Thursday, October 14, 2010

Two scenarios for Century City in 2050

Subways are very expensive to build. Tunneling costs around $250 million per mile and stations cost around $200 million a piece. However, subways dramatically increase accessibility (and land value) within a quarter mile of stations.  Putting the station next to underutilized land will create future development pressures.

What might happen if the Century City subway stop was located at Santa Monica and Avenue of the Stars instead of the current center of Century City at Constellation and Avenue of the Stars?

The Los Angeles Country Club, to the north of Santa Monica Blvd, has 36 holes.  The holes are split into a North Course (north of Wilshire) and a South Course (between Wilshire and Santa Monica).  The LACC could reconfigure the South Course to 9 holes and sell the roughly 50 acres that will be within a quarter mile  of the Subway Station for development.

Last week the old 8-acre Robinsons May property next to the site sold for $148.3 million, or about $18.5 million per acre.  (incidentally, back in 2007, it sold for $500 million, or $62.5 million per acre).  With a subway station, a healthier real estate market, and City of Los Angeles Zoning policies, and inflation the site could probably once again sell for $60 million per acre in 2020 after the subway opens.  The Country Club (owned by its members) would get $3 billion , a pretty healthy sum considering 27 of the 36 holes will still be open for play.

Here's what Century City looks like today:

Here's what Century City might look like in 2050 with the Purple line on Santa Monica Blvd and half of the South Course developed.

Another Century City grows north of Santa Monica

With the station at Constellation and Avenue of the Stars, the golf course is more than a quarter mile away and won't have the same development pressures.  Here's what Century City might look like in that case:

Development pressures result in growth near the station.

The point is that in 40 years, the Metro Westside Extension Purple Line stop will be in the heart of Century City, regardless of whether it's built at Constellation or Santa Monica.  Those in Beverly Hills opposed to having tunnels under their homes today should consider the future effect of a second Century City with little or no roadway capacity increases.

I believe that the subway should be sited at Constellation and Avenue of the Stars.  The point of this post is to illustrate that placing the subway station will have consequences for the future of Century City.  Short-sighted and predominantly unfounded arguments that a subway should not be placed under homes will have long-term consequences that will likely increase traffic on residential streets in Beverly Hills.


Neel said...

You are assuming a big "what-if" analysis. Let's build it right the first time..which is Avenue of the Stars and Constellation.

Babs said...

The placement of the Century City station (and all stations) should be carefully done. Given the huge investment of resources necessary to build a subway, the final location of each station should address local concerns BUT those concerns should not take precedence over the need to create a subway that can serve the highest number of riders and contribute to a healthy public transit system. In the case of Century City, when one draws a primary service area circle around the two possible station locations, it is clear that the Constellation station will do a notably better job of serving more commuters and residents of the area. This cannot be lightly overlooked or silenced by the chorus of critics from nearby Beverly Hills where a hysteria campaign seems to have taken hold.

Have the Beverly Hills critics of the Constellation station taken the time to ride the subway in LA already in place, to explore areas where the subway goes underground? Why all the fear-mongering? Many people are signing petitions without knowledge and without taking the time to engage in constructive discussions about the pros and cons of the alternatives. "Not under MY high school...." Well, why not? Residents of Beverly Hills should want this subway to travel on the straightest pathways to create a fast and efficient transit choice for those who now drive through Beverly Hills to reach Century City, Westwood, UCLA, the VA, etc. The only way to improve traffic, reduce cut-through on residential streets and to improve the quality of local life on the streets is to create good public transit options. Without those, people will drive their cars, we will have ever-growing gridlock and, eventually, this will affect property values (as well as our ability to get to our homes, schools, and work). Of course, we all know that we are already making large compromises every day when we are forced to make appointments around expected traffic congestion, when we forgo Music Center tickets downtown on a weekday evening because it is just too difficult to get from here to there, etc. This subway is not only for people passing through BH and Century City, it is for those of us who live in and around the community. We need it to function well. We should not want to diminish its potential to solve traffic problems and congestion in our community.

The subway of today is not the subway some may remember in New York of your youth, or the Metro or TUBE from your vacations in Europe. It is a system built with new technology and new equipment and our City should benefit from those tools available to build a subway whose placement is determined based upon FACTS and not upon a campaign of fear. Following Santa Monica Blvd. adds critical time to the trip length that should be avoided. And, this does not even take into account any issues associated with Santa Monica Blvd.'s earthquake fault and the added cost of a longer route.

We can only speculate about future development of the LA Country Club land. It requires no speculation to know that the station in Century City should be placed on Constellation Ave.

Manuel A. said...

Great analysis. I am pretty sure that the country club members will not turn down 3 billion dollars or any other amount that starts with a B. Because that part of the golf course will become very attractive to future developers and may pay any price to get it.

nikk said...

what a waste of space that golf course is. What if it was a park or something else the entire community can enjoy. But no, all that land just so old people can hit silly balls around. there are 2 other courses in west LA alone go play golf there and stop wasting space!!