August 30, 1989 - From the August, 1989 issue

LAX Northside: Design and Development Guidelines for New Business, Commercial Center

Patric B. Dawe, Director of Planning for A.C. Martin & Associates, meticulously describes a draft plan for LAX Northside, "a new busines community and commercial center" that will be built north of the Los Angeles International Airport. A bussiness park and a mixed-use urban center are the two commanding elements of the plan.

Albert C. Martin and Associates have developed a draft plan for LAX Northside, a new business community and commercial center which will be built on City of Los Angeles Department of Airport (DOA) property north of the north runway at Los Angeles International Airport. The 350 acre development will consist of a balanced mix of office and research park, recreation, hotel, restaurant, and airport-related land uses along Westchester Parkway, a new, landscaped arterial highway being built across the property. At the center of LAX Northside lies a redesigned, refurbished 18 hole public golf course.

The site extends nearly two and a half miles from the Westchester business district to Pershing Drive. Formerly a residential area, the property was acquired by the DOA as a buffer between the airport and residential neighborhoods which continue north of the project.

The property, which is not needed for airport operations, will be developed in a way which will be compatible with the adjoining neighborhoods, help restore vitality to the Westchester downtown business community and return the land to a productive use. The DOA conducted a series of public workshops and prepared market studies to determine the land uses which would be appropriate for this unique location. A tentative tract map, Zoning and Environmental Impact Report were approved for the site in 1984. At that time numerous Qualifying ("Q") conditions were applied as part of the approval process. One of the requirements was that the design plan and development guidelines be prepared.

The urban design and architectural standards will be used by developers in preparing development plans for the site, and will also be used by the Department of Airports in reviewing proposals for the site. All proposals for construction within airport property, which includes LAX Northside, must be approved by the Department of Airports.

The zoning adopted for the site in 1984 culminated a long process of community involvement. Public workshops had been conducted and well attended by neighboring residents and business people, in order to assure that the planning for the project reflected their concerns. Principal concerns of workshop participants included effective and attractive buffer systems between the development area and adjoining residential property, and a roadway system that would handle increased traffic load without intrusion into bordering residential neighborhoods.

To meet these concerns, the plan calls for a variety of buffer systems, including fencing, shrubbery, trees, ground cover, walls, earth berms and landscaped building setbacks. These buffers were incorporated into the "Q" conditions adopted as part of the zoning.

Other issues addressed in the "Q" conditions are land use, allowable density, height, parking, hours of delivery, noise, access restrictions, security, and Transportation Systems Management.

LAX Northside - Business Park

The Business Park will be a low-rise, suburban office and research park extending from Lincoln Boulevard west to Pershing Drive. The park will be anchored by a commercial center near Lincoln which will achieve a somewhat urban quality and will elsewhere consist of low-scale office and research buildings on the north side of Westchester parkway and airport-related services along the south side of Westchester Parkway.

Along both sides of Westchester Parkway, deep building setbacks will be used to increase the visual width of the roadway and will establish a linear ''park" which will line separate developments, and create the primary frontage for the buildings within the Business Park.

Site access along the road will be limited, and project entry points will become major design features along Westchester Parkway, incorporating graphic and landscape elements. On the south side of the street, wide setbacks at the site entries provide view corridors which allow visual connection between LAX Northside and the airport.

The Business Park will be a business and research park of relatively low density. Westchester Parkway will provide the frontage and identity for most of the buildings within the business park. Buildings along Westchester parkway will be set back from the right of way to create a band of open space which will act as a linear park. Within the Business Park buildings will be distributed evenly, and most of the uses will be low, two-story research buildings containing a mix of office and light industrial spaces, some of which will be oriented toward airport-related uses.

LAX Northside-Business Park will also contain a small commercial center designed to serve the needs of the business park. On sites totaling 170 acres, construction will approach approximately 2.4 million square feet of development.


Westchester Center

Westchester Center will be a mixed-use urban center, consisting of office buildings and hotels, with a limited amount of supporting services, retail and restaurants.

Westchester Center offers a special opportunity in urban design for several reasons: it will, along with the Westchester Downtown, be the major urban activity center in the area; it will be the location of the transit station which is designed to serve not only this project, but the Westchester Business District as well; the intersection of Westchester Parkway and La Tijera Boulevard will be a major traffic carrier with the potential of becoming a focal point of LAX Northside.

The site has high visibility from and views of the airport runways and terminal; the western end of the center fronts onto the redeveloped Westchester Golf Course; and, the proximity to the north runway requires mitigation of noise in public areas.

To reinforce their urban character, the buildings will have close relationships to each other and to the street. Pedestrian connections and the uses along them are important. Open spaces will be relatively small, enclosed or partially enclosed, and shielded from airport noise to the extent practicable. Westchester Center will have moderate densities, and may be built to the maximum heights allowed by the FAA.

Based on the number of trips which may be generated, Westchester Center is projected to include, on development sites totaling 69 acres, development of 2.1 million square feet.

The primary features of the urban design concept for Westchester Center are a tightly-scaled pedestrian environment, and an axis which provides visual and pedestrian connections between the various buildings in the center and ties this development with the existing Westchester downtown.

The axis will be formed as an extension of 89th Street. This axis will terminate in the golf course on the west, and be open-ended on the east, providing an opportunity for future connections with the Westchester Business District. This axis will act as an organizing element and may function in places as a driveway or as a strictly pedestrian walkway. It will visually link both sides of La Tijera; pedestrian crossing will need to take place above grade or at the intersections.


The zoning conditions for the site set a project-wide limit on density based on traffic generation. Project generated traffic will be limited to 7,000 project-related outbound daily trips in the p.m. peak hour, and 6,340 project-related inbound daily trips in the a.m. peak hour.

Based on traffic generation estimates used in the EIR, this limits development to around 4,500,000 s.f., or an average floor area ratio of 0.43 for the development parcels. Effective Transportation Systems Management measures will be required in order to limit traffic generation to the estimated volumes.

Actual trip generation will be monitored after 3,500,000 s.f. of development has occurred. Measured traffic generation will be used as the determination of how much development beyond that level will be permitted. If effective measures are implemented to limit peak hour traffic generation, then more than 4,500,000 may be permitted.

In addition to receiving DOA approval, and satisfying normal zoning and building department criteria, all projects on City property, which includes this site, must receive approval of the City or Los Angeles Cultural Affairs Commission.


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