K-town is on the upswing. One of the primary factors cited for the impressive growth of Koreatown is the area’s diligent use energy. While researching the history of the neighborhood, the press of the past few years has been glowing as development increases and foreign direct investment continues to pour in from Korea and even Japan.
Forbes labeled it as one of America’s most fuel-efficient neighborhoods in 2008. For those unfamiliar with this part of the city, it is a relatively small in geographical area (there are differences of opinion on the exact boundaries, but it is a high profile part of the Mid-Wilshire District), but large in population density. 340,000 people live in under a 5 square mile area of Koreatown, a stark contrast to the sprawl that plagues most of the county. It is well-known for amazing Korean restaurants and karaoke bars, but is now getting a reputation as a sound place to invest and do business.
Such energy efficiency and carefully constructed planning is an anomaly in Los Angeles. Why is Koreatown’s energy efficiency so much better? The primary reason is the fact that mainly Koreans, not Americans, are not the ones implementing the community’s development strategy and are guiding the area along a more Asian style of urban planning. This manner of development is much more in tune with the future energy climate in America, where cheap and abundant power is no longer available. This sensible planning is bringing about fine results.
Seoul is a major investor in Koreatown and is reshaping the neighborhood along a path of development similar to what they are doing at home. This is a good thing not only for Koreatown, but for the whole of the city. Factors like public transportation, nearby access to good and services and population density are overlooked or ignored by American developers. With a display of successful development going hand in hand with energy frugality, those in charge of developing other parts of the city have an example to latch on to.
Wilshire Boulevard has a major opportunity to be a pillar of growth for Los Angeles in the coming years. The regeneration of Koreatown bodes well for this major artery of LA and momentum will increase if there is further rejuvenation of the Miracle Mile, and most importantly construction of the Subway to the Sea.
The proposed subway underneath Wilshire Blvd. from Downtown to Santa Monica would add even more transportation options to Koreatown's already impressive array of choices. It now enjoys access to the red and purple Metro lines and plus a high density of stops to a good local bus network (including Rapids) which give the neighborhood the lowest transportation costs in the county.
There is a natural inclination for people (both locals and visitors) to think of Los Angeles in terms of the boulevards of Hollywood, Sunset, Santa Monica and Melrose. As its comeback is in full swing, Wilshire Blvd. should be back on the pop radar with Koreatown as one of its main attractions. Tourists and urban planners should visit Koreatown. They would both love it.
[photo by hubbuzz.com @ flickr]