Solair Power

I was wondering what was going on in the plaza at Wil/Tern this morning when I came off the Red Line to transfer to the Rapid bus west. There was a tent set up, filled with chairs, the sort of thing that looked ready to host some sort of ceremony or tent revival.

However, if there was a revival, it was purely of the real estate sort. CurbedLA posted this morning about the Solair Wilshire building, after catching an LA Times article on the development. And it’s the Times article that really got me excited:

    The 22-story tower is among more than 20 projects being built or planned by the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority with private developers. Valued at close to $2 billion, the projects are part of a national trend toward dense residential and commercial developments along major transit lines.

More on my thoughts on this trend after the cut.

Now, while I’m disappointed to hear that Solair Wilshire is going to be so highly priced (starting at $700,000), I am delighted to hear that this is part of a nationwide trend. Especially in L.A. There’s an awful lot of sustainability reasons to create denser housing on mass transit lines, hard science that goes beyond the debatable social consequences of life without a backyard. I’d rather see dense mixed-use on mass transit, than more sprawl off the major freeways, because it would mean lower water consumption and less environmental damage in a fragile, low-rain ecosystem. Don’t get me wrong – I like me my backyards. I grew up with a particularly nice one. I’d just rather live my full time in density and be able to get to wilderness quickly, than have wilderness eaten up by sprawl. I have seem much of the Pacific Northwest destroyed by sprawl and housing developments, in my lifetime alone, and that’s just following in L.A.’s footsteps.

But for now, this trend is just a few building. And one building that apparently required a presentation this morning, on its future site. I wish I’d had time to go ask questions, and if the Gold Line hadn’t been late getting into Union Station due to “technical difficulties”, I would have. But I was already late for work once this week due to the 134 turning into a parking lot on Monday, and I didn’t want to miss the bus, so I couldn’t stop to ask – is the presentation for the buyers? is it for the press? is it for the people of L.A. to tell them about this trend?

And as a side note, let me just say that getting to and from Pasadena to Beverly Hills sucks no matter how you do it. Either I get all twitchy-stressed and burn through $7 in gas driving for the hour and change, or I end up losing an hour and a half on mass transit, which can be shocking crowded on the 720 down Wilshire. I totally get the area code jokes in Swingers now: it isn’t so much the prestige, as the sheer annoyance of schlepping. Curse you, Henry Huntingdon, and your mass transit land scam generated sprawl! May mass transit developments, in a twist of century late irony, help to decrease the sprawl generated by real estate sales along Red Car lines. And may I have the sense to NOT fall into relationships more than one neighboring area code away (310-323-626) if it ever comes up in the future.