City engineers and the winners of a design competition are now working on how to build a monument and small plaza at Sunset Junction next to the Silver Lake Jiffy Lube. But that $100,000 monument – part of a larger $1.5 million street improvement project – is only phase one of an ambitious plan to change the look of the intersection where Sunset and Santa Monica boulevards meet. In a few years, if long term plans and promised funding comes through, the Jiffy Lube that has sat alone in a triangular island bounded by Sunset, Santa Monica and Manzanita Street will be replaced by an approximately 20,000-square-foot transit plaza with solar-powered bus shelters, bike parking and room for a community gathering space.
The idea for the transit plaza – which would also include a portion of Santa Monica Boulevard south the Jiffy Lube – came up three years ago during a series of public meetings on how to improve the street scape in and around Sunset Junction. What would be the purpose of a transit island? A final report issued in 2009 explains:
The new transit plaza at Santa Monica and Sunset Boulevard should feature different types of seating, pleasant landscaping, safe and clearly marked crosswalks, good lighting, and serve as a gallery for community art and expression. The transit plaza would add a visible destination to eat lunch, rest, rendezvous with friends, wait for transit, and otherwise enjoy.
The proposed transit plaza would include rerouting bus and cars off Santa Monica Boulvard, which would be closed to become part of the plaza, on to a reconfigured Manzanita Street on the west side of Jiffy Lube. The Metropolitan Transit Authority has already pledged $3.7 million to covering project but those funds won’t be available until 2015. It’s still too early for the city to start working on details of this plan, and it’s not clear what the owners of property or Jiffy Lube think of the idea about selling the approximately 7,000-square-foot island and turning it into a transit plaza. Calls to Jiffy Lube were not returned.
“We don’t even have access to the funds for another four years,” said Julie Wong, spokesman for Councilman Eric Garcetti, who will have been termed out of office by the time work on the project beings. “We are thinking in advance.”