Thai Town, located along a six-block stretch of Hollywood Boulevard between Western and Normandie avenues, has seen many improvements since it was officially designated in 1999.
The boulevard is dotted with thriving Thai restaurants and businesses. The Thai Community Development Center has planted trees, installed decorative statues and brought a weekly farmers market to the plaza of the Metro Red Line subway station at Hollywood Boulevard and Western Avenue.
Now, the Thai CDC is poised to take Thai Town to the next level, said executive director Chanchanit Martorell. On Saturday, Sept. 23, from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m., the Thai CDC will host a pop-up event demonstrating improvements that could be implemented in the area. They include new crosswalks with decorative Thai patterns at the intersections of Hollywood Boulevard and Serrano Avenue and Hollywood and Hobart boulevards. Other upgrades could include a new mural and spaces for more Thai cultural offerings such as music and art.
“We would like to engage the community to show them the possibilities for Thai Town,” Martorell said. “For the pop-up, we will be doing some enhancements to calm traffic and activate dead space and encourage more pedestrian activity.”
During the past year, the Thai CDC conducted research on potential improvements using a $10,000 grant from Mayor Eric Garcetti’s Great Streets Challenge initiative. The research included an informal traffic study to determine the number of people who cross the intersections being considered for improvements, as well as inquiries about what residents and visitors would like to see improved in Thai Town. Martorell said many people indicated they don’t feel safe crossing Hollywood Boulevard without traffic signals. Others said they would like to have more cultural amenities.
“[We conducted] community asset mapping of the types of amenities we have and what we are lacking,” Martorell said. “That way, we can share the data with businesses and with the city as well to better understand what is possible.”
The pop-up event will be held at the Thailand Plaza, a building with a market, restaurants and other businesses fronting Hollywood Boulevard. Martorell said Thailand Plaza at 5321 Hollywood Blvd. is the symbolic center of Thai Town. Different activities will be held in the plaza’s stalls. Four stalls will be covered with a mural that could be replicated in Thai Town. The other spaces will feature Thai desserts, a painting demonstration, crafts sponsored by the Tourism Authority of Thailand, a massage demonstration, Thai classical music, health screenings and a photo booth.
One stall will be designated as a Los Angeles Police Department substation, something Martorell said many people would like to see permanently in the area. The owner of the Thailand Plaza has offered to donate free space for a police substation, she said.
Parking spaces in front of the Thailand Plaza will also be converted into mini-parks during the event, offering space for people to sit and relax.
“Our overall goal is to get feedback to see if folks will support these enhancements,” Martorell added. “If so, we can proceed to apply for a build-out grant.
Councilman Mitch O’Farrell, 13th District, said he is interested in hearing ideas the community has for the area.
“Thai Town has a thriving restaurant scene that attracts Angelenos from all over the city. I want to make every street in the 13th District more vibrant and safer for everyone,” O’Farrell said. “I recently funded the Hollywood-Western Streetscape Project in East Hollywood that will have a lasting, permanent effect for all who live or visit along this historic corridor.”
Martorell said the improvements may cost $25,000 to $50,000, and a funding source has not been identified. But that is not deterring the Thai CDC, which has transformed the area into the center of the Thai community in Los Angeles.
“We hope people will come out and enjoy the enhancements,” Martorell added. “We hope they will check out Thai Town and enjoy the cultural offerings.”
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