The plan to redevelop that portion of downtown's Grand Avenue nearly screeched to a halt in September, when a panel of city and county representatives overseeing the project rejected the design presented by developer Related Cos.
County Supervisor Gloria Molina criticized that proposal's "boxiness" and lack of appeal to pedestrians, and county Chief Executive William T Fujioka, who also sits on the Grand Avenue Authority, said he was "very, very disappointed" with it.
The authority gave Related a four-month extension to return with an acceptable design. In November, the company delivered a new plan created by the firm of architect
The new design is more open, with more connectivity for pedestrians coming from adjacent streets. It includes a terraced mix of retail space and restaurants flanked by two towers, one a four-star hotel and the other an apartment building -- with a public plaza opening onto Grand Avenue.
Several supervisors and Fujioka described the new design and the prospect of the project moving forward as "exciting."
"This is exactly what we need," Molina said in an interview. "It's what's going to invigorate the whole Grand Avenue. That was the whole idea."
Supervisor Zev Yaroslavsky praised Molina and others for "holding the line."
"For the first time," he said, "I think we see the light at the end of the tunnel, and I think we can safely say that we'll all live long enough to see it built."
The board's approval was a necessary step for the project to move forward. The plan then goes back to the Grand Avenue Authority for approval Wednesday, and the authority must approve a development agreement by Jan. 21.