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John Yonai, Tierra West Advisors

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The NELA River Collaborative project builds upon the growing momentum of efforts already underway to transform the Los Angeles River into a "riverfront district" and to create a focal point of community revitalization. For more information visit
Tierra West Advisors Inc. is an economic and real estate advisory firm. As part of the collaborative, Tierra West will identify economic and implementation strategies to develop sustainability in the NELA river area:


My name is John Yonai and I'm with Tierra West Advisors, I'm one of the principals of the firm and founders and we've been in existence for about 30 years and we're located in Los Angeles. We're a small firm that provides real estate advisory services, and development support services to both public agencies and private developers.

Tierra West has been working with the collaborative and looking at the community to determine what opportunities it could suggest for consideration to develop the sustainability of the community through economic development processes. That includes the review of development, the infrastructure located in the community such as streets, walkways, cul de sacs, as well as financing tools that residents and the city and local government agencies might consider using to help supplement developments in the future.

We are creating an inventory, we've actually gone out through our support team and individually reviewed all of the various parcels within the NELA district and that actually encompasses over 8,000 parcels that we've individually reviewed to determine what the development is on that particular site and what opportunities may be in the area for future opportunity--whether it be residential, commercial, manufacturing or other uses in the various areas of the district.

Economic sustainable development is not just about the dollar and cents it requires participation from all of our team. They all have different disciplines that they bring to the table. Ours happens to be economic but we have the city planning department. We have KCET who brings us media experience and exposure. We have Occidental College which brings us the food concept. All these aspects come together and that creates an economically sustainable community. And that's what we're striving to develop with this riverfront district.

I think what we're seeing through our parcel review is that there's a large segment of single family residences that would like to retain their identity so we need to be careful about our planning. I think additional residential development is desired but it has to be presented in a moderate way. In terms of future opportunities, we look to industry and businesses to find additional reasons to be in the NELA Riverfront district to develop jobs and we think there's an opportunity for that to happen.

We're looking at other cities that have done successful developments around water including New York, Texas, and the Pittsburgh area and we see that those areas have gained success. It's taken time with a continued effort these developments will take place and will continue to flourish as we see here in the NELA riverfront district area.

I think without the community participation you don't have a successful project or program. Our collaboration to this point has been successful because we've gone out and we've met with the community, we're getting their input, and we'll continue to do so throughout the process. But without their support it's really to me not a very strong and meaningful effort because the community hasn't bought into it. And in order to make any project successful you have to have community participation, you have to have the city and the elected officials support. And combined you have a single voice that will bring and effectuate the changes that you want in that community.

At the end of the day we want to help those communities through increased education, we want to make sure that the quality of education is increased so that they are able to support the jobs that do become available. We also want to encourage companies that have higher paying jobs to locate in this area. It's through new jobs, education, and through quite honestly as we talked about earlier, residential ability, how do we get housing that's affordable to that community? And we need to do that possibly through larger complexes, higher density, but those are things that we need to study and continue to look at.

My view of a riverfront district is one that has an active water body in front of it, and it draws people to it, and the types of development that I envision along the river are ones that include recreation, hospitality, hotels, restaurants, residential, because everybody loves water at the end of the day.


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