LOS ANGELES – (Realty News Report) – Wayne Ratkovich, a Los Angeles-based real estate developer who led a panel of real estate experts envisioning a redevelopment of the Houston’s Astrodome, has passed away. He was 82.
Mr. Ratkovich is best known as founder and CEO of The Ratkovich Company, whose stated mission in its 40 years as a Los Angeles development firm has been “to profitably produce developments that improve the quality of urban life.”
In December of 2014, Mr. Ratkovich visited Houston to lead a national panel of development and architecture experts from the Urban Land Institute who conducted an in-depth advisory study of the vacant Astrodome, which opened in 1965.
“We quickly realized that the historic value of the site made retaining the Astrodome structure essential,” Mr. Ratkovich said in 2014.
The ULI panel, which issued its report in March 2015, recommended that the entire 350-acre Astrodome complex be converted into a landscaped place with a reactivated Astrodome. The underground levels of the historic domed stadium should be converted to parking and the interior of the stadium should become a multi-use facility that could be used to extend the game-day experience for fans attending Houston Texans NFL games.
“Our vision for the Astrodome is one of a grand civic space that enhances the entire NRG Park Complex,” Mr. Ratkovich said at the time.
The Astrodome, which is owned by the Harris County government, remains vacant and redevelopment progress has not materialized.
Mr. Ratkovich was an international leader in the Urban Land Institute. In 2011, the ULI named Mr. Ratkovich a Life Trustee, an honor given to just 15 members in the 80-year history of the 35,000-member organization. Mr. Ratkovich was formerly a member of the Urban Land Institute’s Global Board of Directors, as well as a Trustee Emeritus of the National Trust for Historic Preservation.
In Los Angeles, Mr. Ratkovich redeveloped some 18 historic edifices including the James Oviatt Building in downtown Los Angeles; the Pellissier Building and the adjoining Wiltern Theatre in the Miracle Mile neighborhood.
“The greatest thing Wayne did is shine a bright light on historic buildings in Downtown and beyond,” said Linda Dishman, President and CEO of the Los Angeles Conservancy. “He was a pioneer in transforming underutilized buildings into places people wanted to go, including the Oviatt, Fine Arts and the Wiltern. He was not only a champion of preservation in Los Angeles but also as a Trustee of the National Trust for Historic Preservation. He was a towering figure and will be greatly missed.”
One of his firm’s most notable urban developments in the Los Angeles area is The Bloc, a transformation of the former Macy’s Plaza in downtown Los Angeles. Mr. Ratkovich saw a way to truly integrate this formerly closed-off, fortress-like complex into its downtown neighborhood, creating the first direct underground connection of a private community to a subway station and allowing The Bloc’s tenants and visitors to seamlessly connect with L.A.’s transit system.
“Wayne Ratkovich was a true visionary in urban development, city building, and place making and exemplified everything that a real estate developer should be,” said Clare De Briere, Americas Chair and member of the Global Board of Directors of the Urban Land Institute. “His focus on creating places for people – thoughtful, beautiful, wondrous, peaceful, playful places – made everyday life better for everyone who experienced them.”
Sept. 27, 2023 Realty News Report Copyright 2023
Photos by Ralph Bivins, Realty News Report Copyright 2023
File: Astrodome. ULI. Astrodome Vision Advisor Wayne Ratkovich Passes