Corporation; Steve Ghysels, senior vice president and regional manager for the Wells Fargo Private Bank; Joan Hotchkis, the former president and chair of the Blue Ribbon of the Music Center of Los Angeles; Sharon Rising, who has served on the board of trustees for The Chandler School and the Verdugo Mental Health Center; and Joyce Kresa, who joins the board as president of The Council of the Library Foundation of Los Angeles.
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