Fairfax & 3rd Trader Joe’s

The Trader Joe’s/Mendocino Farms complex on Fairfax and 3rd opened a few weeks ago. They did a really nice job. But…

Let’s get to the positives first. They are really nice buildings — kind of mid century looking, the colors are nice, just a really good addition to the neighborhood.

It’s much better than what used to be there, which was a dirt lot on the corner that was empty from January to October, then it sold pumpkins and Christmas trees. Next to that was a parking lot for the WGA. Next to that was an ugly nursery (for plants, not children).

I do have a couple of problems. Once again Los Angeles has turned its back on the street. Instead of having a grand entrance to Mendocino Farms (why Trader Joe’s did not want to be the corner building is a mystery to me) on the corner, it is just a glass wall. The entrance is from the parking lot.

There is a cutout between the buildings Fairfax that allows pedestrians to access the stores from the street, but still ┬áno actual entrance to the stores. I don’t know what this city has against street life.

Along those lines, any street life along 3rd Street is destroyed by the parking lot that faces the street.

Ideally, you’d want parking behind the buildings, like they did all along Wilshire. But this was a tricky project — it was a long, narrow plot of land. It would have been impossible to do that.

What I would have liked was a row of stores where the parking lot is now, and either underground parking or a parking structure above the stores. This would have made the project much more expensive, which was likely the reason it was not done.

So they decided to exchange street life for financial considerations. There is absolutely no reason to walk along that sidewalk — there would have been had there been stores there. Third street between Fairfax and La Cienega is lined with stores and has a vibrant street scene. Why not continue it?

Until Los Angeles understands that sidewalk life is what makes a great city, we will never shake the reputation that the city is just one big parking lot that cares more about cars than people.