$5M ‘Upgrade’ Proposed for Village Business District

By John Harlow | Editor-in-Chief

Palisades Pride, a group of local entrepreneurs and civic-minded volunteers that has “beautified” the Village business district for 35 years, is taking on what might be its mightiest challenge yet: to overhaul the entire district to “reflect” the forthcoming Caruso development.

At a low-key meeting at the Pacific Palisades Chamber of Commerce offices last week, engineers brought on board by Caruso laid out a series of options for Pride members.

The meeting was also attended by interested parties such as Marge Gold, board member of the Palisades Village Green pocket park on Sunset.

“This is a major opportunity, but areas next to past Caruso projects such as Fairfax and Glendale have flourished so we want to take advantage of it,” said Realtor and social activist Bruce Schwartz last week.

“Upgrading dangerous sidewalks and so on could cost $4 million or $5 million, we don’t know yet, but there are family foundations around here that could help out.”

One proposal is to “refresh” Village sidewalks with “ribbons” of brick to reflect the brick sidewalks being planned by Caruso along the north side of Sunset.

Engineers also suggested a list of trees that could be common both to the Palisades Village project when it opens next summer and the surrounding area. They will not include ficus.

The Caruso-recommended engineers have successfully revamped urban areas in cities such as Seattle, but emphasized during their presentation that the Palisades is a unique place at a unique time—there will be challenges stemming from the opening of the Caruso site, but Pride could turn such change to the town’s advantage.

Pride is expected to have another meeting early in the New Year to consider which ideas appeal to the board, under the presidency of Schwartz, in which order they could be carried out and—perhaps most importantly—how they could raise around $5 million to bring The Village up to 21st century standards.

Caruso is supplying vital expertise, but not money.

Pride tends to focus on “old school” beautification projects, such as bringing in “antique-style” lampposts festooned with flower baskets.

Yet younger members say there are other priorities in upgrading a modern business district, such as reliable power supply from an overstretched grid and often-patchy WiFi service, which are tougher to deal with but also worthy of attention.

Pride members will consider the architectural renderings over the holidays and meet again in the New Year.

Public consultation is expected during 2018. “It will be a transparent process and everyone will be involved,” promised the Pride president.