Renderings and report on joint development proposed at Exposition and Crenshaw boulevards

This rendering is looking south down Crenshaw Boulevard. The Expo Line runs across the center of the image. The Crenshaw/LAX Line will run beneath Crenshaw Boulevard here.

A rendering of what street-level retail may look like on the east side of Crenshaw Boulevard.

Proposed site plan. Site A is owned by Los Angeles County. Site B is owned by Metro.

Metro and Los Angeles County staff are proposing to enter a six-month negotiating period with the developer Watt Companies to build 492 residential units and about 47,500 square feet of community-serving space on two parcels at the intersection of Exposition and Crenshaw Boulevards. The development — which includes commercial and retail units — is literally steps away from stations for the Expo Line and the future Crenshaw/LAX Line, which is scheduled to open in fall 2019. Here’s the staff report.

Under the proposal, 73 (or 15 percent) of the 492 residential units, will be affordable units for households earning 50 percent or less of the area median income. The community-serving space is envisioned to include a grocery store and restaurant space targeted for locally-owned and operated businesses. A business incubator-type space would be part of the development, as well as a mobility hub to provide bicycle and carshare connections for Metro riders. 

The proposal also includes nearly three acres of public open space that will also host community events. During the six-month period, Watt Companies will offer opportunities to the community to provide feedback on the proposed project. Watt will also seek out a community-based organization who can add additional local participation on their team.

Some quick background: Metro Joint Development is a program in which Metro partners with private developers to build transit-oriented development on Metro-owned properties. These are often parcels of land that were used for transit line construction. The idea is to create transit-oriented communities (TOCs) that are more walkable and bikeable with easy access to transit. TOCs also aim to include high quality urban design and promote equity by providing a mix of uses that support housing at different income levels. To date, more than 2,000 residential units have been built as part of Metro joint developments.

The proposed development at Exposition and Crenshaw Boulevards would be on two parcels. The southwest corner of Exposition/Crenshaw is owned by L.A. County and is 1.66 acres – it’s currently a probation office the County will vacate. The southeast corner of Exposition/Crenshaw is a 1.77-acre site and is owned by Metro. It is now used for Crenshaw/LAX construction staging and will be the location of the future entrance to the Expo/Crenshaw underground station.

The location is, of course, extremely transit-friendly. There will be east-west transit access on the Expo Line to the Westside, Culver City, Santa Monica, USC, downtown L.A. and beyond. The Crenshaw/LAX Line’s underground Expo/Crenshaw Station will offer service south to Leimert Park, Inglewood, Los Angeles International Airport and connections to the Green Line.

It’s also worth remembering that Measure M will fund a northern extension of the Crenshaw/LAX Line to the Red Line in Hollywood. Under current plans, that project wouldn’t be built until the 2040s, but Metro continues to seek ways to accelerate major Measure M projects.

The Metro Board of Directors is scheduled to consider the Expo/Crenshaw joint development proposal as part of their November round of meetings, followed by the County Board of Supervisors in December. The six-month negotiating period gives Watt Companies time to conduct community outreach and refine the project.

Four development firms competed for the rights to build the project. More about the selection process is in this Metro staff report. Watt Companies was formed in 1947 and is Southern California-based. “The proposed team includes firms exceptionally accomplished in architecture, engineering, urban design, and community engagement” and will bring a number of best practices from other notable transit-oriented development projects,” wrote Metro staff in their report to the Metro Board. Metro and the County held a number of community workshops last year, which led to Development Guidelines for the site. The Watt Companies proposal was found to be the most responsive to the community priorities and vision expressed in the Guidelines. 

Through another partnership between Metro and the County, a joint development is planned adjacent to the Fairview Heights Station in Inglewood on 1.44 acres of County-owned land. More about that project here.

Here is the joint development page on that explains how Metro works with the private sector to development land adjacent to transit lines. Also, check out this interactive map showing Metro joint developments completed and in the pipeline.


13 replies

  1. The project site will have direct rail connections to Santa Monica beach, Downtown Los Angeles, and LAX. Maybe add a hotel component and maximize the number of residential units?

    The site can have 674 units, yet this proposal only shows 492.
    The site can have up to 900k square feet of floor space, yet this proposal seems to be only seems to have ~150k.

    Any project should max out the number of units and come closer to using the available floor area.

    This is a huge waste of land, money, and the trust local voters and taxpayers have put in Metro. Why is it so hard to do the right thing?

  2. What is interesting of the renderings is the people who the Architectural view as the residents of this development. This brings up the issue of Gentrification in another inter-city neighborhood that could push a lot of working class residents out of this area…

    • I am just guessing here but probably some intern ran the photo through an image rendering software program that sticks humans in the scene based on an algorithm that probably does not take into consideration what the current site specific population make-up is. Or if it does uses national or statewide statistics only. Notice that some of the humans are standing in the tracks. Like HAL said in 2001, “[Computers] are perfect in every way”. I can’t wait to have them driving cars, but until then why not contact Watt Companies and ask them?

    • Looks like Street Blog LA found interest in the rendering too.

      When Your Renderings Suggest the Black Population Has Been Abducted by Aliens, It May Be the Least of Your Problems

      A look at the TOD proposal for two lots at Exposition and Crenshaw.

      By Sahra Sulaiman
      Nov 14, 2017

  3. Also needs a knock out panel into the Station Square Development. And for all of these, hopefully not knock outs, but actual completed passageways.

  4. I see that there’s some dedicated Metro parking. Do you anticipate riders of both lines using the garage, or mainly Crenshaw? It doesn’t look huge, but then again if the existing Expo lots still aren’t filling up, maybe it doesn’t have to be high capacity.

  5. You would think it would be easy to build a new Expo Eastbound platform and demolish the one that’s now located West of Crenshaw to make the Expo line accessible in either direction without having to cross Crenshaw.

  6. I’m kinda disappointed in this rendering. It’s pretty small for such an important junction. It need not nessisarily be taller, but could incorporate less open space(there is already plenty of that in the area with massively wide Crenshaw, Expo and the actual Expo line).

    500 units is pretty good, but what about an office component? For such a central location that is so easily accessible there should be some office uses.

    Also the Plaza that opens up onto the gas station is silly. If the gas station wont sell to be developed, the project should orient its back to the gas station and put buildings up to the property line. There is no use in creating a huge open plaza that features a gas station. That isn’t the kind of space people want to hang out in(unless there is a taco truck there at night)

  7. So, going to/from Crenshaw Line to westbound Expo will require crossing two streets? Hopefully this could be addressed with Crenshaw North.

    And in the spirit of transparency, where’s the article about the one year delay for the regional connector? The Times piece was upfront and gave logical reasons for the delay.

    • Hi Steve;

      We’ve been telling folks the Connector had a 2021 completion date since March ( The 2021 date has also been discussed in public meetings since February and the Dec. 2021 date was in the publicly posted construction progress report in April (and every month since the Construction Committee has met). The LAT story was accurate and fair but the completion date has been out there for some time.

      As for the Source, we never had a single post specifically about the date being pushed back — and we should have. So that’s a fair criticism and I’ll be more mindful in the future.

      Steve Hymon
      Editor, The Source

    • What streets will you have to cross?

      Coming from the Crenshaw line to Expo Eastbound you get out of the Crenshaw West entrance and walk to the Expo line platform. You dont cross any streets.
      Coming from the Crenshaw line to Expo Westbound you get out of the Crenshaw East entrance and walk to the Expo line platform. You dont cross any streets, you just have to cross over the Expo line.

      If you get out of the wrong portal of the Crenshaw subway station, you have to cross over Crenshaw.

    • Hi Steve;

      As the rendering shows, going to/from the Crenshaw/LAX Line will require crossing Crenshaw Boulevard to reach the Expo Line’s eastbound portal. If the project is built as shown in the rendering, no streets will need to be crossed between the westbound Expo platform and the portal to the underground Crenshaw/LAX Line station.

      Steve Hymon
      Editor, The Source

      • What this rendering does not show is that currently you have to cross the (south side of the track part of Exposition) on the west side of Crenshaw if you are coming from the Probation building (Crenshaw West entrance). That street is turned into a plaza in the proposal.