LOS ANGELES, Calif. – More than 300 real estate professionals, city planners and other leaders at the forefront of revitalizing the inner city convened Wednesday, March 7 at the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion in downtown Los Angeles for ULI Los Angeles’ (ULI LA) signature annual event, Urban Marketplace. The mission for this year’s Urban Marketplace was to create a forum for attendees to exchange ideas and conceive deals that can contribute to creating a healthier and more sustainable Los Angeles – even in the wake of the Redevelopment dissolution.
In an opening panel discussion moderated by ULI LA Executive Director, Gail Goldberg, panelists, Cecilia Estolano of Estolano LeSar Perez Advisors and former CEO of the Community Redevelopment Agency of the City of Los Angeles, Daniel Tellalian of Emerging Markets and Josh Gertler of Consensus Inc. raised key concerns for Los Angeles as a place where residents can enjoy a healthy lifestyle today and in the future. They asserted that to elevate Los Angeles to be competitive with other major metropolitan cities across the country, LA must find a way to make significant improvements to the core components of a healthy city including access to affordable housing, alternative forms of transportation and healthy food. Below are the top takeaways from the panel presentation:
- “Los Angeles is the most unaffordable market in the US” stated Estolano. She highlighted LA’s lack of affordable housing options siting that many households are forced to spend 50-60% of their income on housing alone. The dissolution of the Redevelopment Agency requires developers, cities and institutions find creative ways to provide for much needed affordable housing options.
- The California FreshWorks Fund, a project of the California Endowment and private-public partnership loan fund raised $264 million to bring grocery stores and other healthy food retailers to underserved communities where healthy food options are more than a 20-minute drive from home. Tellalian stated that the fund was established in response to the severe deficiency in healthy food options in South Los Angeles. He added that the fund incentivizes retailers to invest in neighborhoods where they may not otherwise due to lack of data on the viability of the market, lack of infrastructure or attractive existing building conditions and lack of tolerance for risk in times of economic uncertainty.
- “The County of Los Angeles made a conscious decision to invest in transit with the passage of Measure R by more than a 2/3 vote” stated Gertler. He continued, stating that in order for the transit infrastructure to be effective, it needs to be part of a larger vision for Los Angeles. The fate of too many projects is determined by local communities one small piece at a time. There is a bigger connection between transit, the built environment and zoning that must be considered and harnessed at the regional level. “Connectedness and engagement are fundamental elements of healthy communities” stated Gertler. Transit must function seamlessly within the surrounding neighborhood and regional context to successfully achieve that goal.
- Estolano added to Gerter’s point, “What we lack is a clearly articulated vision of what we want future growth, development and planning to accomplish.” She asserted that the vision must be framed around how a person lives in the context of where their children go to school, how they commute to work with or without a car, how far work is from the home, access to healthy food and ability to interact with their neighbors outside of their personal property.
- In today’s economic environment, Tellalian stated that the public sector needs to be a friendly place for private and institutional investment. Today, Los Angeles is one of the most difficult places to do business and invest. “Why are all of the new developments happening just outside of our city limits?” Tellalian asked rhetorically.
- Gertler concluded with a recommendation to develop a 21st century approach to public engagement. He stated that policy makers need to make it more convenient for the public to participate in the public process and therefore we need to expand the menu of tools to make the opinions of those who have been left out relevant. Communication can no longer be one directional, but must allow for a two-way dialogue.
- Estolano concluded with her recommendations for creating a healthier Los Angeles including:
- Establish a permanent source of money for affordable housing, transportation oriented development and compact urban development perhaps similar to the California FreshWorks Fund model to replace what was lost with the dissolution of the Redevelopment Agency.
- Create opportunity for existing talent and businesses in the region by investing in our strongest sectors and businesses.
- Estolano asserted that in order to make these ideas a reality there needs to be leadership and leadership is going to come from risk-takers in the private sector, in the community and philanthropists who will be willing to push the public realm to think ahead into the future.
Following the opening panel presentation, attendees participated in a series of ongoing Roundtable Discussions to conduct meaningful dialogue about these and other pertinent aspects of urban development.
The following is a list of Roundtable topics, including moderator participants assigned to each:
- Small Development Projects – Moderators: Steve Jones, Founder and President, Better Shelter; Matt Stibal, Loan Consultant, Gateway Business Bank
- Revitalizing the LA River and its Neighborhoods – Moderator: Omar Brownson, Executive Director, LA River Revitalization Corporation
- Transit Oriented Development – Moderators: Ed Casey, Partner, Alston+Bird; John Hrovat, Principal and Co-Operation Officer, Urban Partners
- Moving a Project Forward with Public-Private Financing – Moderators: Tony Canzoneri, Esq., Partner, McKenna Long; Larry Kosmont, President, Kosmont Companies
- Financing Projects with EB-5 Investments – Moderators: Jon Curtis, Principal, California Golden Fund; Ryan Aubry, Senior Vice President, California Golden Fund
- What you Need to Know About Enterprise Zones – Moderators: Andrew Anson, CEO, Empowered Banking; Carolyn Weiss, Director Central-West Region, Los Angeles City Incentive Zones
- Preservation of Affordable Housing – Moderators: Holly Benson, Vice President of Housing Development, Abode Communities; Dan Falcon, Senior Vice President, Los Angeles Operations, McCormick Baron Salazar
- The Future of Redevelopment – Moderators: Robin Hughes, President & CEO, Abode Communities; Dan Rosenfeld, Senior Deputy to Supervisor Mark Ridley Thomas
- Senior Housing and Permanent Supportive Housing – Moderators: Lisa Payne, Policy Director, Southern California Association of Non-Profit Housing (SCANPH); Tara Barauskas, Director of Housing, A Community of Friends
- Downtown LA – The Tipping Point is Reached – Moderators: Hal Bastian, Senior Vice President & Director of Economic Development, Downtown Center Business Improvement District; Kent Smith, Executive Director, LA Fashion District; Blair Besten, Historic Downtown LA BID
- TOD, Infill and Brownfield Development without Redevelopment Agencies – What Tools are Available Now? – Moderators: Leo Rebele, Vice President and Environmental Services Manager, Gannett Fleming
- USC: Changing Campus Adjacent Neighborhoods – Moderator: Brian League, Executive Director of Real Estate Development, USC Real Estate; Jon Soffa, University Architect and Executive Director, USC Planning & Design
- Transit Oriented Development – Moderators: Charles Tourtellotte, President and CEO, TAAG LLC; Gene Kim, Vice President, Parson Brinkerhoff
- Effectively Utilizing Media and Marketing in Real Estate – Moderators: Nazan Armenian, Senior Vice President, Consensus Inc.; Josh Gertler, President, Consensus Inc.
- Healthy Policies for Healthy Cities– Moderators: Bill Roschen, President, LA City Planning Commission; Margot Ocanas, Policy Analyst, RENEW Los Angeles County
- Creative Office Space – Making it Work – Moderators: Thomas Majich, Development Manager, Industry, Ltd.; Milan Ratkovich, Development Manager, The Ratkovich Company
- Downtown Women’s Center Shelter – Moderator: Molly Moen, COO, Downtown Women’s Center; Joe Altepeter, Site Director, Downtown Women’s Center; Maureen Sullivan, Principal, Pica+Sullivan Architects, Inc.; Joe Pica, Principal, Pica+Sullivan Architects, Inc
- Bringing Back Broadway and the LA Streetcar – Moderators: Paul Habibi, Chief Consultant, LA Streetcar, Inc.; Eric Metz, Associate, Los Angeles Streetcar, Inc.; Jessica Wethington-McLean, Executive Director, Bringing Back Broadway, Office of City Council Member Jose Huizar
- Alternative Lending Programs / Life After RDAs – Moderators: Ernest Tidwell, Los Angeles Economic Development Corporation; Vilcar Koo, First Vice President and SME Program Manager, China Trust Bank
- Adaptive Reuse – Moderator: Karin Liljegren, Principal of Architecture and Interior Design, Omgivning
- Healthy Food Financing and Development – Moderators: Vanessa Delgado, Director of Development, Primestor; Carl Middleton, President, Northgate Gonzalez Real Estate Company
About ULI Los Angeles
The Urban Land Institute (www.uli.org) is a nonprofit education and research institute supported by its members. Its mission is to provide leadership in the responsible use of land and in creating and sustaining thriving communities worldwide. Established in 1936, the Institute has more than 40,000 members representing all aspects of the land use and development disciplines.
ULI Los Angeles has an active membership drawn from the counties of Los Angeles, Ventura, Kern, San Luis Obispo and Santa Barbara, and is composed of groups and individuals united in their pursuit of improving land-use policies.
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