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LOS ANGELES-A group called Project Restore and three other organizations hope to link areas along First Street in downtown Los Angeles with a combination of a pedestrian walkway, retail development and other elements. The initial plan, dubbed “1st Street Now,” calls for an urban corridor filled with pedestrian activity along the two-mile stretch of First Street through the heart of the Civic Center and Little Tokyo, over the L.A. River, and onto Mariachi Plaza in Boyle Heights.In addition to Project Restore, which is headed by Ed Avila, its president, the plan is being backed by the Los Angeles Metropolitan Transit Authority, the Community Redevelopment Agency, and the Civic Center Public Partnership. The project’s leaders have named three Los Angeles-based firms to create designs for what they envision as a “walkable urban corridor.”The three firms are Rios Clementi Hale Studios, Suisman Urban Design and Campbell & Campbell. Rios Clementi Hale’s projects include pedestrian improvements for Grand Avenue, Suisman was responsible for the design of the Metro Rapid Project and Campbell & Campbell has designed landscapes at Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels as well as for the Los Angeles Central Library.Avila notes that business and residential neighborhoods on the east and west of downtown L.A. have been separated by freeways for many years but were once linked by surface rail. The MTA is in the process of rebuilding and reconnecting the neighborhoods via transit lines, which could eventually link to elements in the proposed project such as a jogging path, a retail promenade and community park.One part of the plan as envisioned would transform the property around the First Street bridge over the L.A. River into recreational and commercial space. The Bridge segment of the plan would includes the entire bridge and the real estate under it, from Vignes Street to Mission Street. The project planners note that retail under the bridge could be created like the markets have been developed under bridges in New York, Berlin and many cities around the world.

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