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A controversial plan to bring in new development at Mariachi Plaza has been postponed until February.
Last week, the L.A. County Metropolitan Transportation Authority’s planning committee recommended that its board approve an exclusive negotiation agreement to build approximately 120,000 square feet of retail and office space surrounding the plaza. The development would include construction on Metro-owned land and private land.
But the MTA board decided Thursday to hold off on voting on the contract approval for developers Primestor to allow more time for community input. As Streetsblog LA reports, although many community members were pleased the plans were halted, they were also frustrated about the lack of community engagement by Metro, and said they expected to be included in future plans.
Last week, several business owners and residents shared their concerns for the first time with Metro, fearing that the new development would bring on higher rents and would change the character of the plaza.
“The plaza is a center of community where neighbors can come together”¦the developments would take away that vision of the plaza and its culture,” said Arturo Ramirez, a mariachi musician who finds work at the plaza. “We are not in agreement with the destruction of the culture”¦The mariachis are integral to the plaza and we want to continue to be a part of it”¦It gets its name from us.”
The development would call for the demolishing of several small businesses, such as J&F Ice Cream, Santa Cecilia restaurant and Libros Schmibros to make room for “retail and commercial office space that could provide a combination of food and beverage retail opportunities [and] a fitness center.”
The Metro parcel at Bailey “will be converted into an 8-story office building with 6 floors (528 spaces) of parking and 2 floors of medical offices, helping address the spillover demand for medical services from White Memorial Hospital (which sits across the street from the lot).”
Carlos Ortez, whose restaurant Un Solo Sol stands directly across the street from Mariachi Plaza, also shared his thoughts at last week’s meeting.
“We represent the community, historically, for over 50 years or more,” he said describing the long ties many of the owners have to the area and the relationships they’ve built up with the community. “It would be very shameful to destroy [all] that.”
The Metro’s board also postponed the approval for affordable housing developments at two nearby Metro Gold Line stations.
Sahra Sulaiman contributed to this post.