It was the end of another unseasonably warm winter day earlier this month, but despite the sun there was little warmth emanating from the large empty lot next door to the Magnolia Science Academy on Sherman Way.

Skateboarders rolled over 4 acres of cracked asphalt, strewn with weeds and surrounded by sagging chain link fence in the heart of the Reseda business district.

But the vision did not seem to faze City Councilman Bob Blumenfield.

“I look at this and see an anchor – a catalyst for major change and transformation for Reseda,” he said, enthusiasm in his voice.

While the potential may not be obvious, the blighted parcel in the 18100 block of Sherman Way just west of Lindley Avenue is the centerpiece of a new initiative the councilman is launching called “Reseda Rising.” Blumenfield is determined that it will finally jumpstart the long-delayed reboot of a neighborhood that has been decaying for decades. He called it his top priority – and a few things are underway already that lend credibility to the plan.

First, Blumenfield and his staff have corralled $20 million in unused redevelopment bond money and around $6 million set aside by voters in 2001 – and apparently forgotten - for construction of a Reseda ice rink. He’s brought L.A. Mayor Eric Garcetti on board, getting Sherman Way included in the mayor’s Great Streets initiative. And he’s just completed a half-million-dollar median improvement project that spruced up Sherman Way medians with attractive landscaping.

“People in the community are energized and excited and Bob is very engaged. I think we’re on the right path,” said Diane Taylor, president of Traders Loan & Jewelry, a pawnshop that has been at the busy corner of Reseda Boulevard and Sherman Way for 60 years.

Read the full story in the Feb. 23 issue of the San Fernando Valley Business Journal.