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Downtown L.A. sees economic, popular growth

February 17, 2011 12:00:00 AM PST
Is downtown Los Angeles coming back? Hotels and condos are filling up, major sports and entertainment events are bringing an influx of money, and there's a proposal for a downtown football stadium.

There's lots of activity downtown with preparations being made for the NBA All-Star Weekend. The events are part of a revival of sorts for the downtown area of L.A.

If a football team comes along with it, an NFL stadium is planned for the property adjacent to the Staples Center. This week, the first owners closed on condominiums in a 54-story condo tower. It's been there for more than a year and a half. Condos go for $850,000 to $9.3 million.

A decade ago, fewer than 10,000 full-time residents lived downtown. There are more than 50,000 people currently.

"We expect to see more businesses moving down because as the center of the city has more and more life, and because rents and property values are slightly lower than they are, say on the Westside, it's a huge value for the money," said Carol Schatz, president of the Central City Assoc.

There's a new report from the L.A. County Economic Development Corp. saying the upturn in the economy is finally here.

As the corporation's chief economist, Nancy Sidhu, points out, it's a slow recovery.

"For 2011, it looks like we're finally going to be able to report an increase -- a small increase -- in the number of jobs being created. Right now I'm estimating about 24,000, which is not a lot," said Sidhu. "But it's a start."

If there's a new NFL stadium with 78,000 seats, it could be an anchor for more economic revival in the downtown area.

The mayor's NFL blue-ribbon commission held its first meeting Thursday. It was brief on the plans.

"This would create a center to not only bring the NFL, but for Final Fours or other events, and has great potential to recreate our convention business," said L.A. First Deputy Mayor Austin Beutner.

They still have to crunch all the numbers and promises of no taxpayer dollars being used.

Los Angeles city and county unemployment figures are among the highest in the nation.

"L.A., it looks to me, will end up with at least four years in double digits," said Sidhu. "We'll be still in the 12s for L.A. County for 2011."

It's estimated that there will be an $85-million return for the city of Los Angeles from this weekend's NBA All-Star Game.