By Dennis J. Freeman
SOUTH LOS ANGELES — After the 1992 riots, the intersection of Vermont Avenue and Manchester Boulevard was another burned-out block of rubble.
And for most of the ensuing years, it has remained that way. That won’t be the case moving forward, however.
That’s because the minds of Los Angeles City Councilman Marqueece Harris-Dawson and Los Angeles County Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas decided to come together to do away with the downtrodden look of the 4.2-acre site and come up with a plan that would make good use of the land.
On June 18, during an hour-long ceremony at the site where a popular indoor swap meet burned following the Rodney King verdicts, Harris-Dawson, Ridley-Thomas, Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti and Phillip A. Washington, CEO of the Metropolitan Transportation Authority; along with other dignitaries broke ground on the L.A. Metro Transportation School, which figures to be a guide for the global transportation industry as a career and college pathway.
The main goal or curriculum mission is to teach students skills around science, technology, math and engineering that will prepare students for careers in transportation.
“Tomorrow’s economy depends on today’s opportunities,” said Garcetti, who is the outgoing chairman of the MTA, which oversees transportation projects in the county. “This new school gives Angelenos a pathway to successful, longlasting careers in the transportation industry, which, thanks to Measure M, will create hundreds of thousands of jobs in our region for years to come.”
According to the Los Angeles Economic Development Corporation, Measure M, approved by Los Angeles County voters in November 2016, is projected to create roughly 778,000 employment opportunities in the next four decades. Measure M accounted for a half cent sales tax that is expected to drive revenue as much as $120 billion in the next 40 years.
Besides the L.A. Metro Transportation School, transformation will be soon coming to the dilapidated area. That entire area is projected to turn into Vermont/Manchester Transit Community Hub Project that will feature 180 affordable housing spaces, retail, and the L.A. Transit Workforce Preparatory Academy.
“Our vision is to put a one-of-a-kind asset here on the corner of Vermont and Manchester that will fundamentally alter the ecosystem of this community — and do so in a culturally sensitive and context-specific manner,” said Ridley-Thomas. “There will be housing, retail and a workforce training center, but the real engine of long-term economic opportunity will be a state-of-the-art boarding academy that will prepare young people for transportation-related jobs.”
The mixed-use development is sure to spark a different clientele in the area, particularly high-end vendors or businesses.
“The transportation industry faces a huge challenge in creating a qualified workforce for the future,” Washington said. “Not only is this a way to ensure we have the employees we need to transform transportation in Los Angeles County, but also a way to develop and cultivate the most important asset we have — our people.”