Did LACMA Bully Metro Into Changing Where the Entrance to the Westside Subway's Fairfax Stop Will Be?
As the Westside Subway Extension project lumbers ahead at its own draggy pace (hi, Beverly Hills!), it seems that Metro may have already gone against their own recommendations when it comes to where the portal to the Wilshire/Fairfax stop will be, and some say it's because the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA) did some "arm-twisting."
The Final Environmental Impact Review (FEIR) went to the Metro board earlier this month, with one key change, as The Source points out:
There was one change to the staff recommendations for the project with staff now saying that the station entrance for the Fairfax station should be at Wilshire and Orange Grove, which is directly across Wilshire from the Los Angeles County Museum of Art. Staff had originally proposed an entrance on the northwest corner of Wilshire and Fairfax but noted that increased attendance at the museum plus the commitment of LACMA to raise money for a second portal on the north side of Wilshire made that entrance more desireable (sic).
So was it the money that did the talking?
The stop entrance, as originally decided by Metro, was to be next to the familiar Johnie's Coffee Shop, with Metro having already rejected the idea of an entrance at Orange Grove because it was too far from the primary intersection of Wilshire and Fairfax.
A neighborhood group, The Miracle Mile Residential Association (MMRA), thinks the museum pushed a little too hard, and for self-interested reasons: "LACMA’s intense behind the scenes campaign to achieve their goal succeeded in forcing Metro is to ignore its own FEIR," they note in an emailed release. And it all comes down to real estate, says the MMRA:
LACMA owns property at Wilshire and Ogden that they would like to redevelop. LACMA and Sieroty Real Estate Company own over 60 percent of the parcels between Orange Grove and Ogden - it is their plan for Metro to use its authority and subway funding to take the entire block for as both a portal location and construction staging site and then partner with LACMA and Sieroty to create a high-density mixed-used project. Having a subway portal at this location would enhance the value of this new development.
After the revised FEIR went to the board, concerns were raised about the Orange Grove portals' "distance from major bus routes on Fairfax" being "a burden to the elderly and the disabled."
MMRA board member Ken Hixon said: “LACMA clearly won’t let Metro, the FEIR, Mid City West Community Council, the residents of the Miracle Mile, or the needs of the elderly and the disabled stand in their way of their real estate investment.”
According to LACMA's Director of Communications Miranda Carroll, the fight isn't over yet. Carroll told Curbed LA: "As you know, discussions are ongoing and no final decisions have been made one way or another."