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South Gate, a working class community in Los Angeles County's Gateway Cities district, has become the latest municipality looking to capitalize on the ever-expanding Metro Rail network.

Although South Gate is not scheduled to receive light rail service until the early 2040s, when the second phase of the West Santa Ana Branch would open between Downtown Los Angeles and the Green Line, the city is now laying the framework for a future transit-oriented district near the anticipated station.

Under the proposed Gateway District Specific Plan, a nearly 60-acre patch of industrial land at the intersection of Firestone Boulevard and Atlantic Avenue would be reimaginend with public space and three-to-seven-story mixed-use buildings.  Though no projects are imminent at this point in time, a market study carried out by AECOM found that the area could support upwards of 500 residential units, 230,000 square feet of office and light industrial space, and neighborhood-serving shops and restaurants.  In the long term, following the construction of the light rail station, the neighborhood could also see sufficient demand for hotel development.

To break up the sprawling site, the city is considering two alternative arrangements for new interior streets and plaza space that would integrate with future developments.

In the first scenario, a linear plaza would cut a diagonal swath through the site, creating numerous opportunities for shops and restaurants.  This alternative would leave larger parcels in place, allowing existing uses to remain in place before transitioning as market conditions shift.

The second option would trade a section of the linear plaza for a larger two-acre expanse abutting the light rail station.  However, this arrangement would limit the size of some development sites, thereby decreasing opportunities for street-fronting commercial space.

 The city is also pondering several options for the design of the station itself, putting forth alternatives in which it is built as a standalone structure, such as those seen on the Expo Line, or is instead incorporated into the design of a surrounding building, like several of Pasadena's Gold Line stations.

Additional changes are also being considered for the streetscape surrounding the station, with proposed redesigns that would incorporate bike lanes, new landscaping and expanded sidwalks.

The project is being planned in coordination with Eco-Rapid Transit - a joint powers authority tasked with developing a high-capacity transit system along a 40-mile corridor spanning between the Gateway Cities and the San Fernando Valley.

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