Held Up by Environmental Litigation, Playa Vista Finally Gets Its Own Downtown

After a hard-won legal battle, Los Angeles' youngest coastal community can finally begin construction on its mixed-use downtown, report Roger Vincent and Martha Groves.

Developers in Playa Vista, a young neighborhood just north of Los Angeles International Airport, spent the last eight years embroiled in a legal battle over plans to build its downtown. Now, with their legal troubles behind them, they have announced plans to begin construction on Runway at Playa Vista in June.

The $260-million development, featuring four city blocks of apartments, offices, restaurants, and shops, faced opposition over its environmental impact report (EIR), which developers must complete under the California Environmental Quality Act.

Playa Vista's first residents moved in ten years ago, and as concerns mounted over the future of the area's wetlands, the state bought "nearly 200 acres of the property west of Lincoln Boulevard to be restored and preserved as the Ballona Wetlands," write Vincent and Groves. "Playa Vista agreed to donate or give up its right to develop an additional 415 acres." Once Runway is completed, the neighborhood will occupy 460 acres, a far cry from the 1,087-acre city-within-a-city envisioned in the '80s.

The mixed-use project "is intended to be the commercial and social heart of the planned community that has been under construction for more than a decade." Indeed, many residents have been waiting desperately for commercial amenities in their own neck of the woods.

"No one wanted the retail to be so large and such a draw that it would become its own mall-like destination," said Con Howe, former planning director for the City of Los Angeles. "Retail will clearly attract some people from the larger area... but it won't become a big shopping mall."

Full Story: Playa Vista finally gets a downtown

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