Urban Fold

One Man's Legacy in L.A.

William Fulton reflects on the lasting impact of L.A. developer Robert Maguire III on the city.

"Almost 30 years ago, a young developer named Robert Maguire III came up with an audacious proposal for the greatest development project never built in downtown Los Angeles.

Responding to a request from the Community Redevelopment Agency for a plan for Bunker Hill, Maguire put together a team that included most of the leading architects and planners of the day. His idea was to combine a reconstruction of Bunker Hill's historic urban fabric -- complete with apartment buildings cascading down alongside the Angels Flight funicular railroad -- with a few office towers.

Everybody agreed "A Grand Avenue," as the proposal was named, was a spectacular plan for urban redevelopment. As a mixed-use and urban project, it was way ahead of its time. But nobody believed that Maguire had the financial wherewithal to pull it off. The CRA instead gave the project to Metropolitan Structures, then a leading developer of high-rise offices. It went on to build the prosaic California Plaza -- and went bankrupt doing so.

But no matter. Maguire had made his presence known -- and it wasn't long before he set the tone for big-time development in L.A. in the 1980s."

Full Story: He took downtown to a new place

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