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Utility relocation for the upcoming Regional Connector has caused more than a few Downtown traffic snarls in the past year.  With a funding agreement in place, the $1.4 billion project is now set to make its presence felt above ground.  Earlier this week, Metro erected protective fencing around the future site of Little Tokyo Station, which will soon be cleared in preparation for subway construction.  By the end of the decade, the 1.9 mile tunnel will eliminate one of the most glaring deficiencies in the Metro Rail network, unifying the Expo, Blue and Gold Lines.

Located across the street from the Japanese American National Museum, the property is currently developed with surface parking and low-rise commercial buildings.  One of those structures, located at the corner of 1st and Alameda Streets, was previously home to the Atomic Café, a "bastion of Los Angeles' '70s-era punk scene."  Following the intercession of the LA Conservancy, Metro unsuccessfully attempted to preserve the 19th-century building, placing it on the market for just $1.  However, with no buyers willing to absorb the unavoidable relocation costs, the Atomic Café will instead be relegated to memory lane.

In light of the Regional Connector, neighborhood stakeholders envision a more robust Little Tokyo centered around the new subway station.  Dramatic plans developed by the Little Tokyo Service Center (LTSC) and Little Tokyo Community Council (LTCC) would transform the surrounding blocks into an environmentally-friendly "Cultural EcoDistrict."  Current parking lots along Alameda Street would make way for mixed-use developments, bringing new affordable housing units, cultural facilities, ground floor retail and creative office space to the neighborhood.  Additionally, LTSC and LTCC propose an "ambitious set of district-scaled green infrastructure," including stormwater collection planters, graywater filtration landscaping, and even a mini-solar electric grid.

 

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