A new development designed to bring more neighborhood-serving businesses to the Wilshire Vista District is under construction at the corner of Pico and Hauser Boulevards.
The project was originally named the “Wilshire Vista Plaza”, but a new name is now being considered by the owner, Georges Amran. It will include 14,000 square feet of new retail and commercial space. According to City Councilmember Herb Wesson, 10th District, the project will have a significant impact on the surrounding neighborhood.
“This project is going to help revitalize the Pico corridor,” Wesson said. “Making this project a reality in this difficult economy has not been easy. But with the community’s strong support, we’ve been able to accomplish something really important.”
Ed Johnson, deputy to Wesson, said construction began in May and should be completed next April. Johnson added that the project had been under consideration for several years, but the owner had difficulty in arranging for a loan. The project was eventually financed through a loan from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development and the Los Angeles Community Redevelopment Department. It will replace an auto body shop previously at the site. Johnson said no tenants have been selected, but it is anticipated that the project would include a Starbucks or Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf, as well as a bank and small, neighborhood-serving shops.
“They anticipate it will create three to four hundred construction jobs over the course of the project, and as many a sixty-five permanent jobs once it is completed,” Johnson said. “We are replacing one of the auto body shops that are located in the area, and it provides an example of how we can improve the look of the area and increase the quality of retail.”
Johnson added that Wesson’s staff worked extensively with the developer to get the project started, as did the Pico Neighborhood Council. Claudia Bayard, co-chair of the Pico Neighborhood Council, said people in the community are very excited about the development.
“Originally, we started trying to get this project off the ground five years ago, and have been working with the owner to support him in opening this,” Bayard said. “I have been in this area for forty-two years, and this is a project on Pico Boulevard that will give the stakeholders an opportunity to walk from one café to another, and then to a retail store. This is something that has been needed for a long time.”
Mary Ann Yurkonis, also co-chair of the Pico Neighborhood Council, added that she hopes the development will serve as a catalyst for other projects.
“I think the long-term goal is to create an environment where people can shop on Pico in a more retail-oriented environment, and we see this as a positive first step,” Yurkonis said. “We are interested in the long-term revitalization of the area, and over the last ten years, Pico has undergone a lot of revitalization. There is more retail, more restaurants and more shops, and those are the kind of neighborhood-friendly businesses we are trying to encourage.”
Johnson said Wesson shares the council’s vision for the area’s future, and he will continue to work on ways to revitalize the community.
“Councilmember Wesson’s goal is to jumpstart that area and encourage more development,” Johnson added. “It’s been a couple of years, but it is finally coming together.”
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