As California’s redevelopment agencies face possible extinction, one notable group has thrown its hat into the ring. The LA Conservancy has announced that it will give its annual President’s Award to the Community Redevelopment Agency of Los Angeles (CRA/LA) for “Its commitment to reusing historic structures—and promoting historic preservation” in its redevelopment plans. “We thought it was a timely way to recognize what they’ve been doing and their role in trying to foster strategic investments across the city,” said Adrian Scott Fine, the Conservancy’s Director of Advocacy, who pointed to the agency’s help with, financing, surveys, and in some cases purchase of historic buildings to attract investment in historic conservation.
Fine added that while redevelopment agencies have not always had a great relationship with preservation (think Bunker Hill), the Conservancy is against efforts to abolish all state CRA’s. “It’s an essential function for cities to have the ability of a redevelopment agency to encourage, facilitate, and make projects happen that otherwise wouldn’t,” he said. Recent CRA-supported preservation projects include the Hollywood Palladium, the Downtown Women’s Center, and the still-pending Westlake Theater. The Conservancy’s awards will be handed out at LA’s Millenium Biltmore on May 12. The California Assembly missed eliminating state CRA’s by one vote on March 16, but the issue will resurface when the state works to approve its budget later this Spring.