Red Light, Green Light

Red Light, Green Light

Early rendering of the Arts District Park.
Courtesy JFAK

The Community Redevelopment Agency of Los Angeles (CRA/LA) continues to face roadblocks in creating a Cleantech Corridor and Green District, a 2,000-acre development zone on the eastern edge of downtown Los Angeles conceived as a manufacturing base for sustainable industries.

The area was first envisioned in the fall of 2008 and was heavily supported by Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa as “the cornerstone” of his “vision to put Los Angeles at the forefront of the clean tech revolution.” The corridor runs from the Los Angeles State Historic Park to Santa Fe Avenue and 15th Street.

CRA/LA has two anchor projects in the area: the Cleantech Manufacturing Center, where CRA/LA hopes to house green manufacturing and technology companies, and the La Kretz Innovation Campus which will include offices for several clean technology-related companies. The former is on the skids, while the latter may finally be getting some traction.

For the third time in less than three years, the deal to sell the CRA/LA-owned 20-acre land positioned as a Cleantech Manufacturing Center has fallen through. Talks with local real estate development and investment company Genton Property Group were recently terminated by Genton due to concerns that the land was too contaminated. The property has again been put up for bid and CRA/LA spokesperson David Bloom said the agency continues to be in conversation with Genton, Trammell Crow, and a handful of other qualified bidders.

Despite that setback, the city is still moving forward with the three-acre La Kretz Innovation Campus in partnership with the Department of Water and Power (DWP). The contract to design and engineer the development was signed before the governor approved legislation to potentially dissolve the state’s CRA’s, thus binding CRA/LA and DWP to fulfill its obligations.

Early conceptualization of the La Kretz Innovation Campus.

LA-based architecture firm John Friedman Alice Kimm Architects (JFAK) have been awarded the contract to master plan the property, located at the corner of Hewitt and Fifth streets in Downtown. No designs for the project have been finalized, but it will occupy portions of an existing one-floor masonry building. Alice Kimm, principal at JFAK, says the firm hopes to break ground in about a year and complete construction a year after that. A 3,300-square-foot temporary space just down the street from the planned site is already up and running.

The planned La Kretz Innovation Campus will mostly be occupied by Los Angeles Cleantech Incubator (LACI), a non-profit launched by CRA/LA and the DWP to help green businesses get their start. It will include 27,500 square feet of administrative spaces, office areas, and conference rooms for 20 to 25 companies, shared Kimm. The LADWP Demand Response Demonstration Laboratory (DRDL) will occupy about 10,000-square feet, and will include workspaces and demonstration areas for clean technology products and electric vehicle prototypes. The rest of the facility will be leased to Cleantech companies or used by LADWP.

The site also includes plans for a $2.5 million half-acre Arts District Park on the corner of Hewitt and Fifth streets. The park, still being developed, would have a grassy area, gathering spaces, shading, a water plaza, children’s play areas and possibly an urban farm component.