Thursday, August 26, 2010

Los Angeles Dreams of a New Downtown River Park

A 100 year-old rail depot resides next to downtown Los Angeles, and next to the rail yard is the famous LA viaduct, a ribbon of concrete and steel cutting thought the heart of the city. A study was just released to re-envision this 20th century monolithic development as a 21st century park complete with a green belt, a transportation corridor, and a recreation area lined with mixed-use developments.

The master plan combines existing rail with man-made wetlands and features a green belt of trails for bikes and pedestrians that is fed by Union Station and connects a ring of mixed-use neighborhoods. Baseball and soccer fields are also incorporated into the plan.

Turning the viaduct into a wetland has the added effect of protecting the lower neighborhoods from the flash flooding that the concrete channel currently hastens. The project’s biggest hurdle is also the heart of the reclamation plan - the Union Pacific Railroad’s Piggyback Rail Yard is not currently for sale, according to the owner. Complex negotiations will have to take place for Union Pacific to relocate a major container yard.
As technology changes and the sourcing of alternative resources and materials (which are more sustainable and environmentally-friendly) becomes the norm, the development of 'brown-field' sites could become more common. Old industrial sites which are becoming redundant are unlocking enormous opportunites and potential that has just never been an option in the past.

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