The city’s newest Groundwork Coffee officially opens Friday, not in a dated stripmall or a new mixed-use apartment building, but a 121-year-old North Hollywood train depot.
In 2014, Metro painstakingly restored the decrepit Lankershim Depot at North Hollywood Station, known initially in 1896 as the Toluca Southern Pacific Train Depot and now a state historic landmark. The transit agency not only wanted to restore the depot to its former glory, but make it available to a retail tenant that could serve the thousands of commuters streaming daily into the nearby Red and Orange line stations. Groundwork eventually signed a lease, but had to wait until Metro finished another project—an underground tunnel linking the subway and busway termini.
The tunnel allows commuters to transfer without crossing busy Lankershim Boulevard, and it leads right to the restored train depot. The tunnel and the coffee shop (which, according to Metro, has some killer egg sandwiches) brightened up the once dreary area around the Red and Orange line. While development has sprouted around the stops, the commuter experience was lacking. While cities like New York, London, and Mexico City feature transit stations with restaurants, magazine kiosks, and long walkways that allow commuters to avoid crossing street-level traffic, L.A. is just catching up.
Aside from the improvements in NoHo, Metro just opened a new tunnel in the 7th/Metro transfer station in DTLA, allowing commuters to exit in the middle of The Bloc shopping center. That station also features a pretzel shop directly in the station, the only Metro stop that offers such an amenity other than Union Station. Think about how difficult it is to grab a coffee, a pack of gum, or the latest issue of Los Angeles at the Culver City and Sepulveda stops, or any of the Green Line stations. Time to make the system as user-friendly as possible, especially with bus ridership on the decline.