L.A.'s Miracle Mile is attracting several large-scale projects that could reshape the corridor of museums and office towers.
The city of Los Angeles has approved six Miracle Mile projects that would add 757 units of housing and more than 100,000 square feet for ground-floor shops and restaurants.
"It's just ripe for development," said Renee Weitzer, chief planning deputy for Councilman Tom LaBonge, whose 4th Council District includes the Miracle Mile. "There hasn't been any good retail there and there's a lack of restaurants, but the people living there really want those things."
Some residents, however, are becoming uneasy about the impact that the development could have. Just to the north is Third Street, where the confluence of the Grove shopping center and several residential developments has added to the area's congestion. There are also environmental concerns, given the area's large deposits of methane gas.
While some urban planners salute the trend among developers to move inward instead of sticking to the outlying suburbs, there is general concern among homeowners groups and others about the inevitable effect of the additional population. The development activity has also spurred new design guidelines.
"There is no elasticity," said Bart Reed, executive director of the Transit Coalition, which advocates building more subway and light rail lines. "There is no more room on these streets."
Rickie Avrutin, who lives in the same house on Curson Avenue where she grew up, worries about the high cost of rents, given the lack of affordable housing in the neighborhood. And she's also concerned about the projects' impact on the area.
"The street I live on is a narrow street that is now used as a thoroughfare, even with the speed bumps." Said Avrutin, a neighborhood council member. "It is bumper to bumper during rush hour."
Weitzer downplays the potential for problems. "As these things come online, people are getting anxious about the added traffic," she said. "Wilshire is still a good street. You know, there's going to be traffic in this city and we try to mitigate it whenever we can."
Running between La Brea and Fairfax avenues, Miracle Mile is home to the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, the La Brea Tar Pits and a bustling office district serving as a base for numerous media companies. But the strip offers few amenities for residents in the neighborhoods to the north and south. Office workers clog the artery during the day but leave it relatively empty at night.
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