The long-forgotten dream of a “downtown” in the San Fernando Valley reawakened this week when the Los Angeles City Council took up the issue.
As the Los Angeles Times reports, the council signed off on zoning of commercial space in Warner Center that would double the amount which currently exists to 30 million square feet. It would also lift building height limits which govern most of the 1.5-square-mile West Valley district bounded by the 101 Freeway, Vanowen Street, DeSoto Avenue and Topanga Canyon Boulevard.
The Woodland Hills property, once a horse ranch owned by movie mogul Harry Warner, has turned into suburban sprawl but forward-thinking planners envisioned a vertical urban-dense environment upon which today’s city officials concur, betting that the walkable communities that are thriving in Downtown, Hollywood and other parts of Los Angeles will be as lucrative 26 miles from the city center.
“Why is it important to build here? So people don’t have to be in traffic for a half-hour, 45 minutes to go someplace else,” Mayor Eric Garcetti said while touring the area. “That’s bad for them, but it’s bad for the rest of us too.”
What will contribute to the success of the area is the Orange Line, Metro’s busway that runs from North Hollywood to Chatsworth, with a stop in Warner Center. The line has been so popular that it has exceeded its capacity and there is talk of converting it to light rail.
There are big plans for Warner Center, including a $3-billion high-rise “urban neighborhood” at the 47-acre former Rocketdyne engine manufacturing plant. The mixed-use project would have up to 3.95 million square feet of residential space and 1.1 million square feet of office space. Preliminary plans also call for an assisted-living facility, restaurants, a hotel and a 5-acre central park.
And earlier this year, developers broke ground on a $350-million open-air mall that will occupy 30 acres between Victory Boulevard and Erwin Street. The Village at Westfield Topanga. The complex will feature 87 retailers and plans for more than 4,000 multi-family units, according to the Los Angeles Daily News.
“Warner Center is on the cusp of being transformed from a retail and office center into a cosmopolitan urban hub,” according to theDaily News. The newspaper reports that the area is expected to attract thousands of new residents and visitors over the next few years.
Other plans include a 621-unit mixed-use apartment complex on the former Catalina Yachts building site on Victory Boulevard, as well as 379 apartment units on the site of the old Daily News headquarters at Oxnard Street and Canoga Avenue.
StreetsblogLA has called the development the “Manhattanization of Warner Center.”