2017 was a difficult year for … many reasons, but Los Angeles emerged surprisingly resilient.
In hindsight there were many highlights, from radical new developments shaking up the skyline, to pragmatic solutions for making housing more affordable, to the many everyday reasons we love our city unconditionally. Plus the funds from a handful of major ballot initiatives started to shape the city, making LA more equitable and accessible to all.
But doesn’t it seem like all these Great New Things are taking forever to happen? Sure, we got the Olympics. But that’s still a decade away. Metro made major headway on the Purple Line, but we won’t be riding it until at least 2026. What can we look forward to next week, next month, next summer? Here are some of the LA moments that will make our 2018.
1. Figueroa gets a human-friendly makeover. Almost a decade in the making, 2018 will see the completion of a massive overhaul of one of the city’s busiest roadways. Stretching from Martin Luther King, Jr. Boulevard north to Seventh Street, past USC and Staples Center, LA’s first complete streets project will deliver a bus-only lane with revamped platforms and shelters, protected bike paths, and extra-wide sidewalks with landscaping designed for sitting and strolling.
A similar makeover will add protected bike paths and other safety improvements to Main and Spring Streets. Let’s hope these projects will illustrate how desperately needed such transformations are across the city.
2. The NoMad Hotel puts down LA roots. While 2018 will see several of Downtown’s architectural treasures restored—there’s the Julia Morgan-designed Herald Examiner building and, hey, what about that Batchelder chocolate shop?—this one’s an exceptional beauty. The folks behind the NoMad Hotel in New York City have been busy restoring the stunning Bank of Italy building to its original 1920s splendor. The hotel is accepting reservations starting January 20, when you’ll be able to patronize several bars and restaurants, including one at the rooftop pool.
3. The way we plan our neighborhoods will change. The failed anti-development Measure S was right about one thing: LA’s community plans are woefully archaic. This year, the Los Angeles City Council voted to revise the plans every six years and the planning department continued working on fixing our outdated zoning code.
Specific plans to guide development across a huge chunk of central LA—including Downtown, South LA, Boyle Heights, and Hollywood—will be either up for approval or implemented in 2018; now’s the time to get involved, give your input, and help the city adapt for the future.
4. The epic Disney Hall-to-Hollywood Bowl CicLAvia. To celebrate the 100th anniversary of the Los Angeles Philharmonic, the open-streets event will morph into a live music festival, with performances along a route stretching from Grand to Highland. It will culminate with a free Hollywood Bowl concert at dusk. Mark your calendars, it’s Sunday, September 30.
5. Soccer’s coming home to Los Angeles. Just in time for the 2018 season, the Gensler-designed Banc of California Stadium will open as the home of the Los Angeles Football Club. In addition to hosting soccer matches, the complex will bring shops and much-needed dining options to the neighborhood.
The stadium is the first of several big changes for Exposition Park, which is being resculpted for the 2028 Olympics, the Natural History Museum makeover, a long-term solution for housing the space shuttle Endeavour, and the arrival of the George Lucas Museum of Narrative Art (which will break ground in 2018 as well).
6. The city’s most eagerly anticipated transit-adjacent dining opening. For a half-century the interiors of the Fred Harvey Room at Union Station have only been to accessible to lucky wedding guests or fans of Fiona Apple music videos. Well, press your nose against the glass facade proclaiming “Restaurant” no more: In 2018, the meticulously restored former restaurant chain, buffed of decades of cigarette soot, will reopen as a gastropub from Cedd Moses’ 213 Entertainment, the firm behind other time-capsule spaces at Cole’s and Seven Grand.
7. A chance to shape the river’s next big development. Although a long-term plan for the G2 parcel of the LA River, also known as Taylor Yard, is still a few years off, the Bureau of Engineering is exploring short-term open space solutions for the 41-acre former maintenance yard. Some of the ideas, like bike paths and kayak landings, could be activated within the next year. Sign up for tours and community meetings in January to give your input.
8. The region’s busiest rail line will get faster. As part of a bigger program to improve the Blue Line, signal prioritization in downtown Long Beach as well as fixes to a tricky alignment on Washington Boulevard will guarantee smoother commutes for riders—shaving about 10 minutes off the trip from Long Beach to DTLA by the middle of 2018. Now, Metro needs to do the same for the Expo Line.
9. The Dodgers will probably go all the way. No, we haven’t gotten over that Game 7 yet either, but the truth is that the Dodgers have never been in a better position to seize the world championship. After a record-breaking season, the winning roster returns virtually intact and has the civic support to pick up some serious momentum. Check out our guide to Dodger Stadium and head to the ballpark early and often to cheer on our boys in blue.
10. We get another truly great place to watch movies. Sure, we’re spoiled when it comes to fine theaters, but the eagerly anticipated new outpost for the Austin-based Alamo Drafthouse is a true coup for our cinephile city. With 12 screens—all serving a full menu and boozy beverages—the theater will anchor the fledgling development The Bloc, creating another transit-accessible gathering space for Downtown.
11. The Beverly Center finally will be cool. The city has been besieged with food hall fever, with the 2017 openings of Eataly,Corporation, and Proud Bird. As part of a $500 million makeover, the Beverly Center’s new owners have peeled off the top of the mall for a fancy rooftop food court curated by chef Michael Mina. That’s expected by holiday 2018.
But that’s not all: Edin Hall will open right down the street, Platform 35 in Koreatown, The Apiary in Chinatown, an as-yet-unnamed project for Culver City, and two food halls in Miracle Mile, one of which would be in a landmarked Firestone garage. And don’t forget changes in store for the always-evolving Grand Central Market.
12. Getting a handle on the housing crisis. While the city took several major policy steps in 2017 to make housing more affordable, 2018 will be the year to build, build, build. The first Measure HHH-funded development just broke ground in East Hollywood as did the first high-rise housing in Skid Row.
Some projects will happen fast: New shipping container housing proposed for Westlake will be finished in six months,while an ADU pilot project will allow homeowners to quickly add appropriate density to neighborhoods. Paired with new legislation at the state level, these are the projects needed to start helping people find homes across the city. The only problem on the horizon is making sure neighbors don’t block them.
13. More vehicle-sharing options. After a pilot program launched last year in Westlake, the city-managed electric carsharing program is expanding to several more neighborhoods. The GM-sponsored Maven is also adding more hubs for its fuel-efficient vehicle-sharing fleet. LADOT is sponsoring a microtransit pilot to help get commuters to rail lines. This could be the best year ever for shedding your car—and a good way to help combat climate change.
14. Seeing if our mayor runs for president. After being exceedingly coy about his golden-child status among Democratic leadership and a random visit to the important primary state of New Hampshire, Mayor Eric Garcetti finally admitted (in Spanish) that he’s “thinking” about a 2020 presidential run.
Either way it’s a win, right? A campaign will put LA in the national spotlight like never before, and maybe Garcetti will be so eager to bolster his resume that he’ll get to work on a marquee issue—like solving the worst homelessness crisis in the nation.
15. Better access for open space. In 2017, a popular trailhead was closed in Griffith Park, making it a lot harder to get to the Hollywood Sign. While we hope the city reverses that decision—and provides more car-free options in the park—there are other small victories.
A walking path along the Silver Lake Reservoir’s south bank will open as a concession to those who might have enjoyed a true public space in the decommissioned water source. It’s a tiny step forward that will hopefully lead to more parkland—here and elsewhere.
16. Insecure is coming back for another season. Shows are doing a better job about portraying LA as an actual place, but no one does it better than HBO’s Insecure. It highlights South LA landmarks and the places where real people live and hang out—not the stereotypical LA destinations we often see portrayed in film and TV.
18. Target finally opens in East Hollywood. Okay, this isn’t confirmed at all. But let’s make the saddest example of neighborhoods battling development turn the decrepit, blighted, dangerous husk on the landscape into a triumph of smart density for the city.
What did we miss? What’s got you excited for 2018? Tell us in the comments.