New Year Brings CRA Disaster in California

Newsletter, West
Tuesday, January 3, 2012
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The CRA's dissolution could be the final death knell for the $3 billion Grand Avenue Project (The Related Companies)

The CRA's dissolution could be the final death knell for the $3 billion Grand Avenue Project (The Related Companies)

Now that California’s Redevelopment Association (CRA) has doubled down and lost its bet with the California Supreme Court, leading to the scrapping of all the state’s CRAs, building projects across the state are in severe jeopardy. There are about 400 municipal redevelopment agencies in the state. Here are the projects in trouble for just one (albeit the largest): the Los Angeles CRA. They include nearly $100 million in grant funds to improve public infrastructure and create affordable housing and transit oriented development, the 126-unit Noho Senior Arts Colony in North Hollywood, the renovation of the historic Westlake Theater near downtown, the 35,000 square foot Wattstar Theater in Watts, the Cleantech Manufacturing Center south of downtown, and the biggest, the $3 billion Grand Avenue Project downtown. More than 20 projects in total are in danger. More to come on this huge news, including more lawsuits than you ever wanted to see.

Held Up: Stalled Projects at CRA/LA

West
Wednesday, July 13, 2011
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Improvements to the Nate Holden Performing Arts Center are now on hold pending resolution of the CRA/LA's status.

On Monday we reported that redevelopment agencies around the state have had to put the brakes on upcoming projects until their uncertain futures are sorted out. Because of recent state legislation cities will have to pay their share of $1.7 billion by this fall in order to preserve their respective agencies. Here’s a good example of the impact. CRA/LA has provided us a list of more than 20 current projects put on hold since the passage of the new legislation. They include the following:

Check out the list after the jump.

Much Ado About Nothing At Grand Avenue

West
Wednesday, April 27, 2011
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The park next to the Broad will NOT look like this.

Curbed LA yesterday shared schemes for the zone around Diller Scofidio + Renfro’s Broad Museum, revealing renderings of two residential towers to the south and east of the project and space for a new plaza.  The images sent the ever-excitable architecture community chattering. But while it’s great to get a better sense of what’s going up, as the blog pointed out and the architects have reiterated, the images don’t reveal what the design will actually look like.

Continue reading after the jump.

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LA Conservancy Votes To Preserve Community Redevelopment Agencies

West
Wednesday, March 30, 2011
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The renovation of the Hollywood Palladium was made possible by a CRA/LA grant. ©Coe Architects

As California’s redevelopment agencies face possible extinction, one notable group has thrown its hat into the ring. The LA Conservancy has announced that it will give its annual President’s Award to the Community Redevelopment Agency of Los Angeles (CRA/LA) for “Its commitment to reusing historic structures—and promoting historic preservation” in its redevelopment plans. “We thought it was a timely way to recognize what they’ve been doing and their role in trying to foster strategic investments across the city,” said Adrian Scott Fine, the Conservancy’s Director of Advocacy, who pointed to the agency’s help with, financing, surveys, and in some cases purchase of historic buildings to  attract investment in historic conservation.

Read more after the jump.

See CRA Sprint

West
Friday, January 14, 2011
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..But maybe not for long.

We learn from our friends at Curbed LA that LA’s CRA (Community Redevelopment Agency) is scrambling to put away funds for about a billion dollars in projects before being potentially done away with later this year. You see, earlier this month California Governor Jerry Brown proposed— among $12.5 billion in budget cuts— “phasing out” funding for all of the state’s redevelopment agencies, a move that, according to Brown, “will return billions in property tax revenues to schools, cities and counties and help pay for public safety, education and other services.”

According to Curbed, the CRA just “quickly put together a draft agreement with the city that socks away $938 million for future projects.” That includes money for The Broad‘s new parking garage, for a new office tower on Vine Street in Hollywood. No matter what you think of redevelopment agencies, the move will hurt architects and builders. So stay tuned next week for AN‘s comprehensive article on just how much it will hurt. Sounds fun, right?

Estolano Takes a Bow

West
Monday, December 7, 2009
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Estolano.

Estolano.

She still hasn’t commented on WHY she left the LA Community Redevelopment Agency (we’ve called a bunch of times…) for Oakland-based non-profit Green For All. But Cecilia Estolano did give an exit interview to the Planning Report. Here’s an excerpt. In it she discusses her changes and achievements at the CRA, including shifting the focus from “blight elimination and building shopping centers” to “creating economic opportunity.” She also takes one more shot at the state government and its “fundamentally broken finance system,” which has recently pilfered much of the CRA’s funds. Finally she makes comments about her new job that suggest it may be a much more efficient place for her to change lives of struggling city dwellers: “I’m going to help Green For All across the country, city by city by city, to utilize economic stimulus funds, federal funds, and other funds to implement organization programs, energy efficiency programs, and incorporate job training and career apprenticeship programs for poor folks.” Sounds like a pretty good gig…

Bad News For LA: Estolano Out!

West
Thursday, November 5, 2009
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Estalano

Estalano

We’ve just learned thanks to the LA Times and Curbed that LA Community Redevelopment Agency (CRA/LA) CEO Cecilia Estolano is stepping down from her post at the end of this month. Estolano was widely-praised for her aggressive moves to promote affordable housing, turn around struggling neighborhoods, establish a Clean Tech corridor in Downtown LA, and bolster the agency’s funding, even in difficult economic times. We just ran a Q+A with Estolano in our last issue, which can be read here. Estolano is reportedly taking a job with Green For All, an Oakland-based environmental group focused on generating green jobs in underserved neighborhoods. We’re trying to get a follow-up with Estolano now, so stay tuned…

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