Miracle Mile Residential Association Newsletter • June 2013

Miracle Mile
Residential Association

Newsletter • June 2013 • Los Angeles, California                                                                                                    

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LACMA Faces the Wrecking Ball
New 13-story Office Building Proposed for Miracle Mile
CicLAvia Comes to the Miracle Mile: Wilshire Closed June 23rd

A City of Clichés • A Message from Jim O'Sullivan 
Miracle Mile Real Estate • June 2013 Sales
Metro to Host Meeting on Miracle Mile Subway Stations
(...below the fold...)


Postcard view (circa 1965) of original LACMA campus
designed by William L. Pereira.

Michael Govan, CEO and director of the Los Angeles County of Museum of Art (LACMA), has revealed plans for major $650-million overhaul of the historic core of the LACMA campus. At Govan’s behest prize-winning Swiss architect Peter Zumthor is developing a radical new plan to replace the William L. Pereira designed original buildings as well as the later 1986 addition designed by Hardy Holzman Pfeiffer Associates.

(See this graphic from the Los Angeles Times for an illustration of buildings to be demolished.)
“I didn’t come to LACMA for what it was,” Govan was quoted in a recent Wall Street Journal article  – referring to the opportunity to reimagine the museum complex. “Look at the map! Twenty-two acres in the middle of Los Angeles!”
Zumthor’s plan would require the demolition of the Ahmanson and Hammer buildings, the Bing Center, and the Art of the Americas gallery. They would be replaced by a curving glass-enclosed structure that would allow art to be viewed from Wilshire Boulevard. His concept would connect the Pavilion for Japanese Art on the east side of the campus to the Renzo Piano designed Broad Contemporary Art Museum and Resnick Pavilion on the west.
This is not the first time these buildings have been threatened with the wrecking ball. In 2001 (prior to Govan’s tenure) a controversial design by Dutch architect Rem Koolhaus proposed to replace these buildings with a sprawling translucent tent-like structure – but Koolhaus’ idea failed to gather enough financial, media and public support to get off the ground.
Govan and Zumthor emphasize that this new design is a work in progress – that the project is in its conceptual stages and that it will take years to realize. “I’d like to see the whole campus transformed, edge to edge, over about fifteen years,” Govan was quoted in The Architect’s Newspaper.  Although some sources say that construction could begin in three years. Govan and the LACMA board will launch a $650-million capital campaign to finance both the construction and operation of the new facility.
The original museum buildings, constructed in the early 1960s, have often been derided for being bland and for their awkward arrangement. The 1986 addition of the Art of the Americas building along Wilshire Boulevard struck many as overbearing and out of place. It obscured what was left of the original entryway to the museum and exacerbated the maze-like nature of the complex. Although the architecture of the historic core of the museum is not well loved by the public, over time it has achieved a certain respectablility.  A Los Angeles Times’ reader’s poll on whether the museum should be demolished and replaced revealed a 50/50 vote. Indeed, this new proposal will most likely provoke a similar split decision. That Zumthor's design would not result in any net gain in square footage for the museum is already a point of contention with some critics.
Zumthor’s plans will have their public debut as part of a design exhibition “The Presence of the Past: Peter Zumthor Reconsiders LACMA,” opening June 9 at LACMA’s Resnick Pavilion.
Further reading:
Los Angeles Times:
Wall Street Journal:
If He Builds It, You Will Come 

The Architect’s Newspaper:
A Bolt of Zumthor 
New 13-story office building proposed for Miracle Mile

New 13-story office building proposed

for Miracle Mile

Illustration of new office building (left) on Curson Avenue,
behind Museum Square.
A public scoping meeting was held on May 11, 2013 for a proposed office building at Museum Square. The purpose of the meeting was to preview a model and illustrations of the new building and solicit community input regarding the preparation of an Environmental Impact Report (EIR) on the project. The EIR will address community issues regarding aesthetics, air quality, cultural resources, greenhouse gas emissions, land use planning, noise, as well as transportation and traffic.
MMRA President Jim O’Sullivan and Vice-President Alice Cassidy attended the meeting along with board members Anita Klebanoff and Ken Hixon. Also in attendance was Lyn MacEwen Cohen, founder of the Miracle Mile Civic Coalition, and real estate developer Jerry Snyder, principal of the J. H. Snyder Company – which owns the Museum Square complex. Snyder developed the Wilshire Courtyard in the early 1980s and the high occupancy rates of the Courtyard, Museum Square, and other office buildings along the Miracle Mile motivated this proposal for the construction of this new structure.
The project site is located at 5757 Wilshire Boulevard, between Curson Avenue and Masselin Avenue. The proposed office building will front onto Curson Avenue just east of the George C. Page Museum, La Brea Tar Pits, Hancock Park, and the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA) campus. The project involves the demolition of an existing surface parking lot behind The Counter and Marie Callender’s in the west wing of the Museum Square complex and the construction of a 253,962 square-foot commercial office building and the addition of two new levels of parking to the existing five-level parking structure.
The proposed new Museum Square office building (see model on left) would provide access for pedestrians from Wilshire Boulevard (via the existing Museum Square complex) and Curson Avenue, with vehicle access to the parking structure, for both tenants and visitors, provided along Curson Avenue and Masselin Avenue.
The 13-story building will be 207 feet high and the expanded parking structure will be approximately 72 feet high. The proposed project would provide a total of 2,040 parking spaces – an addition of 550 net new spaces.
“This is just the beginning of the review process,” said O’Sullivan. “Traffic is always our number one concern with any new construction. The City and developers always want to focus solely on the impact of a single project, but the MMRA has to take a larger view – particularly with the Academy Museum and the Shalhevet project also in the works.”
MMRA V.P. Alice Cassidy and newsletter editor Ken Hixon voiced concerns that the initial designs for the new building might be too timid given that it will serve as the eastern backdrop to the LACMA/Hancock Park campus, which is rapidly evolving into a site of very bold modern architecture. "This is an ideal location for cutting-edge design," said Hixon.
Written comments regarding the issues that the community wants the EIR to address are due on June 11, 2013. The MMRA is in the process of drafting a letter detailing our concerns. The public is welcomed to submit written comments about the proposed project to:
Erin Strelich
Environmental Analysis Section
Department of City Planning
200 N. Spring Street, Room 750
Los Angeles, CA 90012
Fax: (213) 978-1343



What we know now as “Museum Square” was constructed in 1948 as the western home office of the Prudential Insurance Company. The eleven-story complex was designed by the firm of Wurdeman and Becket, Architects. It was the largest project to be realized on the Miracle Mile in the decade following World War II. It occupied a 17-acre site and included a 150,000-square-foot branch of Orbach’s department store (where Orbach's remained until it moved in the early 1960s to what is now the Petersen Automotive Museum at Fairfax and Wilshire).

The complex was acquired by the J. H. Snyder Company in 1983; among its major tenants are the Screen Actors Guild and Virgin Entertainment.


CicLAvia Comes to the Miracle Mile



Wilshire Boulevard closed to motor vehicles on June 23rd

(Click on map for larger view.)

The popular cycling event CicLAvia is coming to the Miracle Mile. Wilshire Boulevard will be closed to motor vehicles from downtown to Fairfax Avenue on Sunday, June 23, from 9 AM to 4 PM.
Organizers are promoting the route as “Iconic Wilshire Boulevard” – a two-wheeled tour of the architectural history of the world-famous boulevard.
Last April’s CicLAvia from downtown to the sea (via Venice Boulevard) proved to be an overwhelming success – attracting between 150,000 and 180,000 cyclists. The amount of traffic drew criticism from the cycling community for the congestion and overall slow pace. Concerns have been raised that a similar over-crowding along what will be an even shorter route will impact this upcoming event. Others maintain that since the Wilshire Boulevard route will have fewer crossing points for cars there will be fewer traffic jams for cyclists.
Fairfax Avenue will remain open to motor vehicles and La Brea Avenue will serve as a crossing point for cars (see map). Miracle Mile residents should be also prepared for heavy traffic along 6th and 8th streets and other east/west routes that parallel Wilshire Boulevard.
Further reading:
Los Angeles Weekly:
CicLAvia’s Bicycle Traffic Jams Are The Price of Success?
Curbed Los Angeles:
Next CicLAvia to Show Off Architectural History of Wilshire Blvd.

CicLAvia website


A City of Clichés • A Message from Jim O'Sullivan


A City of Clichés
A Message from
Jim O’Sullivan,
President of the MMRA

Much of the wisdom that comes with age is a result of learning the profundity of clichés. I grew up with the well-worn truism that the more things change; the more they stay the same. The durability of that adage took me by surprise recently as I read the introduction to a Los Angeles traffic study. Here’s what it said:
“One of the outcomes of modern civilization has been the collection of populations into large centers at situations of geographical importance as regarded from a commercial, or as in the case of Los Angeles, a climatic point of view. The massing of such populations has necessarily given rise to numerous civic problems, not the least of which are the providing of adequate urban and inter-urban transportation and the relief of congestion in crowded streets. While the former question can only be regarded as two distinct and separate problems, each with its own share of difficulties, yet such divisions are so co-related, so dependent upon each other for the complete development of any given territory, that consideration should be given them as a whole, and any remedial measures devised accordingly.”
That mouthful is the opening paragraph from a 1915 study of traffic conditions in the City of Los Angeles. (That’s right: 1915). And what I have learned from reading this – and countless other traffic studies of a more recent vintage – is that we have never had a clear and comprehensive vision of how to handle transportation and congestion in the sprawling metropolis that is Los Angeles. And it is glaringly apparent that our modern politicians and experts still haven’t grasped the above-stated concept that “consideration should be given them as a whole.”
This lack of consideration is why with one hand we are spending exorbitant sums on new light rail lines and subway extensions, while the other hand slashes budgets for bus and local DASH service. It is why the City is obsessed with the creation of bike lanes while it continues to ignore our crumbling streets and buckling sidewalks. It is why the City is strong-arming “Transit-Oriented-Density” projects that our failing infrastructure can’t support. And it is why the City routinely issues new traffic studies and then routinely ignores them.
There is little-to-no political will to consider the needs of this city as a whole. That was the case in 1915 and it is the case today. The more things change, the more they stay the same…
But the MMRA intends to confront this chronic tunnel vision, this crazy-quilt approach to city planning. We are going to take a “global” approach to every new project that comes to the Miracle Mile  – large or small. And we are going to do everything within our power to demand that the City does the same. Our eyes are wide open. Because we have learned the hard way that those who don’t know history are doomed to repeat it.

(Illustrations from "Study of Street Traffic Conditions in the City of Los Angeles and the Practicability of Subsurface and Elevated Construction of Urban and Interurban Transit Facilities," by E. W. Bannister, Asssistant Engineer, City of Los Angeles Engineering Department, October 1915.)


Miracle Mile Real Estate • June 2013 Sales

Miracle Mile Real Estate
June 2013 Sales

902 S. Ogden Dr.

3 bdrm, 2 bath, 1,748 sq. ft.
lot: 5,851 sq. ft
listing price: $1,049,000
sale price: $1,085,000

sale date: 5-22-2013

1016 S. Sierra Bonita Ave.

4 bdrm, 4 bath, 2,969 sq. ft.
lot: 10,804 sq. ft
listing price: $1,249,000
sale price: $1,300,000

sale date: 5-10-2013

5670 W. Olympic Blvd.
2 bdrm, 2 bath, 1,169 sq. ft.
listing price: $369,000
sale price: $369,000

sale date: 5-21-2013

726 S. Dunsmuir Ave.
4-unit apt. bldg., 5,552 sq. ft.
lot: 6,839 sq. ft
listing price: $1,385,000
sale price: $1,385,000

sale date: 5-24-2013


Metro to Host Meeting on Miracle Mile Subway Stations

The Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority (Metro) will host a station area advisory meeting to provide community input to Metro subway planners on potential design and features of proposed stations for the Purple Line Extension. The Miracle Mile will be the location of two subway stations: a station at Wilshire/La Brea and another station at Wilshire/Ogden. Residents, business owners, and other interested parties are invited to participate.

The meeting will be Thursday, June 6, 5:30-7:30 PM at LACMA West (The May Co. building), 5th Floor Terrace Room, 
5905 Wilshire Boulevard. Validated vehicle parking is available in the LACMA’s 6th Street underground garage.

Advisory group meetings are intended to function as roundtable discussions where members will engage with each other and Metro planners on issues specific to the design of each station and station area. Each meeting will begin with a brief presentation, then the individual station groups will break into separate sessions to discuss their specific station.

The MMRA has serious doubts about Metro's in-house design acumen, which has resulted in lackluster subway portals in Hollywood and along Wilshire Boulevard. Metro seems more interested in building placeholders that can be easily replaced  by future Transit-Oriented-Density developments that enrich Metro's pocketbook. Metro ignored the consenus of the previous Wilshire/Fairfax station advisory group, the MMRA, and the community at large when they made a last minute decision to move the Wilshire/Fairfax portal two blocks east  to the intersection of Wilshire and Ogden (across from the "Urban Lights" entrance to LACMA). This action suggests that their efforts at community outreach are merely a public relations ploy.

The MMRA will strongly advocate for Miracle Mile subway portals that are of the highest quality – both in terms of design, materials, and construction. As the gateway to Museum Row on the west and as the gateway of the Miracle Mile on the east, these subway portals must be permanent structures worthy of their locations and fully reflect the cultural and historical importance of our community.

(...below the fold...)


MMRA Board Meeting
June 6, 2013
@ 7 PM
Board meetings
are held at
the Berch Lounge
Westside Jewish
Community Center

5870 Olympic Blvd.
on the first Thursday of each month.

All are welcome.

In the news:

(courtesy of Aaron Blevins)

Metro begins relocating utilities under Wilshire Boulevard for subway construction: click HERE for details.

Newsletter Archive:
May 2013 Edition

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The MMRA represents
all the residents the
Miracle Mile.

Miracle Mile Restaurant Guide

This month we salute the oldest establishment in the Miracle Mile: Tom Bergin's Tavern,  founded in 1936. 

Miracle Mile 
History Quiz

Where in the Miracle Mile was this drive-in restaurant located? (Hint: the site is now occupied by another brightly-lit building.) The answer can be found at the Historical Photo Collection on the MMRA website – just click on the photo to find out.

Here's why it's important:
We don’t have addresses for a number of people on our email list. Why is this a problem? Because it makes it difficult for us to communicate with residents about projects and issues that specifically impact their particular part of the Miracle Mile.
For example, the City is required by law to notify all residents within a 500-foot radius whenever new construction is proposed or a local restaurant wants a liquor license, etcetera ­– but if your residence is one foot outside of that radius you wouldn’t be notified.

Click HERE to see an example of the notification area for the new Museum Square office building project and you will see how the notices cease in mid-block.
If we have your address we can make sure that you are aware of what’s going on – whether it be a new building project or a crime alert.  Here’s our privacy policy. You can trust us. So, even if you think the MMRA already has your address, update your contact information today.
Residential Association

James O’Sullivan, President

Alice S. Cassidy, Vice President

Joseph Steins, Treasurer

Ken Hixon, Newsletter Editor

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Copyright © 2013 Miracle Mile Residential Association.  All rights reserved.

Miracle Mile Residential Association
P.O. Box 361295
Los Angles, CA 90036-9495


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