Thursday, July 24, 2014

Construction Crane Arrives at Blossom Plaza

After a half-year of excavation (and finding the Zanja Madre in the process), developer Forest City is now ready to go vertical in Chinatown.  Earlier this month, a tower crane sprouted at Blossom Plaza, the once-stalled residential-retail complex that will sit adjacent to the Gold Line's elevated Chinatown Station.  Rising five stories, the Johnson Fain-designed project will feature 237 apartment units, 20,000 square feet of street-level commercial space and a 449-stall parking garage.  Renderings show a retail paseo bisecting the $100 million development, feeding directly into a public plaza at the foot of the neighboring light rail station.

Several nearby properties are also the sites of proposed or under-construction projects, as Chinatown plays catch-up to the rest of Downtown's development scene.  A short walk north, construction is underway on a $20 million remodel of the 34-acre Los Angeles State Historic Park.  On a vacant lot across Spring Street, developer EVOQ Properties plans an ambitious project that could yield twin high-rise towers.  These developments come on the heels of earlier improvements, including the Metro at Chinatown Senior Lofts and the recently-opened Jia Apartments.

In addition to Blossom Plaza, Forest City harbors ambitions inside the Central City freeway loop.  This past April, the Cleveland-based developer revealed plans for two low-rise developments along the Broadway corridor.  Designed by Harley Ellis Devereaux, the two buildings would comprise 391 apartment units and roughly 16,000 square feet of ground floor retail and restaurant space.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

New Park to Start Construction Near Ballona Creek

Image credit: SWA Group

The park-poor Del Rey neighborhood is about to get a $3 million infusion of green space, courtesy of the Mountains Recreation and Conservation Authority (MRCA).  According to signs recently posted across the street from Marina Middle School, the long-delayed Milton Street Park is scheduled to break ground this summer.  The linear, 1.2-acre green space would replace a currently vacant property along the banks of Ballona Creek, owned by the Baldwin Hills Regional Conservation Authority (BHRCA)

According to designs from the Downtown-based SWA Group, Milton Street Park would offer bird watching platforms, outdoor seating, picnic areas, and enhancements to the popular Ballona Creek bike path.  Plans would utilize green-design elements such as recycled materials, flow-through planters and native vegetation to create an ecological habitat for birds, insects and reptiles.  The park would also make improvements to its namesake street, including new speed bumps and a mid-block crosswalk to ensure pedestrian safety.

Milton Street Park represents the latest chapter in a long series of efforts to revitalize Ballona Creek and its surrounding environs.  The BHRCA and MRCA have spearheaded these endeavors, installing new signage, gates and greenery along the banks of the meandering waterway.  Although these improvements are modest in terms of budget and scale when compared to the $1 billion LA River restoration, Ballona Creek has nonetheless benefited from similar grassroots support.

Ballona Creek Renaissance (BCR) - a nonprofit organization established in 1995 - provides advocacy and educational efforts on behalf of the waterway.  In addition, BCR hosts cleanups of the creek and adjacent bike trail several times per year.

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Beverly Hills' Vacant Robinsons-May Bites the Dust

Beverly Hills' long-vacant Robinsons-May building is officially no more!  The above image, captured from the 42nd floor of the Century Plaza Towers, shows demolition well underway on the mid-century department store at 9900 Wilshire Boulevard.  The eight-acre property, located near the confluence of Wilshire and Santa Monica Boulevards, is the site of a long-standing proposal for a Richard Meier-designed luxury condo development.  Consisting of two mid-rise towers, the $500 million project would create 235 residential units and 21,000 square feet of ground-level commercial space.  However, any development plans are likely on hold, pending a sale of the property by current owner Joint Treasures International, Ltd.

Heavy equipment is also active on other projects nearby.  Across the street in Century City, developer Crescent Heights is in the midst of construction on a 39-story luxury apartment tower at 10000 Santa Monica Boulevard.  One block east, preliminary work began in April for a 12-story, 170-room Waldorf Astoria hotel.  The two projects are expected to open in 2016 and 2017, respectively.

9900 Wilshire Boulevard, Image Credit: Richard Meier & Partners

Friday, July 18, 2014

Breaking Down Olympic Boulevard's Low-Rise Building Spree

Clockwise from the top left corner: Olympic & Hill, 1000 Grand Avenue, 1001 Olive Street, Olympic & Olive

In the past year, Olympic Boulevard has become a major epicenter of Downtown's resurgent development scene.  On the western edge of the neighborhood, the boulevard is host to a slew of new and proposed hotel projects in the shadow of LA Live.  One mile east in the Fashion District, Olympic dead-ends near the center of the potentially transformative City Market development.  However, the greatest concentration of new investment along the Olympic corridor can be found on a two-block span between Grand Avenue and Hill Street.  There, four low-rise residential-retail complexes are in various stages of construction or pre-development, eradicating what was previously a five-acre sea of  parking lots.  Altogether, these projects will add over 1,000 market-rate apartment units in the heart of the booming South Park district.

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Checking in on the Slow-Moving NMS@Culver City

After climbing upwards at a snail's pace for two years, the wooden frame of the Sony Studios-adjacent NMS@Culver City appears to be (mostly) complete.  Located at the northwest corner of Hughes Avenue and Washington Boulevard, the low-rise edifice will feature 131 rental apartments above 12,000 square feet of ground floor retail and restaurant space.  The $63 million project from locally-based NMS Properties has fallen significantly behind its previously announced development timeline, which called for the residential-retail complex to open in Spring of this year.  Now one month into Summer, the Killefer Flammang-designed building is still nowhere near ready for occupancy.

Further east, construction has run more smoothly on Downtown Culver City's two other mixed-use developments.  Greystar Real Estate Partners' 115-unit Access Culver City has finally peeked above ground level at the corner of Washington and National Boulevards.  Across the street, steel and concrete are quickly rising at the future site of the Platform, a retail and office project from the Runyon Group.  Both project may soon be joined by 500,000 square foot development from Lowe Enterprises, which would create apartments, hotel rooms, offices and retail space on Culver City Station's current park-and-ride lot.

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Mid-Rise Hotel Planned on Hollywood Boulevard

6611-6137 Hollywood Boulevard

With mixed-use developments quickly eating up Hollywood's remaining surface parking lots, it appears that investors are finally setting their sights on the nondescript low-rise buildings that line the Walk of Fame.  Earlier this month, plans were filed with LADCP for the construction of a new hotel development at 6611-6137 Hollywood Boulevard.  The proposed building would encompass more than 145,000 square feet of floor area, offering 181 guest rooms, 18,700 square feet of ground floor retail space, and a 3,000 square foot theatre.  Rising to a maximum of 95 feet above street level, the project would occupy roughly .75 acres of land on a block between Cherokee and Whitley Avenues.

Construction of the new development would first require the demolition of several existing structures, including one which formerly housed the SBE-branded E.A.S.T. restaurant.  The mid-rise project would also sit across across the street from Champion Real Estate's Hollywood Cherokee Apartments, a six-story residential-retail complex planned for a parking lot in-between Las Palmas and Cherokee Avenues.

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

New Details Emerge for Massive SoLA Village

Image credit: Gensler and P-A-T-T-E-R-N-S via Los Angeles Times

This past June, Glendale-based PRH LA Mart shocked many observers when they announced plans for SoLA Village, a $1 billion development intended for two sprawling parking lots adjacent to South Broadway's REEF Building.  Consisting of 1.6 million square feet of new floor area, architectural renderings from Gensler and P-A-T-T-E-R-N-S portray shimmering condo towers and new apartment buildings along the path of Metro's Blue Line.  Although the project remains years away from groundbreaking, a new environmental study released by LADCP sheds light on both the timeline and the scale of the development program.