February 8, 2017— The Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority (Metro), in partnership with The Bloc, has opened a much needed $9.3-million pedestrian passageway at the 7th Street/Metro Center Station that will greatly improve pedestrian access to and from the busy downtown L.A. rail hub.
The passageway connects the station’s mezzanine with The Bloc (formerly Macy’s Plaza) on the southern side of 7th Street in the Financial District. The portal opening represents the first time Metro has created a direct connection from a station into a private building and is a precursor to additional opportunities for future direct connections elsewhere on the Metro system.
Acquired by The Ratkovich Company with partners National Real Estate Advisors and Blue Vista Capital in June 2013, The Bloc inhabits a full city block and is in the final stages of a $180-million renovation with unique shops, premier retailers and restaurants serving the Sheraton Grand Los Angeles hotel, office tower and downtown neighbors.
The 25-foot-long passageway is anticipated to better meet rider demand to and from the station. The 7th Street/Metro Center Station serves the Metro Red, Purple, Blue and Expo Lines. These lines together carry nearly 50,000 average weekday boardings, making it one of the busiest transit stations on the Metro Rail system. Passengers will no longer have to cross congested 7th Street at street-level to reach The Bloc. This will reduce pedestrian exposure to vehicles while accessing the station.
Congestion at both the street level and in existing station portals will be reduced as well. The passageway will also create needed capacity for thousands of new riders when the Regional Connector Transit Project connects the Metro Blue, Gold and Expo Lines in 2021.
“This new portal will make access to this heavily used rail station safer and more efficient for our customers,” said John Fasana, Metro Board Chair and Duarte City Councilmember. “We were able to partner with The Bloc to build it, which provides the public with a new amenity at a significantly reduced cost.”
Metro contributed $4.65 million of the $9.3-million project cost to build the passageway. The Bloc contributed $4.6 million for the vertical access to connect the passageway to the street. It was built at a much lower cost than the typical construction cost for an additional station portal. The station, built in 1991, was designed with ‘knock out panels’ that could be removed to connect with adjacent properties.
“We are proud to have the first truly urban Metro Portal open into The Bloc’s dynamic square at the heart of DTLA,” said Wayne Ratkovich, president of The Ratkovich Company. “The power of The Bloc and its mixed uses will now be fully realized. People from all parts of the region will be able to take Metro and walk through this portal into what will be the future of Los Angeles.”
“The Bloc passageway is an excellent example for how a successful public-private partnership can bring tremendous benefits to our transit customers,” said Metro CEO Phillip A. Washington. “By bringing private sector resources to the table, we can keep our infrastructure projects moving forward. Look for more such partnerships in the future as Metro continues to transform transportation in our county.”