FROM LARCHMONT CHRONICLE:
Local stakeholders last month continued their dialogue over the future of Larchmont Boulevard.
As reported in April, questions have been raised over recent weeks as to whether parking spaces might be permanently replaced with outdoor restaurant dining now that pandemic-related restrictions are ending.
That also propelled discussion about perennial Larchmont topics like the existing limitations on certain types of businesses such as restaurants. Further, with Larchmont Boulevard celebrating its centennial year in 2021, it seems to many residents to be a good time to reevaluate how local neighborhoods interact with, and envision the future of, the historic shopping district.
The Larchmont Boulevard Association (LBA) is spearheading the effort. It seeks an organized discussion through the committee it convened, headed by LBA board member Patty Lombard.
Of the group, Lombard tells the Chronicle that: “So far, we have a very small working group putting together a structure for an open, transparent community conversation on the current issues facing the street with professional assistance from Windsor Village resident and architect and urban planner John Kaliski, FAIA. Other members of the group are Heather Duffy Boylston with the Larchmont Village Business Improvement District and Gary Gilbert, representing the Windsor Square Association.
“Our working name is ‘Larchmont 2021’ and our focus is to facilitate the retail stability of the street and enhance Larchmont’s character.”
The working group’s approach is still evolving: “But we’d like to conduct a series of learning and listening sessions with experts on local retail streets and placemaking,” she explains.
“Once we fill in the details of the sessions, we will engage a larger working group of stakeholders representing the various other groups in the neighborhood, including the Hancock Park Homeowners Association, the Larchmont Village Neighborhood Association and others who have volunteered to help, to get their ideas as well. Once we have consensus on conducting the conversation, we hope to get the first session underway in June, either virtually, or in-person, or a hybrid, depending on the pandemic restrictions,” said Lombard.
“In a city whose unofficial motto is 72 and sunny, let’s make al fresco dining permanent,” said Mayor Eric Garcetti on April 20, proposing during his 2021 State of the City address an allocation of nearly $2 million in grants for restaurants in low-income neighborhoods to set up permanent parklets for outdoor dining. Will that include Larchmont?
The debate about the future of Larchmont also continued on the social media site Nextdoor as residents shared their thoughts about the Larchmont Chronicle’s April article: “I like the outdoor dining idea, it’s so much better than the way it used to be with tables scattered all over the place, sometimes making the Blvd. an obstacle course to walk down. Be great to make Larchmont more user friendly,” said Keith Johnson. “I miss the hardware store! It was so sweet. Small, but somehow he had everything I needed. Unfortunately the rents have skyrocketed, and I am concerned we’ll lose the small business owners/shops,” said Lisa Brause.
“I love having the outdoor dining. I think it will ultimately bring the Larchmont community together, especially for those of us who are lucky enough to live in the neighborhood. The businesses I most wish were on Larchmont: a small hardware store and a small food market,” wrote C. Pierson on the Chronicle website.
Speaking of improvements on Larchmont Boulevard, last month the longtime boarded-up Mirzrahi family-owned building at 227 N. Larchmont Blvd. was unveiled, freshly remodeled, with a glass and steel façade, and new for-lease signs posted. The late Albert Mizrahi purchased the building, which previously was the site of Prudential Real Estate, in 2007. The following year, Mizrahi told the “Los Angeles Business Journal” that he had rented the space to Wachovia Corp. for a bank branch to open in the fall of 2008. However, due to the sub-prime mortgage crisis that year, Wachovia was acquired by Wells Fargo, putting Mizrahi’s lease in dispute. The building was left vacant and boarded-up until now, more than a decade later.
WRITTEN BY BILLY TAYLOR FOR THE LARCHMONT CHRONICLE