Thinking beyond downtown

first_img 160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set! RISING real-estate costs in Echo Park play a minor role in the 2006 Sundance favorite “Quincea?era,” a convincing glimpse into a young Latina’s traditional induction into womanhood on her 15th birthday bash. Sadly, this role contributes to the death of the quincea?era’s elderly uncle, who was evicted from the house he thought was already his for almost 30 years. It’s a fact of life for many parts of Los Angeles: soaring real-estate prices amid widespread gentrification. Revitalized “downtowns” are springing up everywhere, quite naturally – calling into question city and county leaders’ urgent desire to create a spectacular downtown Los Angeles by way of the Grand Avenue project. Take, as just one example, Echo Park, which, despite its inner-city image, has become highly desirable because the area and its neighbor, Silver Lake, make up one of the hippest sections to party, kick it and live in Los Angeles. These areas are known to cruise not only on the festive reggaeton rhythms of cultural, socioeconomic and eclectic diversity, but, perhaps more so, because of their vibrant night life. Sunset Boulevard from Stadium Way in Echo Park to Hillhurst Avenue in Silver Lake is an energetic night-life stretch of crowded restaurants, busy beauty salons, sweaty taco stands, hectic liquor stores, chill-out straight and gay clubs and, of course, the unforgiving traffic jam. This is the kind of organic night life that the Grand Avenue project for downtown Los Angeles hopes to inspire: a bustling center after sundown and not a ghost town of well-lighted skyscrapers after everybody drives back home from work. But the project has a larger vision. It aims to answer the annoying perception from critics that, unlike London, Paris or New York, Los Angeles has no real downtown and, therefore, has no tangible and visible center that can be metaphorically elevated into the heart and soul of the city. Thus, the Grand Avenue project’s success almost singularly leans on the power of architecture to help reshape downtown L.A. to the ambitious tune of $2.05 billion – including $125 million in public subsidies – as approved by the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors and the Los Angeles City Council. The project planners hope, with high-rise condos, to encourage a generation of Los Angelenos to make downtown L.A. home. Thus, 200 of the 1,000 residential spaces in the project’s first phase are allotted for low-income residents. A 16-acre public park is also included in that phase. But in its entirety, the project includes structures for offices, cultural attractions, restaurants, shopping and other retail spaces. Still, even with that kind of massive change, it’s not clear that the project can make downtown more attractive to most L.A. residents. As county Supervisor Mike Antonovich told one reporter, “The desire for an iconic skyline – that’s just for aesthetics. That should be borne by a developer and not the taxpayers who reside in the entire county.” But the revitalization’s chief architect, Frank Gehry, elevates the idea behind the project into a critical urban necessity. “It’s not New York, it’s not Paris – it’s a different image, and we’re struggling to find it. You don’t have a downtown. This is an attempt to find one,” he has said. But why does our city have to search for one distinct downtown in the first place? Despite our new subway system, Los Angeles still is a car-dependent city. And because of its sprawling geography, Los Angeles is destined to have many distinct centers or corridors that we can readily consider downtowns. We have a “downtown L.A.” in the UCLA/Westwood Village area, the Third Street Promenade, Universal CityWalk, the Sunset Strip, uptown Whittier, the NoHo district, Chinatown, Koreatown and many others. Defined by their own local vibe and sensibility, these corridors are often situated on one or two major boulevards, like Sunset Boulevard from Echo Park to Silver Lake. Because of these distinct corridors, Los Angeles is often perceived as fragmented; but the issue is not about being a splintered city but rather about having a multidimensional cultural character, something beyond mere diversity. Certainly, other metropolitan cities share Los Angeles’ layered cultural identity but still have a distinct geographic center. But Los Angeles is unique, because it thrives on not having that center, resists being defined by one, and still feels centered in our collective pursuit of the American dream. Thus, it’s doubtful that the Grand Avenue project can create a definitive “downtown L.A.” But the project will no doubt add another downtown to our growing network of downtowns wired by bustling freeways, albeit one that is architecturally postmodern, shinier and a little bigger than the others. Michael Baradi is an information-studies graduate student at the University of California, Los Angeles. last_img read more

"Thinking beyond downtown"

SecondQuarter GDP Maintains 25 Growth Rate

first_img The nation’s economy grew at an annual rate of 2.5 percent in the second quarter, the “”Bureau of Economic Analysis””: (BEA) revealed Thursday. [IMAGE] Economists had expected the report–the third in the series of monthly GDP reports by the BEA–to show the economy had grown at a 2.8 percent annual rate, which would have been faster than the 2.5 percent growth rate BEA reported a month ago.The report–coming four days before the end of the third quarter–is more of a statistical footnote than market-moving news. Still, the 2.5 percent annualized growth rate means the economy grew at its fastest pace since the third quarter last year. GDP grew 1.1 percent in the first quarter and 0.1 percent in the fourth quarter of 2012.Nonetheless, it suggested some of the fears that the federal budget cuts known as sequester would severely damage the economy had not materialized. The sequester cuts took effect March 1, the last month of the first quarter. With a full quarter’s effect of sequester growth moved closer to 3.0 percent, which is considered the trend rate of growth. Since 1930, growth has averaged 3.4 percent.In the same report, BEA said corporate profits rose 3.3 percent in the second quarter–slightly slower the 3.9 percent second quarter growth reported last month. Corporate profits fell 1.3 percent in the first quarter.According to the report, resident fixed investment contributed 14.2 percent to growth, up from the 12.9 percent contribution reported in the second GDP estimate a month ago. Residential fixed investment was $487.1 [COLUMN_BREAK]billion in the second quarter, up from $485.7 billion in the report last month and $471.2 billion in the first quarter.Non-residential fixed investment was revised upward as well, to $2.458 trillion from $2.455 trillion a month ago and $2.420 trillion a month ago.The change in GDP largely reflected a positive contribution from trade. In the initial report issued in July–which relied on incomplete data and estimates–net exports (exports minus imports) subtracted about $15 billion from the nation’s economy. In the revised report, net exports added $17 billion as exports exceeded imports.Government spending at all levels was reported at $2.904 trillion–revised up from $2.900 trillion–or 18.5 percent of second quarter GDP, down from 18.7 percent in the first quarter. Federal spending fell slightly to 7.45 percent in the second quarter from 7.52 percent in the first.Federal spending in the second quarter was $3.4 billion below the first quarter. The quarterly reduction in federal spending was the ninth in the last three years. GDP is the sum of personal consumption expenditures, investment spending, government outlays, and net exports. The “”formula”” for GDP is generally expressed as C (consumer spending) plus I (investment) plus G (government) minus X (net exports). If exports exceed imports, the “”X”” in the formula is positive; if imports exceed exports, it is a negative.The improvement in profits came largely in the non-financial sector, where second-quarter profits rose $37.8 billion after falling $3.1 billion in the first quarter. In the financial sector, second-quarter profits were up $24.5 billion after falling $4.1 billion in the first.The price index for gross domestic purchases, which measures prices paid by U.S. residents, increased 0.2 percent in the second quarter, 0.1 percentage points less than the report a month ago; this index increased 1.2 percent in the first quarter. Excluding food and energy prices, the price index for gross domestic purchases increased 0.8 percent in the second quarter compared with an increase of 1.4 percent in the first._Hear Mark Lieberman next Friday on P.O.T.U.S. radio, Sirius-XM 124, at 8:45 a.m. and 12:30 p.m. Eastern and following him on Twitter at @foxeconomics._ Agents & Brokers Attorneys & Title Companies Bureau of Economic Analysis Confidence Consumer spending GDP Inflation Investors Lenders & Servicers Mark Lieberman Residential Construction Service Providers 2013-09-26 Mark Lieberman in Data, Government September 26, 2013 386 Views center_img Second-Quarter GDP Maintains 2.5% Growth Rate Sharelast_img read more

"SecondQuarter GDP Maintains 25 Growth Rate"