Historic Boyle Heights community on the rise with more than $2 billion in public improvements in recent years, with millions more in private investment – Councilmember Huizar joins business leaders, artists and agencies for groundbreaking Thursday for new decorative sidewalks, lighting and street furniture on First St as part of $12 million improvement
(LOS ANGELES) Sept. 26, 2013 - Councilmember José Huizar joined with City Departments, business and art leaders Thursday in Boyle Heights to break ground on the latest upgrade for the up-and-coming eastside community – a neglected neighborhood in past decades that has seen well over $2 billion in public improvements in recent years. Thursday’s groundbreaking will bring in new, decorative sidewalks, 180 trees, street lighting and furniture with an artistic focus for the burgeoning Boyle Heights Arts District on East First Street and the surrounding area.
As a former Metro Director and as a City Councilmember, Huizar has been instrumental in working with Metro, City departments, community and business leaders on the $12 million Eastside Access Improvement Project, which is aimed at improving pedestrian and bicycle access in and around the Metro Eastside Gold Line route in Boyle Heights, as well as support local businesses and the Boyle Heights Arts District.
“With the help and support of the Boyle Heights community, we’ve worked diligently for a number of years to improve Boyle Heights after decades of neglect,” said Councilmember José Huizar. “That work is paying off with billions of dollars in public improvements over the last several years, particularly here on First Street where a mix of public and private investment is truly opening a new chapter in the history of Boyle Heights. With its arts-themed focus and decorative sidewalks, the First Street Arts and Civic Streetscape project will give the area a much-needed facelift that compliments the unique character of Boyle Heights.”
Besides the First Street Arts & Streetscape Project, other First Street improvements Councilmember Huizar has supported include Green Bike Lanes, the August Grand Opening of the $22.4 million Boyle Heights City Hall at the intersection of First and Chicago, with all four corners of the Mini-Civic Center seeing major improvements in recent years: a new Hollenbeck police station and Ross Valencia pocket park, along with upgrades to the Benjamin Franklin Library.
For Boyle Heights, besides the Metro Gold Line, the neighborhood now boasts three new schools: Mendez High School; Oscar De La Hoya Animo Charter High School; KIPP LA Middle School; The Boyle Hotel, a $24.5 million affordable housing project by ELACC with support from CD14 and the City, which renovated and remolded one of the City’s oldest commercial buildings located across from Mariachi Plaza.
In April, Councilmember Huizar, Metro and the City’s Board of Public Works broke ground on the Eastside Access Bailey Street Garden Project, which will transform Bailey Street into an extension of the Mariachi Plaza station, creating a pedestrian connection from the plaza to Pennsylvania Avenue and Bailey Street. That is scheduled for completion this fall.
Other Eastside Access improvements include renovations on First Street and Cummings Plaza, which will connect the Soto Street and Mariachi Plaza station through landscape, seating, art and shade elements.
For the work on First Street, with input from the project’s Community Advisory Committee (CAC), made up of 20 local residents and community stakeholders, The Urban Forestry Division and the Board of Public Works approved a plan that will see the planting of 180 new trees to coincide with installation of the new decorative sidewalk. The tree replacement plan removes approximately 90 existing trees on the corridor that have caused damage to the sidewalks or could fall if roots are trimmed, creating a safety hazard. Once the project is completed in 2015, First Street, as well as several surrounding streets, will be home to 180 new trees, which will not damage the integrity of the new sidewalks, ensuring the new trees and the sidewalks’ longevity.
Work on the First Street Arts and Civic Streetscape will continue through 2015 and be done in sections in order to minimize the effect on pedestrian traffic and local businesses.
Councilmember Huizar also is working on a mural project to commission nine local muralists to paint individual original works of art on nine utility boxes in the Eastside Access Project area. The boxes (traffic signal cabinets) are located between Boyle and Soto on First Street. More details on that project will be released once work gets underway.
Councilmember Huizar was joined at Thursday’s groundbreaking by, among others, Luis Santana, Bureau of Street Services; Palani Segee, Bureau of Street Lighting; Michael Zeledon, President Boyle Heights Chamber of Commerce; Guillermo Uribe, owner of Eastside Luv and Raul Gonzalez, local artist and Eastside Access Project CAC member, as well as several other CAC members.
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