For San Fernando Valley's Economic Centers, Post-Northridge Quake Recovery 25 Years in the Making
2019-01-17 | Daily News
A quarter-century later, several buildings that were damaged by the magnitude 6.7 temblor that rocked the region just before dawn on
But local officials say that while recovery in some
Meanwhile, such areas as
Here's a look at how some areas hit hard by the quake have fared over the years and what the future holds for each:
An effort to revitalize
The temblor's shaking damaged the historic
The Actors Alley Acting troupe, the company housed at performing arts center at
The quake damaged the ceiling, taking with it the art deco-style chandelier that was to have served as the centerpiece of the venue's rebirth.
The stage survived. It had been retrofitted for earthquakes about two years before, according to
"There was no roof over where the seats were," he said, "but over where the stage was, was perfect, more or less."
The former vaudeville and silent movie house had gone through many incarnations since it was built in 1926, including being operated as a burlesque venue during World War II, and then later as a movie theater.
Interest in the area grew in later years, and the theater was designated a historic landmark in 1993. Public officials saw the theater renovation project as a way to help spur on what was then a burgeoning theater scene in
Thus, there was a big push to get the
The theater eventually re-opened in 2000, six years after the earthquake to some fanfare about its role in growing the arts district. It also had the distinction of being the only theater venue in the
But when the theater re-opened,
"The front page of the L.A.
But the seeds of change were also present, including the North Hollywood Metro Red Line subway station that opened at the corner of Lankershim and Chandler boulevards the same year the theater re-opened its doors.
Soon, many of the buildings that had lined the streets were torn down, and new mixed-use apartment and commercial buildings took their place.
With those changes came more restaurants, art galleries, theaters, and coffee houses.
But the most apparent indicator that things had changed was that "rental prices have gone way up," increasing the stakes for businesses in the area, according to Irwin.
"You've got to be good," he said. "You can't have a bad business."
As for the El Portal, which continues to book a steady schedule of live music and theater shows, it can be a bit tough getting the newer, younger residents of the area to come to support the venue.
The season ticket holders tend to be older, while the "millennials" are less predictable, Forrest said. They have more of a habit of dropping in at the last minute to catch shows.
"We end up being kind of the historic relic in the neighborhood that hearkens back to that old time," he said.
Severely damaged by the big jolt, the 13-story
During the intervening years, the former office building has frequently been cited as an eyesore and symbol of the urban blight that has plagued the
City officials have made some attempts to revive the tower:
In more recent years, things have started to look like they might finally take a positive turn.
There were plans introduced in 2017 to build an open mall next to the building, but they were withdrawn a year later, according to city records.
Retrofitting work is underway to strengthen the building, according to Councilwoman
She said the challenges faced by
"To be honest, the biggest disaster in
Martinez said she recalls a time when
She believes the area might become that again. "
Also figuring prominently in
-- Recently approved plans for The ICON at Panorama, a mixed-use project with more than 600 residential units at the old
-- Efforts by a new owner of the
-- And a projected light rail line along
In the 1950s and 1960s, the
But by the 1980s, those sites were showing signs of age and decline. Competition from newer shopping centers nearby were drawing away customers.
The earthquake cut short attempts to revive the area, because it hit just a week before city officials were to consider redevelopment plans for
Krekorian said investors "were ready to move forward with a plan for redevelopment, and then the earthquake struck, and it just put the brakes on everything. In fact, they lost interest in investing in it because of the earthquake."
The earthquake prompted some of the stores to close permanently. And it led to a "downward spiral that would end up really affecting
Among the biggest and more symbolic losses for the community was the
The majority of the department store buildings on the
All that remained was the building that housed a
But recently, a mixed-use project at the
The years have not been kind to the
A redevelopment effort led by the city -- to be handled by developer JH Snyder -- was approved in 2009. But it ultimately fell through.
Meanwhile, vacancies were never filled after tenants left the
Complicating matters, Krekorian said, was the property's multiple owners, each of whom had different goals and interests.
But he said the push is still to assemble the various parcels under one identity.
"You don't get very many opportunities to identify a piece of property for development that big in such a strategic location as that," he said.
Krekorian spoke hopefully about the
"As soon as people see the success of that development," he said, "I'm sure they will be clamoring to get in on the action by investing in
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