In the 1990s, downtown Los Angeles suffered from a declining urban population, disinvestment in the urban core, and rising social inequity. Consequently, a progressive group of leaders came together to effect positive change.
The RTKL-master planned, 33-acre area now known as the L.A. Sports and Entertainment District (LASED) is a result of that effort; sited on a former blighted industrial area adjacent to the convention center and downtown’s South Park district, a public/private partnership was formed in 1997 between a master developer (AEG), the City of Los Angeles, and the Community Redevelopment Agency of Los Angeles (CRA/LA) with the shared goals of creating a new sports and entertainment district with an arena for L.A.’s five major sports teams; extensive improvements to district infrastructure and community services programmes; a master plan for a mixed-use district encompassing an expanded convention centre, convention hotel, residential, offices, entertainment, and restaurants in a pedestrian-orientated urban format; and a one-acre plaza for year-round events.
Significant public outreach determined that in addition to the goals stated, RTKL’s master plan would include a community benefits programme offering jobs outreach, wage requirements, small business assistance, and childcare services. Phase one of the project was the design and construction of the Staples Center, a 20,000-seat arena completed in 1999. Phase 2 is L.A. Live, master planned by RTKL and completed in 2010. With the popular NOKIA Plaza at the heart of the project, L.A. Live is a vibrant retail and entertainment district.
The impact of the LASED has been significant and measurable. The adjoining South Park district, once a high-crime area, is now a viable neighbourhood with over 3000 new housing units and numerous retail, office, and hotel developments. Staples Center is a premier venue and LA Live has won critical acclaim and community acceptance, hosting major events like the X Games and the Grammys. To date, over $2.5bn has been invested in the area, but the most significant impact has been in the development of a sustainable, mixed-use community in downtown LA.