To TOD, or Not to TOD

Transit-Oriented Development is one of the watchwords of the new urbanism, and the progressive development world in general. You know the drill: mixed-use, mixed-income buildings, Complete Streets, access to transit, bicycle facilities, reduced parking requirements, etc etc.

So what happens when the suits grant you a giant mixed-user in Los Angeles? One that looks like a typical TOD development in America? And one that is in the Miracle Mile, an area that wins a WalkScore of 94? (Yes, in Los Angeles!)

You get…business as usual! With a side order of questionable aesthetics. Here’s a snapshot of the new luxury condos and apartments at the corner of Wilshire and La Brea:


Despite looking like a convention center more than a domicile, and besides offering only “luxury” units—studio apartments start north of $2000, and while a cat or dog is allowed, a critter companion will cost you $50 a month extra, after a $500 deposit—this shiny lump will indeed feature ground-floor retail, and even has a tiny park way in the back, open to the public and featuring genuine AstroTurf! Be that as it may, poor people need not apply. (They do, though, feature “Hipster Design Scheme” apartments, as well as “Organic,” in the web gallery.)

If you yourself are transit-oriented, you’re in luck (assuming you can afford to move in): the bus routes assigned to Wilshire Boulevard already move more people down the corridor at rush hour than all the private cars combined; the La Brea lines connect to Hollywood and South Los Angeles (and the Expo Line); there are now rush-hour bus lanes on Wilshire that also allow bicyclists to use them; and a Metro Purple Line subway station is a-building as we type.

But is this massive new forward-looking development in itself in any way transit-oriented?

Here’s a clue: for 478 units and a few shops, this building holds 997 parking spaces.

Yes! It is a traffic generator, right on the corner of LA’s most walkable neighborhood! Across the street from what will soon be a major subway stop! The main garage entrance, on a hapless sides street, is not only ugly but nearly one hundred fifty feet wide! They are, to quote their website, “ROAD READY We’re close to Highway 10, which connects to highways 405, 110 and 101. Travel to the beach or wherever your mood takes you.” Just be sure you drive.


The words “transit,” “bus,” “subway,” Metro,” or “bicycle” don’t appear on their website.

They also claim to be “CENTRALLY LOCATED Wilshire La Brea sits at the center of the city, surrounded by Beverly Hills, Hollywood, Santa Monica and downtown Los Angeles.” Apparently Koreatown and Leimert Park don’t exist, though they are closer than the other burgs mentioned….

In other words, another glittering fraud in a city famous for getting it wrong. The Wilshire and La Brea’s website (you can see that they’ve appropriated the intersection’s name for this building) says, “L.A. is always humming, always pushing the boundaries of what’s next.”

Just not here.

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4 Comments

  1. Alika
    Posted July 23, 2015 at 11:19 am | Permalink

    “the bus routes assigned to Wilshire Boulevard already move more people down the corridor at rush hour than all the private cars combined”

    This is awesome. I’ve suspected this for a while but have not seen it in print. Can you point me toward a source? 🙂

  2. Rick Risemberg
    Posted July 23, 2015 at 11:42 am | Permalink

    LADOT was my source; I heard it directly from engineer Kang Hu there.

    Quote here:
    http://flyingpigeon-la.com/2011/06/here-come-the-bus-lanes/

    And another:
    http://www.larchmontbuzz.com/larchmont-village-life/wilshire-bus-rapid-transit-lanes-striped-signed-tickets-next/

  3. Posted July 24, 2015 at 8:28 pm | Permalink

    Great post. The visage of this monstrosity might set TOD back a generation. Parking aside, the height, design and sidewalk-facing facade play right into the hands of critics who decry runaway development and closed-door council deal-making. About the only aspect that appeals to TOD critics is the parking, ironically.

    I bet this is a Metro project. Which should also stoke the anti-Metro crowd too. Lose-Lose.

  4. Rick Risemberg
    Posted July 24, 2015 at 9:05 pm | Permalink

    Mark, as far as I know this is NOT a Metro project. Metro’s properties are on the west side of La Brea. As I recall, the property was bought up before the Purple Line extension was approved and funded. I still buy flowers from a vendor who used to be in a strip mall on the block that now houses the Large Ugly Building, and who moved around the corner to 8th.

    The fact is, the strip mall was ugly, and the massive block-like bank that became a church was also hideously ugly, so the new project is simply carrying on a tradition.

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  1. By Today’s Headlines | Streetsblog Los Angeles on July 23, 2015 at 9:04 am

    […] Development Fails Flying Pigeon‘s TOD Criteria – 997 parking […]