The Future of the LA River


Imagine train yards transformed into lush public spaces. Picture spending the day strolling along a terraced river walk as light-rail commuter cars stream by on trestled tracks. This is the future of the LA River and its surrounding areas as envisioned by an impressive group of LA public planners, designers, architects and activists.

Just this week and just because we wanted to learn more, Alternative hosted LA River restoration luminaries at our DTLA Design Studio for an educational presentation on “The Future of the LA River.”

Alternative president Erik Joule kicked off the talk by welcoming Friends of the LA River (FOLAR) founder, Lewis McAdams, and explained that as a business in Downtown LA, “we have the ability and duty to be part of the solution. We’re inspired by the LA River and everything it represents in this city.” McAdams, who founded FOLAR over 27 years ago in 1986, welcomed the chance to partner with Alternative: “I believe this is the first time we’ve partnered with folks in the fashion industry. It’s exciting. I love the connection between the river and the downtown community.”

As a full-house of attendees settled into their seats with breakfast goodies from Urban Radish and Handsome Coffee Roasters, Dr. Carol Armstrong of the City of LA River Revitalization Project gave an overview of this “monument in our midst” followed by architects Leigh Christy and Marc Salette of FOLAR’s central city initiative, the Piggyback Yard, which aims to transform a huge downtown trainyard into a new public space along the LA River.

The morning presentation was packed with information and visuals of what the future of the LA River could look like if this ambitious team receives authorization from Congress and then funding (to the tune of $1 billion). It was a lot to wrap ones head around — Is it possible? How long would it take? What can I do? — but here’s what we learned: Being involved, informed and enthusiastic about the future of the LA River is all part of the fun, and that we, yes we, have a shot at making a real positive impact in our community.


Want to join us and the FOLAR team? Here’s how:

1) For the latest river news, follow FOLAR on and on Twitter @FoLARtweets plus visit their site,

2) Attend the official public meeting to comment on the LA River Ecosystem Restoration Feasibility Study released by the US Army Corps of Engineers: Thursday, October 17, 5:30pm at the LA River Center and Gardens, 570 W. Ave 26, LA 90065 (We’ll be there!)

3) Write comment letters in support of FoLAR’s latest initiatives (ARBOR Study Alternative 20 and Piggyback Yard) and send to: and

Extra special thanks to our friends at Urban Radish, Handsome Coffee Roasters and Imprint Projects for being part of this Alternative Presents event.

Watch this video created by FoLAR about the LA River:

View our Spring/Summer 2014 campaign video shot on the LA River:

Written by Shannon Flaherty Randall

Photos by Jimmy Barron

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