Warner Center, Los Angeles
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Warner Center, which began as a master-planned area, is designated as a Regional Center within the City’s Canoga Park-West Hills-Winnetka-Woodland Hills Community Plan. Historically, Warner Center is generally bounded by Vanowen Street to the north, the Ventura Freeway to the south, De Soto Avenue to the east, and Topanga Canyon Boulevard on the west. The Warner Center 2035 Plan (adopted in December 2013) added the area between Vanowen and the LA River to the plan area, which comprises approximately 1,100 acres or 1.7 square miles.
The area was originally planned to relieve traffic to and from downtown Los Angeles, as well as generate jobs in the San Fernando Valley. It was first envisioned in the late 1960s.
Warner Center is named for Harry Warner, the eldest of the Warner Brothers, owned the land since the 1940s, which he used as a horse ranch. His family donated 20 acres of land in 1967 that became the Warner Center Park (also known as the Warner Ranch Park), situated east of Topanga Canyon Boulevard between Califa Street and Marylee Street.
In 1968, Robert Allison, then the manager for the San Fernando Valley office of Coldwell Banker, arranged the sale of 630 acres of the land to Aetna Life and Casualty for $30 million. Aetna acquired the land for long-term investment and development purposes, and later brought in Kaiser as a joint venture partner. Mr. Allison spearheaded the early land planning, subdivision and development efforts on behalf of Kaiser Aetna.
Initially, tracts of the Warner Ranch land had been developed in pieces, such as the Topanga Plaza which opened in 1964 as the first enclosed shopping mall in California, or sold to users such as aerospace companies Rocketdyne and Litton Industries which built their facilities there.
With the sale of the land to Aetna, the pace of development in Warner Center accelerated. Kaiser Aetna acted as a master developer, offering land for sale or lease, buildings for sale or lease, and leased buildings built to owner’s specifications. Development sites from very small parcels up to 100 or more acres were offered.
In the ensuing 20 years, much of the build-out of Warner Center occurred, including approximately 4,300 multi-family dwelling units, and millions of square feet of commercial and office space. Notable developments include:
- The 34 acre Promenade Mall which opened in 1973.
- Kaiser Permanente Hospital which opened in 1986.
- The 1.1 million square foot Warner Center Business Park built in the mid to late 1970s, consisting of low and mid-rise office and industrial buildings.
- The 1.8 million square foot Warner Center Plaza built out from the early 1980s to the early 1990s, with its signature high-rise office buildings that give Warner Center its distinct skyline.
- The Trillium office project, consisting of twin 17-story office towers totaling 600,000 square feet, built in the late 1980s.
Real estate developer Robert Voit, in partnerships with Robert Allison and New England Life Insurance Company, developed the Warner Center Business Park and Warner Center Plaza. The partnerships were wound down in the early 1990s and since that time the ownership of the properties has become fragmented.
During the 1990s following the completion of the Warner Center Plaza project, relatively little new development occurred. The economic slowdown of the early 1990s, combined with the damage from the 1994 Northridge earthquake, served to put the brakes on new development for the rest of the decade.
The next major project was LNR Warner Center, which was built at the site of the former Prudential Life Insurance Company buildings between 2001-2005, totaling over 1.4 million square feet of primarily office space.
Also, in the early 2000s, a flurry of new multifamily housing projects were built. This burst of residential building created concerns in the community about issues such as traffic. In reaction to these concerns, City Councilmember Dennis Zine initiated a restudy of the Warner Center Specific Plan in 2005.
The Warner Center 2035 Plan
A Citizen’s Advisory Committee was established in 2005, consisting of members of the local neighborhood council[which?] and business and property owners, which worked with city planning staff and its consultants to develop the plan. Over eight years, there were hundreds of meetings and community outreach events. Differing viewpoints were integrated and compromises were made in producing the plan. In December 2013 the plan was adopted by the Los Angeles City Council with no dissent.
By 2035, the plan anticipates an additional:
- 14 million square feet of nonresidential building area
- 20,000 residential dwelling units
- 49,000 jobs
Warner Center contains a mix of companies and industries, with a concentration in healthcare, financial services and professional services. Aerospace and manufacturing uses have declined significantly during its history, primarily attributable to regional business climate factors that favor moving production out of California. Approximately 40,000 employees worked within the Warner Center area as of 2013.
In October 2005, the Orange Line was established creating an east-west link across the San Fernando Valley linking Warner Center with North Hollywood and the Metro Red Line. In June 2012, the Orange Line was expanded to include a north-south line connecting Warner Center with Chatsworth and the MetroLink system. The Orange Line, and the possible development of a future internal circulator within Warner Center, similar to the DASH system in Downtown Los Angeles, are key to Warner Center's future as a transit-oriented development.
In 2011, the Los Angeles Daily News quoted City Planner Ken Bernstein as describing a new vision for Warner Center as more "cosmopolitan, 21st century." The paper added: "The plan would allow 40-story skyscrapers. Small retail shops — where locals could walk to buy basics — would be encouraged, in an area now dominated by national chains and big malls. The long superblocks and six-lane thoroughfares would be 'cut up' by adding paseos and crosswalks to create a more intimate feel for pedestrians."
Westfield's Big 3
In 2012 the City Council approved the Village at Westfield Topanga - a new Costco, retail and entertainment development that will combine with existing Westfield Warner Center malls to make one of Southern California's largest shopping complexes: "Westfield's Big 3". The Village at Westfield Topanga is a mixed-use project designed to be a community destination and gathering place in the heart of the West Valley. The project will include over one million square feet of uses on 30.67 acres of land within Warner Center.
Security officers employed by Allied Universal Security Services continuously monitor and patrol all buildings, parking structures, and loading docks. Los Angeles Police Department operates the nearby Topanga Community Police Station.
Kaiser Permanente Woodland Hills Medical Center is a general medical and surgical hospital in Warner Center. Kaiser Permanente Medical Center consists of a 175-bed hospital and serves 2 million residents of the San Fernando Valley. Kaiser Permanente Woodland Hills Hospital, a non-profit general medical and surgical facility, is operated by Kaiser Foundation Hospital.
The hospital had 12,600 admissions in the latest year for which data are available. It performed 4,055 annual inpatient and 5,197 outpatient surgeries. Its emergency room had 38,131 visits. Kaiser Permanente Woodland Hills Hospital is the highest ranked hospital in the San Fernando Valley, and ranked 13th highest hospital among Los Angeles-area hospitals because of its strength in specialties such as cancer, diabetes, endocrinology, gynecology, orthopedics and urology."
-  "Mapping L.A.," Los Angeles Times
- Branson-Potts, Hailey (August 19, 2014) "L.A. revives a denser vision for Woodland Hills' Warner Center" Los Angeles Times
-  "Mapping L.A.," Los Angeles Times
- Wilcox, Gregory J. (October 22, 2013) "New development plan for Warner Center focuses on getting people out of cars" Los Angeles Daily News
- Smith, Dakota. "Warner Center blueprint calls for 'cosmopolitan' design". Los Angeles Daily News. Retrieved 2011-12-26.
- Smith, Dakota. "Costco-anchored Village at Westfield Topanga gets City Council OK". Los Angeles Daily News. Retrieved 2012-03-01.
- http://lapdonline.org/topanga_community_police_station lapdonline.org
- Abram, Susan. "Woodland Hill's Kaiser is best-rated in Valley". Los Angeles Daily News. Retrieved 2012-07-17.