Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Daily Breeze: San Pedro making way for big condominium project

According to an August 7 story in the Daily Breeze by Dennis Lim called Boom ... then it's gone, San Pedro imploded its old Pacific Trade Center to make way for a 16 story, 318 unit high rise condominium project. According to local councilwoman Janice Hahn, the condo project was "symbolic" of San Pedro's future.

When I read this, I had to ask myself why the trade center was no longer needed. Is it because we on the west coast no longer export sufficiently to require it? Perhaps this implosion was also symbolic in a way that councilwoman Janice Hahn had not considered - of an economy in long-term deterioration. And if this condo project is symbolic of a future where we live like a bunch of packed sardines, I don't know about the rest of you, but I want no part of it. The good councilwoman chose to see the bright side instead, saying it was symbolic of "San Pedro's transition into a vibrant, highly desirable place to live..." Perhaps this sardine canning condo project is indicative of another aspect of our future, massive cheap new construction being dumped on the market making it more difficult for owners of existing homes to sell.

Given how the housing market appears to be deteriorating, though, there could be a possibility that building plans can change.

And one good thing came out of the implosion! Local firefighters used the rubble as an opportunity to practice search and rescue drills.

Note: I did not link to the Daily Breeze story on this blog page because that newspaper's stories quickly become inaccessible. I'll post it in the comments.

3 Comments:

Blogger bearmaster said...

Here's a link to the story, but expect the link to die in the near future:

http://www.dailybreeze.com/news/articles/3504721.html

7:08 AM, August 09, 2006  
Blogger Wannabuy said...

Bearmaster,

On some points I agree and some I disagree on this...

A little background. That demolished building was unused for 16 years. While I would have to ask someone of the details, the skuttlebut I heard is that it was an incredibly poor design for a convention center and just not usefull for anything else. :( So thus, the building did have to go.

Where I agree is that in the mania to cash in on today's out of hand home & condo prices, we're destroying businesses to make homes. What the heck is going to employ everyone once the businesses are all buldozed?!? The craziest plan is to raze "Magic Mountain (6 flags)" to make townhomes, condos, and courtyard homes... Absolutely insane.

Now let me talk about how this could be made a positive. I *love* the concept of transit centers and integrated housing. The best example I've experienced directly was in Saltzburg Germany. There, each 'suburb village' was built along very sensible plan. It was all circular:
1) In the center a bus stop (or train+bus stop in 10% of the villages)
2) Around the bus stop, a couple of small stores (usually, a grocery +coffee/pastry, maybe a dry cleaner, and a bar/restaurant).
3) Above the shops were apartments.
4) The circle around the apartments were townhomes (and a few additional apartments).
5. The next circle out were duplexes and small homes.
6. The next circle were larger homes that had enough land for small gardens.
7. The last circle was garden plots and often an old historic farm building (often moved).

Due to the housing being tightly packed, you then had about 150 meters (say 500 feet) of forest (with a nice jogging/biking path) and then the next village. And yes, on one edge of the village you would have a park (with the "football" field) shared between 2 or 3 villages.

But sigh... urban planning seems to be beyond LA... :(

With this San Pedro building, putting some business makes more sense to me than pure condos... But heck, if I "ruled" LA, we would actually have a subway system. To the airports even! Alas, that's nothing but a dream.

Neil

10:12 AM, August 09, 2006  
Blogger bearmaster said...

Good points Neil,

Well I'm glad the building implosion is not a sign of our economic trade capability going down the tubes! The truth is our strength in trade disappeared long ago.

This bit about razing businesses to build condos is looking like greed run amock. Businesses are not particularly being attracted to San Pedro - or California for that matter. We know they are leaving the state, in fact, due to housing costs among other factors.

However, in my bearishness I am not assuming that municipalities and states will have any money for transit construction funds. Any bonds they issue for that purpose may very likely be defaulted on. Municipal fortunes (and budgets) will be turned upside down overnight.

But I love mass transit too - I've been riding a bus to and from my west LA job for nearly six years, and prefer it and metro rail to driving.

I am definitely not a fan of sardine-can housing though. Too many rude noisy inconsiderate neighbors. Too much traffic pouring out onto what was once a navigable street. Been there done that - and that was just a 9 unit condo complex, and it was not even sardine-can housing, just dense housing. I have not ruled out a cardbox box hidden in some bushes somewhere, if it were to come to that!

Saltzburg sounds charming. From the description of the housing, it doesn't sound like the Germans live with wall-sized entertainment centers, large outdoor grilling/entertainment sets, and so forth. They aren't so car dependent. Americans are the most materialistic people on the planet. Oh well, the bear will deliver some wisdom in that regard with a swipe of his mighty paw.

I love the idea of green areas. Maybe you ought to check out Schizomania if you haven't read it. Saltzburg sounds a bit like what is proposed in it.

Whenever I visit a booming area that's undergoing heavy construction (e.g., Charlotte, NC), I just want to scream - don't cut down all the trees and turn this place into another LA!

10:48 AM, August 09, 2006  

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