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The Case for Downtown

Readily comparable.

Last week a few people laughed to read at a local blog that Downtown is comparable with Winnetka. The Downtown News responded by making a larger case for downtown.

To break it down further, consider the following Downtown projects. These are not dreams or proposals, but actual under-construction or already-funded developments scheduled to break ground soon:

• 1111 Wilshire, a $60 million City West complex that will create 210 apartments in a seven-story building. It broke ground in June.

• Alameda and Fourth, an Arts District effort that will offer 53 artist-in-residence lofts when it opens next year. It is valued at $20 million.

• Chinatown Gateway, a 300,000-square-foot development that will deliver 280 apartments and nearly 600 parking spaces to the southern edge of Chinatown. A previous iteration of the project was estimated at $90 million.

• Lorenzo, an Italian-inspired complex on Flower Street near USC from Geoff Palmer. The $300 million project will ultimately create more than 900 apartments, many to be rented by students.

• Piero II, also a Palmer project. The $70 million complex at Bixel and St. Paul streets in City West will add 335 apartments to the housing stock.

• Wilshire Grand replacement, a mega-development featuring a 45-story building with 560 hotel rooms and some condos; a second phase will bring a 60-story office structure. The total value is $1 billion.

• Grand Avenue Civic Park, a $56 million attraction stretching between City Hall and the Music Center. The 12-acre expanse will come online next summer.

• The Hall of Justice upgrade, which will bring the Civic Center's faded 1925 jewel back to life. The $231 million project will open in 2014.

• The Broad, the attention grabbing $100 million Bunker Hill art museum from philanthropist Eli Broad. It will rise atop a 370-car garage.

• The 7+Fig renovation, a long-awaited, retail-heavy project. It is valued at $40 million and will be anchored by Downtown's first Target.

• Two Marriott hotels in a single South Park building. The $120 million effort just north of the Convention Center headquarters hotel comes from developer Homer Williams.

• Good Samaritan expansion, which will enhance the City West hospital's footprint on Wilshire Boulevard. The $80 million, 190,000-square-foot effort has a groundbreaking scheduled for Oct. 6

That's a dozen projects right there, worth a collective $1.167 billion even before the Wilshire replacement is factored in (since it is unclear when the second tower will rise). It is also an extremely conservative roster and does not take into account many smaller sure things such as the Spring Street park, a healthy handful of low-income housing complexes or a CRA-fueled business incubator in the Arts District.

Nor does the list include a potential game changer in Farmers Field. If the $1.5 billion effort that already boasts widespread political, labor and business support comes to fruition, it will create tens of thousands of jobs during and after construction. Additionally, it will spur even more developments, especially hotels, restaurants and entertainment endeavors in the vicinity of the Convention Center.

Add in the Wilshire Grand and the football stadium/Convention Center expansion and you get more than $3.6 billion worth of investment in Downtown.

The point is, the Downtown development lineup is massive, and gives the region a central point of activity. These projects are already helping a lot of Angelenos in construction and other fields pay their mortgages or rents and feed their families. Most of these people, it should be noted, live outside of Downtown.

I also spent some time looking for things happening in Winnetka, but it seemed the place had gone fishing.