LA DOLLARS AND COMMON SENSE – Will there be a football stadium in downtown Los Angeles? Now it all comes down to whether a couple dozen RRGs (Really Rich Guys), including the cartel that is the NFL and AEG’s Phil Anschutz, can come to terms that make everyone happy. If they can’t, what might a Plan B for the convention center site look like? I laid it out in an LA Neighbors United letter to City officials in December 2011. Here are my comments.
Redevelopment Plan Alternatives for the Convention Center
“In its initial study of the AEG stadium proposal, the City undertook only superficial analysis of alternative proposals to modernize and/or expand existing convention center facilities. Specifically, the City: (1) Estimated the cost of modernizing current facilities to be $50 million to $80 million, but dismissed a capital improvements program as unaffordable — without considering potential funding solutions; and (2) The City said it considered the cost of self-funding facilities modernization and expansion to include Pico Hall, and dismissed that option, as well, as unaffordable.
“With regard to the first alternative, while modernizing existing convention facilities neither would expand the amount of convention center floor area nor directly result in the creation of net-new hotel rooms downtown (two objectives apparently necessary to grow the City’s convention center business), the approach would support maintaining the City’s position as a mid-level player in the conventions business. Thus, this option should not be dismissed out of hand.
“There are funding mechanisms that could be utilized to pay for facilities modernization. For example, the City could enable expansion of LA Live on the City-owned convention center site, including the LA Live Event Deck at the Olympic West parking garage, to allow complementary uses that would be active 365 days a year.
“The site potentially could include an expanded sign district (though we are not advocating that), with revenues accruing exclusively to the City. Or the City could monetize the unused floor area rights [development rights] that it holds in relation to the convention center site. Revenues generated from these activities could fund modernization of the existing convention center.
“Thinking more aggressively, the existing convention center site could be redeveloped to include 1,000 or more hotel rooms directly on site. As stated, one of the key impediments to more convention center bookings is the lack of nearby hotel rooms in downtown Los Angeles. Redeveloping the existing convention center site to include a thousand or more hotel rooms would address this problem head on, and could produce additional convention center floor area [space] at the same time.
“Redevelopment could be accomplished through a public-private partnership … and might or might not include some level of bonding. A number of convention centers across the U.S. have long coupled privately operated hotel facilities with publicly accessible exhibit areas and meeting spaces.
“This alternative — a public-private partnership to redevelop the convention center to add hotel rooms directly on site and potentially increase convention center floor area — has not been studied by the City, despite its potential to bring even more permanent jobs (than a football stadium) to downtown and improve LA’s standing in the convention center business.”
Wednesday the City Council’s Ad Hoc Committee on the Downtown Stadium meets to discuss alternative options for the convention center should the stadium deal not move forward. Fortunately, there are a range of Plan B options to begin the discussion.
(Cary Brazeman, a CityWatch contributor, is chief executive of an LA-based marketing firm. He is founder of LA Neighbors United, a board member of Mid City West Community Council and a former candidate for Los Angeles City Controller. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.)
Vol 11 Issue 25
Pub: Mar 26, 2013