Grand Avenue Plan Joint-Venture Monorail Proposal

Created by The Grand Avenue Committee in 2000 as a public-private partnership, the Grand Avenue Project’s initial $1 billion phase included a 16-acre civic park, Mandarin Oriental Hotel and Residences, a market rate and affordable apartment development and 250,000 square foot retail pavilion. Oversight and administration of the project are vested in the Grand Avenue Authority, represented by Los Angeles County, City and Community Redevelopment Agency officials. With first phase investments and development commitments for all but the civic park postponed due to economic conditions, the Grand Avenue Plan is essentially on hold, pending reorganization of the privately financed components of the project.

As the Grand Avenue Project’s general planner, designer and contractor, Related Companies California has assumed the primary task of redirecting and restarting the $3 billion project’s private investment and development components, with critical focus on alternatives to postponed or canceled plans for privately-developed luxury condominiums, high end retail shopping, boutique hotel and signature high rise buildings, the financial viability of which has diminished in recent years. With the largely redevelopment agency- funded Grand Park nearing completion, and the original private developers likely to provide the financial stimulus and inertia required to restart the Grand Avenue Project reviewing their participation in the project, a new source of energy and funding will have to be identified, and integrated into the project’s central design, financing and development plans. This will require the drafting and adoption of an entirely new business strategy and plan for implementation of the private sector components of the Grand Avenue Development Plan.

Without imposing significant change to the streetscape or site development designs of the current Grand Avenue Development Plan, a monorail system could be seamlessly integrated into the Grand Avenue Plan Area to provide uniquely attractive and convenient access to art museums and galleries, performing arts, education, outdoor recreation, dining and commercial venues throughout the extended Grand Avenue cultural complex. Three strategically-located monorail stations of the American Monorail-designed and -proposed Downtown Los Angeles Monorail would deliver riders, visitors and patrons to the Broad Museum, Disney Concert Hall, Music Center and Grand Park, within easy walking distance of all Grand Avenue venues, the recently completed outdoor civic park, and the Hill Street Red Line Subway station located in the park.

Extending between, and linking Union Station with LA City Hall, the Grand Park, Music Center, Disney Concert Hall, Broad Museum, extended Grand Avenue, LA Convention Center and LA Live’s multiple venue destinations, the monorail would introduce thousands of visitors to a wide variety of pedestrian-accessible attractions with the greatest efficiency, on the best ride in town. These are patrons, visitors and employees who would otherwise have to drive to downtown, and contend with the rigors of traffic congestion, limited space and high parking fees. In addition to the cultural, recreational and entertainment access a monorail system would provide, the four-mile Downtown Monorail would offer attractive alternatives to commuters and other drivers with destinations in the regularly congested, and occasionally gridlocked city center. A strategically designed and located monorail system could become a new and vibrant source of urban activity in the city center, while its efficient, attractive and profitable operation could become a catalyst for commercial development throughout the Grand Avenue Project Area.

American Monorail’s Downtown Monorail Plan is strategically linked to the regional rail and subway network at Union Station, Hill Street subway station and the Seventh Street Red Line, Blue Line and Expo Line underground station complex, providing easy transfers to and from the Downtown Monorail’s multi-station, multi-venue transportation services, without requiring alteration of the existing rail systems’ facilities, locations or services; further demonstrating the elegant adaptability of monorail systems to existing transportation networks and the full spectrum of urban conditions. Furthermore, monorail systems can create mutual benefits and financial incentives to otherwise disparate business and development interests by providing common access and transportation opportunities not achievable under any other transportation model or technology.

The proposed Downtown Los Angeles Monorail plan stands in stark contrast to the proposed four-mile, $125,000,000 Downtown Trolley, that would form a loop of rail tracks located on the paved surfaces of some of downtown L A’s most congested streets. Notwithstanding the traffic and pedestrian hazards such an ill conceived, retrograde transportation plan would entail, its intrusion and commandeering of existing surface streets, some of which are located in the Grand Avenue Plan area, would virtually guarantee the gridlock of the entire downtown and central city street system. Modern monorail guide way and station structures can be located and constructed with minimally intrusive at grade footprints, and all operating rolling stock and systems located well above all other structures and elements of urban settings and environments.

The independent, financially self-supporting characteristics of monorail systems, and their adaptability to virtually any urban setting or condition, appear to present the most dynamic alternative to the flagging commercial and real estate developments of the original Grand Avenue Plan. Indeed, incorporation of a monorail station or monorail access facilities in or near a new commercial development could significantly reduce the required parking for developments; potentially saving tens of millions of dollars on construction of parking structures, with parking spaces costing $20,000 to $40,000 per space to construct. Parking construction savings on new developments at Grand Avenue and other venues served by the monorail could generate enough savings to finance the construction of the entire proposed four-mile Downtown Los Angeles Monorail System as a privately owned and operated transportation service.

Combined savings in required parking construction and likely reductions in required off-site transportation improvements derived from demonstrable reductions in projected vehicle trips, traffic congestion and mitigating traffic control measures should contribute to further significant savings to all developments and venues served by the monorail system. Financial benefits derived from monorail services and facilities should facilitate the application of savings to participation in the development and ownership of a new, state of the art transportation system serving the heart of Downtown Los Angeles, and its newest attractions.

Based on the introduction of a new mass transportation system that will change the dynamics and financial stability of the area served by a monorail system, by delivering patrons and visitors within walking distance of all Grand Avenue venues and facilities, the Grand Avenue Project Area’s multiple interests and participating investors can be brought into strategic alignment with American Monorail’s Joint Venture, Financing and Business strategies for the solicitation and participation of major investor-developers, public venues and underwriters. This proposed monorail-based, dynamic transportation system is uniquely capable of reinvigorating the Grand Avenue Project and Downtown Los Angeles.

See the proposed route for the Downtown Los Angeles Monorail.

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