With over 10 million square feet of vacant space in Los Angeles’ urban core, the solution to meeting housing and office demand might appear to be clear cut. But a new report from Learning from Los Angeles, developed by the Partnership for Building reuse, sheds light on the many barriers to building reuse, including inflexible and outdated zoning regulations.
The report offers strong recommendations to promote building reuse in Los Angeles. These include modernizing the city’s zoning regulations, streamlining city approval processes, and promoting the economic, social and environmental benefits of recycling exiting buildings. The partnership will expand into four other cities nationwide in 2014.
“Los Angeles has a great track record of reusing existing buildings,” said James Lindberg, planning director at the National Trust’s Preservation Green Lab. “With the revitalization of downtown gaining momentum and new transit corridors developing, the city is poised to become an innovative national leader in sustainable development and building reuse.”
Passage of the Los Angeles Adaptive Reuse Ordinance (ARO) in 1999 has demonstrated the benefits of reusing vacant buildings. More than 60 downtown buildings have been rehabilitated through the ARO, creating space for 14,000 new residents and helping to spur new infill construction that has swelled the downtown population from 18,000 to over 50,000 today. But with an estimated 500,000 jobs downtown, there is still plenty of demand for additional housing, creative office space, hotel rooms, retail outlets, and entertainment and cultural venues.
"The ARO showed how removing regulatory barriers can unlock the potential of older buildings," said Tom Gilmore, of Gilmore Associates, the first developer to use the ARO. "Now we have the opportunity to take this a step further.”
The report can be downloaded on the National Trust for Historic Preservation’s website.