The Playhouse District never did add more parking but our business hasn’t suffered. Instead, people are finding alternative ways to get to the area – walking, biking or taking public transit. The economic boom that made the neighborhood more vibrant happened without adding parking – instead, we helped create a more authentic neighborhood commercial experience, and the city of Pasadena saved money for other vital needs.
In the coming months, we will break ground on a project in Glendale that exemplifies this kind of approach to how and where we build our theaters. Together with our partners at Mapleton Investments, we’re moving forward with a $12.8 million mixed-use project called the Laemmle Lofts. It will include a five-screen theater, 42 apartments and 6,000 square feet of commercial space. The only new parking will be a level of underground parking for residents. Otherwise, the theater and retail patrons will use existing parking. For the residents, we’ll be incorporating bike parking and shared car slots for services like Zipcar.
There’s no law that says that every person over the age of 16 needs to have their own car in order to get around Los Angeles. Other options exist such as walking, biking and public transportation. There are huge savings in both the public and private spheres in encouraging those ways of getting around. So why cater only to the most expensive, least-efficient form of transportation?
In June we held the first Tour de Laemmle to encourage community members to bike 125-plus miles in a continuous loop to each one of our seven theaters. For many participants, it was an experience that affirmed that Los Angeles is not a series of freeway exits but a set of communities with their own flavors and local businesses.
I believe that we can build a Los Angeles that is more accessible for pedestrians and bike riders and that encourages the use of public transportation. That starts with good policy and urban planning and smart business practices. I urge our leaders in Sacramento and here in Los Angeles to join in this effort. Together, we can help a greener, more connected Los Angeles take root.
Greg Laemmle is president of Laemmle Theaters.
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