December 20, 2007 - From the Nov./Dec., 2007 issue

South Group Adds L.A.'s First High Rise in 20 Years; First LEED Gold Residential Building in State

The South Group has become a trendsetter in L.A. on two fronts: their new building, Elleven, is the first high-rise to be built in Downtown L.A. in 20 years as well as the state's first LEED Gold-rated residential building. To mark this momentous occasion for Downtown, TPR is pleased to present comments delivered by City Councilmember Jan Perry and Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa at the ceremony celebrating the building's LEED Certification.


Jan Perry

Jan Perry: Good afternoon, everybody. I'm happy to be here to celebrate this great milestone with Tom and Jim and everybody else in the company. Even the first time I met them, I was impressed with the way that they presented themselves, and I became even more impressed when we visited Portland and saw what they had done in the Pearl District, and how right, simple, and obvious it was. I guess we had to go somewhere else to get an idea of what we could do down here. It's okay to learn from other great cities and incorporate it right here, at home.

Now we have these leading-edge projects in Los Angeles, and many of the same business design elements that South Group has already successfully implemented in Portland. Portland is a very different place-there's a lot more moisture in the air, a lot more green, a lot more water, and a lot more of that is incorporated into the exterior of their building design. Down here, we're traditionally thought of as a car culture. So, South Group proposed something that was really, really different. Hal already spoke to you about the characteristics of why they're so different: the cuts in the sidewalk that are heavily landscaped, storm water filtration planters, and curb extensions built to increase visibility and to slow down traffic, making it easier for people to walk around.

As obvious as that might sound, this has never been done in Downtown Los Angeles. It's a vision that I've readily embraced, because I saw it as a higher standard for innovation and development, and I saw it as a way to support what we've been talking about for years and years and years: pedestrian activity and pedestrian lives. A very direct way to advance our efforts to encourage public transportation is to plant more green and to have it planted in such a way that it creates multiple uses and multiple opportunities.

Now, I have to admit that it has been a little bit difficult getting the city and certain departments to embrace that vision, but after a lot of discussion and a lot of outreach, we were all able to come together to change the way that we've dealt with greenscaping so it corresponds with a greener, better way of thinking. The result has led to a completely different way of looking at our streetscapes, to make them both environmentally friendly and community friendly. I also want to thank the City Department for being receptive, being open, being willing to learn, and being willing to try something new.

I have to say that I hope that the projects that come after yours copy you. I am going to encourage that. Thank you for your persistence, thinking big, sticking with your vision, and not giving up on us, because I think we can learn even if we have to be dragged kicking and screaming. It's worth the effort. You really are great leaders in promoting a greener standard for development in our urban floor, and I want to say that it has been a pleasure to work with you. I hope you keep going as long as you think you can keep going, as long as there's land on which to build and spots to green, because you've already marked your entrance into the very rare category of LEED-Gold certification for the Elleven project. Thank you, and you are going to get the recognition that you really deserve, not only for the company but also as individuals. I know that at times it wasn't easy, but for you to keep at it in a city as large and complex as this is an accomplishment in and of itself, so thank you very much.

Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa: Here we are, at the first high-rise built from scratch in Downtown in 20 years. This is an accomplishment. It's also the first LEED-certified Gold in the state of California for a residential building, so this is really a big thing. We want L.A. to be the greenest big city in the United States of America. I was actually reviewing some facts looking at where we are right now, and we're actually charting a course and taking a lead, make no mistake about it.

We understand that this is the city with the dirtiest air, with the worst traffic congestion, where we're stuck in traffic two-and-a-half weeks a year on average. We have a special responsibility to lead the way. I can tell you that, along with Mayor Bloomberg, I'll be keynoting the U.S. Conference of Mayors conference on Friday on climate change, and we're going to share with America and the world all the things that we're doing here in the city, and what you're doing here-this is just one of your three buildings that are going to be LEED-certified and that is very, very important.

When you look at buildings, whether they are residential or commercial buildings, they account for about 70 percent of total energy consumption. We think it's just cars, but it's buildings, too, and the people in those buildings. Encouraging energy efficient, green, LEED-certified buildings is very important. You might know that in the city of Los Angeles, every city building over 7,500 square feet is going to be LEED-certified. Why? Because we recognize that we have a responsibility to spur this change and move the city along in that effort. I want to acknowledge the Climate Commission, which is here today, because they played a very, very important role.

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What you're doing here at the South Group, we want to do citywide. We're going to do this in every part of the city. I'm very proud of the fact that, at our airport, the Tom Bradley Terminal is finally getting modernized and is going to be LEED-certified. Everything we do, we want to do green, not because it's the flavor of the month or the color of the month, but because we recognize that in a world that is, without question, changing before our eyes in terms of climate change and global warming, cities across the nation have a responsibility to address climate change....

...But make no mistake. Although we haven't ratified the Kyoto Accord, 800 mayors have signed onto the Kyoto Accord. I want to lead the way. Governor Schwarzenegger got on the front cover of Time magazine because California is going 20 percent renewable by the year 2017. L.A. is going 20 percent renewable by the year 2010. When I came here, we were at less than three percent. We're now at over eight percent. Next year, we'll be at ten percent. We'll be at 35 percent by the year 2020. Why? Because this city has the responsibility to do that.

What you are doing here, before the city has required it or incentivized it, is leading the way. You're out of Portland, a great, green city, a city that understands smart growth. Make no mistake: the developers here, the people that live Downtown here, the business people here, should know, this issue of elegant density, there are many people that are criticizing that. There are many demagogues in the city that say, "We should deal with traffic by just putting our heads in the sand and not addressing the growth in this region."

What we're saying is, we've got to plan for growth, we've got to be smart about growth. We've got to put, as you have here, density along transportation lines. We've got to focus our efforts with mixed use development, where you put office buildings, housing, and retail all together, so there are people shopping, working, and living in neighborhoods like they do in great cities all around the world. What you've done here, Tom and Jim, is actually lead an effort to revitalize, in a smart way, what Downtown looks like and what the city looks like, as well...

...We can green up the environment and create the dream economy here. What you're going to see Downtown is gardens on rooftops, you're going to see a greening with trees in every part of this city. You're going to see energy efficient buildings...

...So, what you're doing here is completely consonant with what people want and need living Downtown. When you have this kind of density, they want to have the amenities that come with it. They want to be able to shop and walk and work in the same place. Your idea of putting not just one building but three, creating a village, is what we have to have Downtown. Right now, we call Downtown "Downtown." Soon it will be South Park, and then within South Park it will be three or four little villages, the same as with every other part of the city. That's really where we want to go. I want to acknowledge you and your efforts to help make that happen.

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