This I did not expect. Driving down La Cienega Boulevard at night, a block of lights in the distance rose above the treeline. Way above, like nothing else in this part of the city. It turned out to be a newly opened 30-storey residential apartment building – Cumulus.
How did this get here!?
I saw the tower complex the next day from the platform of the Expo (E) Line, waiting for the trip downtown:
Vancouverism had apparently come to Los Angeles. Cumulus checked off the boxes: Highrise tower with six-storey podium. Glassy facade in pastel blue. Mixed-use residential with street retail. Built on an underused commercial site at a major intersection. Next to a rapid-transit station.
And it wasn’t the only new development I’d find as I travelled along Metro Rail. TOD – transit-oriented development – had returned to LA.
You probably know the story of early Los Angeles as one of the first streetcar cities: LARY for the Yellow Cars on the local tram routes; Pacific Electric for the Red Cars on the interurban lines – both fabled in silent films and motordom conspiracies (see Roger Rabbit et al.)
Then came the freeways. And finally a century later, those rights-of-way had light-rail lines squeezed in – but by now on some of the less attractive options for transit-oriented development and still set in auto-dependent motordom without much change on anything adjacent except commuter parking lots.
The Blue Line to Long Beach was the first light-rail line in 1990. Three decades later, the dismal suburban/industrial fabric remains largely unchanged.
But in 2016, something did change. As we’ll see in the next post on LA Revelations.