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News Update -- MTA Development at Wilshire & Vermont


The CRA Wilshire Center/Koreatown Community Advisory Committee, Wilshire Center Chamber of Commerce, Korean-American Chamber of Commerce, the Korean American Coalition, and the Wilshire Center Business Improvement District were successful in persuading the MTA Board of Directors, at the February 22, 01 MTA Board Meeting, to oppose an exclusive development agreement with the LAUSD and to continue with the development of an RFP which would include a mixed-use commercial/retail facility with a small school at the MTA property at Wilshire & Vermont.

The Board directed MTA staff to work with the Wilshire Center community and the LAUSD, to continue to develop an RFP, which would ensure the best and most timely development proposal for the community, and the MTA. The Board will review the suggested RFP at the next Board Meeting in March and the RFP will then be sent to the development community.

Gary Russell, President of the Wilshire Center Chamber of Commerce states: "This is a big win for the business and residential community of Wilshire Center. We need small, neighborhood schools and we need to stimulate commercial and retail development in this community. The Wilshire & Vermont location is a major anchor in our district and the partnered efforts of the MTA, LAUSD and community groups will ensure that all of our needs are being addressed."

The intersection of Wilshire & Vermont is potentially a major anchor in the community and its use will significantly impact and drive the retail, corporate and residential development in and around Wilshire Center. Wilshire Center is deeply committed to advocate for and support those elements that make the Wilshire Corridor and the communities along it a thriving urban area. Those elements include integrating a strong working relationship between local businesses and residents, good pedestrian environments, quality schools, and an effective transportation system.

The Wilshire Center community could support the LAUSD's concept to build public schools in the context of a small school in a mixed-use (retail/business/arts/education) facility at Wilshire & Vermont, which may be managed by the LAUSD or by a non-profit charter program. The Wilshire Center opposes any exclusive large development that does not address the diverse mixed-use needs of the community at this intersection. The community does support, in principle, a commercial/residential development of this property, which could include a small school positioned primarily on the northeast section of the property (6th Street and Shatto Place).

Board President Genethia Hayes states: "Future plans for downtown Los Angeles could include charter schools operated by private entities ranging from utility companies to law firms."

The solution to Wilshire Center community's need for schools is several small schools of several hundred students throughout our community, which are convenient and accessible to students, parents and community leaders, in mixed-use facilities, which encourage community involvement, partnerships in education and enhance and drive the development of a diverse, integrated and sustainable urban community.

Get involved in the decision making process for the future of our community, starting with the MTA site at Wilshire & Vermont. We need your support and participation by making sure our position is known and supported by Caprice Young and the LAUSD Board of Directors, the MTA Board of Directors, the media and your neighbors, co-workers, property owners, business leaders and stakeholders in the Wilshire Center community.

For more information and/or to lend your support, email infowc@wilshirecenter.com

Stories on this issue from the media:

Friday, February 23, 2001
MTA to Seek Developer for School at Red Line Station
From a Los Angeles Times Staff Writer

A plan to build a middle school at a Wilshire Boulevard Red Line station moved a step forward Thursday when the Metropolitan Transportation Authority board agreed to open negotiations with the Los Angeles Unified School District. The MTA will seek a private developer to build the school for the district, along with commercial and possibly residential developments. Board members said they want a mixed-use project to move forward as quickly as possible, with the MTA retaining control. The negotiations would establish the size and type of the school. The school district's current plan calls for a middle school for as many as 1,300 students. Business groups had opposed an initial plan using the entire seven-acre property at Wilshire Boulevard and Vermont Avenue. Gary Russell, president of the Wilshire Center Chamber of Commerce, said a school of 300 to 800 students would be acceptable, however. The MTA board formally dropped the idea of building a high school on the Red Line station in North Hollywood. After that plan encountered considerable opposition last month, the school district switched to another site in the North Hollywood Redevelopment Project.

SCHOOLS - School May Be Built as Part of Subway Station, 2/28-3/4/01 issue of LABJ
CHRISTOPHER KEOUGH staff Reporter for the Los Angeles Business Journal

The Metropolitan Transportation Authority has agreed to negotiate with the L.A. Unified School District to have a middle school built atop the Wilshire/Vermont subway station. The board approved a 60-day exclusive negotiation period with LAUSD and ordered MTA officials to return within 30 days with a request for development proposals. While a construction timetable has not been set, a typical RFP requires responses within 60 days.
The proposal comes as the school district is desperately searching for sites to build upwards of 100 schools.
Carol Inge, director of station area management for the MTA, said a school could be a valid component of mixed-use development at the site. She said that whoever wins the development contract would also build the remaining uses - whether in the form of retail, residential or office space, or a combination.
MTA's vision is for retail space along Wilshire and Vermont with residential units built above the commercial space. The school would be on "the back" (northeast) portion of the property. Gary Russell, executive director of the Wilshire Center Business Improvement Corp. and president of the Wilshire Center Chamber of Commerce, stressed the importance of making the most of the site's development potential. "It is a large property. It is our kingpin piece," he said. The organizations he heads and many in the area's Korean-American business community would not be opposed to a moderate-sized school, he said, as long as it housed no more than 800 students. Inge said the proposal guidelines allow for anywhere from a 700 to 1,300 student school.

MTA to take lead developing school at subway station site. (Article from the L. A. Independence, 3/01/01)

The Los Angeles Unified School District wants to build a school adjacent to the Wilshire/Vermont Metro Red Line station. Metropolitan Transportation Authority board members, voicing mistrust of Los Angeles Unified School District on development matters, voted last week to take control of the bidding process to build a school near the Wilshire/Vermont subway station. "I want to get this thing done," Mayor Richard Riordan said of developing a school adjacent to the Metro Red Line station at Wilshire Boulevard and Vermont Avenue. The MTA planned to use land near the North Hollywood and Wilshire/Vermont stations for mixed-use residential and commercial developments. Then in December, LAUSD officials contacted the MTA and said they wanted to build schools on both sites, and incorporate the campuses into the commercial and residential aspects of the development. Later, the North Hollywood site was rejected as too small for a school. LAUSD officials still want a school at the Wilshire/Vermont station, and have cited an "enormous need" for more classrooms in that area. The board agreed to give the LAUSD exclusive rights to negotiate a deal with a developer. The MTA will be the lead agency in drawing up the bid and will select the developer. "I do not have confidence that the [LAUSD] can get to first base on development," said Supervisor Zev Yaroslavsky, who led the effort to take control of the bidding process. In consultation with the school district, MTA staff will draw up parameters of the bid and submit it to the MTA board within 30 days for approval. That is fine with LAUSD officials, who say they are understaffed for such a large project anyway. "We are not in the business of running and issuing [bids] for Taco Bells, apartment buildings and schools," said Scott Graham, the LAUSD's director of real estate. "We are fully occupied building schools." Wilshire Center community leaders applauded the MTA's decision to continue pursuing a mixed-use development on the site. "This is a big win for the business and residential community of Wilshire Center," said Gary Russell, president of the Wilshire Center Chamber of Commerce. "We need small, neighborhood schools and we need to stimulate commercial and retail development in this community. The Wilshire and Vermont location is a major anchor in our district and the partnered efforts of the MTA, LAUSD and community groups will ensure that all of our needs are being met." Although LAUSD officials have talked of building a middle school for between 700 and 1,300 students on the Wilshire/Vermont site, Russell says the community would prefer a smaller school there. "What can that site support? We're saying we believe somewhere from a 400 to 800 student facility could be put there. Our strategy is a series of smaller schools to meet the need," he said. "The bottom line is we need to get these kids educated." The MTA board will return to the matter at its March meeting.

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