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"

Vipers SC sign Rahmat Ssenfuka, close in on UPDF goalie

first_img Tags: Bashir SsekagyaRahmat Ssenfukavipers sc Rahmat Ssenfuka (left) against KCCA last season.Credible sources confirm that reigning Uganda premier league side Vipers SC have completed the signing of former Police FC captain Rahmat Ssenfuka.The midfielder has put pen to paper on a four (4) year deal that will see him at the Kitende based side till the end of the 2021/2022 season.Behind the move is Musa Sebulime ‘Atagenda’ who says the move is the best for the player who had also garnered interest from sleeping giants URA.“His quality is undoubted and he wanted a challenge away from Police, said Sebulime.“Besides, he couldn’t turn down a chance to play in the Caf Champions League,” added the Player Representative.Vipers have had to buy out Ssenfuka’s remaining two years at Police FC to acquire his services.The fees involved in the deal remain un-stated as per now.The Uganda Cranes midfielder, versatile enough to play as an anchor-man or in attack just behind the main striker becomes the league champions first official signing.Ssenfuka is expected to make his debut for the Venoms in the forthcoming CECAFA Kagame Cup due in Dar es Salam midway this month, his second international tournament after he was part of the Uganda Cranes Chan team in Morocco early this year.The signing of Ssenfuka galvanizes reports of a possible departure for midfielder Brian Nkuubi who is reportedly close to a switch to rivals KCCA.Still at Vipers, it is reported that they have reached an agreement to sign goalkeeper Bashir Sekagya from UPDF.Ssekagya is also on his way to Vipers.The youngster who was arguably among the best performers in the second round of the Uganda Premier League is set to become the first signing of the window for the league champions.The transfer should hasten the exit of goalkeeper James Alitho who has been strongly linked with a move away from Kitende in a bid to get first team football.First choice goalkeeper Ismail Watenga’s contract also expires soon but talks over renewal are reportedly underway.Sekagya is one of the best young goalkeepers in the country and has proved his worth while at UPDF.He spent a couple of years with 12-time league winners KCCA Junior Side until last season when he was released to the army side.The lanky custodian was arguably Steven Bogere side’s best performer last season with crucial saves that kept the side in survival race till last day of the campaign.Comments last_img read more

"Vipers SC sign Rahmat Ssenfuka, close in on UPDF goalie"