Renaissance for Plans for the Champs Elysees of L.A.?

Stalled for years by the recession, Sam Allen looks at the prospects for the revival of ambitious plans to remake L.A.'s Grand Avenue.

A remnant of the city's destructive and disruptive urban renewal efforts of the middle of the last century, the site of the ambitious Frank Gehry-designed Grand Avenue project is an unsightly desert of parking located smack in the middle of downtown L.A.'s most prominent cultural, business, and civic area. Born a decade ago in the high-flying days of the housing boom, and anchored by developer Related Companies, the stalled project aimed at transforming this desert into a massive $3 billion collection of high-rise towers, shops, upscale condos and a five-star hotel.

Now, according to Allen, the project may be stirring back to life, albeit in a revised form, "Bill Witte, president of Related California, said that the firm was working to adjust its plans to better reflect market conditions, and that its 'dimensions, scope and scale' could be adjusted. He did not reveal specific details but suggested the new plans would be aimed at getting the project off the ground."

"We still believe we can create some of the highest values downtown....But do I think we have to be a little bit less ambitious? Yes, I would agree with that," Witte said. "The city's and the county's expectation is that they want something with vision and that is doable. I don't think anybody is interested in pie-in-the sky talk."

"Under its amended agreement, Related must begin construction by February 2013 - or obtain yet another extension from the board of city and county officials overseeing the project. Related is expected to bring new plans to the board this year."

Full Story: Stalled Grand Avenue development may get a second look

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