Monday, September 30, 2013

Mini Office Development Under Construction in Playa Del Rey

Image from The Strand Offices at Playa Del Rey

Down on the far western end of Culver Boulevard, developer Cove Spring Partners is in the midst of construction on an office development known as "The Strand Offices at Playa Del Rey."  The project creates 10,000 square feet of creative office space, divided between two three-story buildings with architecture from the MIKA Design Group.  The Strand will include large windows and outdoor decks to provide sweeping views of the Ballona Wetlands and Marina Del Rey.  The project is centrally located in the heart of the Playa Del Rey community, with dozens of restaurants and bars lining this stretch of Culver Blvd.  And of course, the beach is just a ten minute walk away.

A few blocks west of the Strand, Legado Companies has plans for a 72-unit mixed-use development known as Legado Del Mar.  The Argonaut reports that the project has engendered opposition from the Playa Del Rey community, citing typical concerns about parking and traffic.  Some have also voiced displeasure with Legado Del Mar's Tuscan themed architecture, which stands out amongst Playa Del Rey's mid-century apartment buildings and contemporary homes.

Legado Del Mar; Image from NCWP.  Doesn't this resemble the work of a certain developer who often builds on 110 freeway adjacent lots in Downtown Los Angeles?

Sunday, September 29, 2013

Runway at Playa Vista Underway

Back on the Westside, construction is moving quickly on Lincoln Property Group's Runway development on Jefferson Boulevard.  The $200 million development broke ground in April, and is intended to provide a town center for the massive Playa Vista campus.  When completed in 2014, Runway will provide 420 residential units, 35,000 square feet of office space, and 221,000 square feet of retail space, served by a 1,400 car garage.  Announced tenants include CVS Pharmacy, Veggie Grill and Whole Foods Market.  The project was designed by locally-based architectural firm, Johnson Fain.

Runway's "lantern shaped tower," intended to be the central meeting space of the development.  Image from Lincoln Property Group.

Runway is located just down the street from a different proposal from Lincoln Property Group: the second phase of their Latitude 34 office campus, formerly known as Horizon.  The new office buildings would stand immediately north of the airplane hangar where Howard Hughes built the legendary Spruce Goose.  However, the timeline for the office project is still unclear.

Overhead map of the Latitude 34 expansion.  Image from Lincoln Property Group.

Friday, September 27, 2013

Grand Avenue Project's $650 Million Phase 1 Revealed (UPDATED)

UPDATE: The Los Angeles Times has reported that the Grand Avenue Authority voted unanimously to reject Related California's updated plans for the Grand Avenue Project.  Thus, the below information and images are already outdated.  Looks like it's back to the drawing board for both the Authority and Related, which potentially means even further setbacks for the long delayed project.  The Times indicates that Related will likely receive another three month extension to draw up new plans for the project.  Should Related be removed as the project's developer, Los Angeles County will open itself to "major legal liability," as Related has already paid over $50 million towards the construction of Downtown's Grand Park.

The Gensler designed Master Plan for Parcel Q, a.k.a. Phase 1

Earlier this month, documents from the LA County Board of Supervisors revealed that Robert A. M. Stern Architects (RAMSA) had been commissioned to draw up new designs for the much anticipated Grand Avenue Project.  Now, more information has emerged providing insight into Related California's revised plans for Phase 1 of the development.  Although the new iteration of the Grand Avenue Project has been reduced in scope from Frank Gehry's pre-recession vision, it remains one of the largest real estate developments in Los Angeles.  Phase 1 carries a staggering $650 million price tag.

Phase 1A is scheduled for groundbreaking in March 2015, with completion in September 2017.  Cost estimate?  A cool $160 million.  It will consist of an approximately 48-story residential tower on the southern portion of the site, abutting the corner of Olive and 2nd Street.  The 485 foot tall building will contain 380 apartments above 31,000 square feet of commercial space, served by a 400-car underground garage.  The project will have studio, one and two bedroom units available for rent.  While it is unclear if these renderings represent the final design for the Phase 1A tower, they are labeled with the name of the project's design architect, RAMSA.

View of the Phase 1A tower from the Music Center's Grand Avenue frontage.  The new Parcel Q master plan intentionally sets the Phase IA tower back from Grand Avenue in deference to the Walt Disney Concert Hall across the street.

View of the Phase 1A tower from the southwest.

Phase 1B is further down the pipeline, with groundbreaking scheduled for September 2017 and completion anticipated in June 2020.  Based on the previously listed estimates from Related, Phase 1B will cost approximately $490 million.   It will consist of a 250 key, 4 star hotel tower standing above 141,000 square feet of commercial space and a 20,700 square foot public plaza.  This portion of the project would be served by a 940-car garage.  The Phase 1B tower could contain 50 for-sale condominium units, if market conditions are hospitable to their inclusion.  The commercial space includes room for a market, in addition to retail and restaurant space.  Related told the Grand Avenue Authority earlier this year that Ralph's Fresh Fare had expressed interest in the location.

Although the document never explicitly states a height or number of floors for the Phase 1B tower, a diagram shows it standing approximately 41-stories and 453 feet above grade.  However, the building could wind up significantly smaller should the condominium option not be included in the final plans.

With the details out of the way, how about some more eye candy?  Keep in mind that much of this is merely conceptual.

View of the Phase 1B site from in front of the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion.  The actual Phase 1B tower would most likely be set further back from Grand Avenue, as the new master plan seeks to avoid overshadowing the Walt Disney Concert Hall.

View of Phase 1 from the Broad Museum.  It's fun to imagine this parcel as an active contributor to Grand Avenue's street life.  Helps you forget that the land is currently occupied by a derelict parking garage.

Aerial view of the project site from the south.  I hope that the blank wall at the Olive/2nd Street corner doesn't make it into the final design.

Diagram showing the ground level floor plan.  Phase 1A and Phase 1B are bisected by the vertical line seen center left in the above picture. With a significantly larger footprint, Phase 1B comprises a much greater portion of the overall cost estimate for the project.

Height profile of both Phase 1A and Phase 1B.  Two towers standing well over 400 feet tall would noticeably alter the Downtown skyline when viewed from the north.  However, Phase 1B only stands 24 floors and 283 feet tall without the condominium option.

Comparison between the original 2007 plans and the new 2013 version.  The residential program has clearly shifted away from condominiums to focus on the strong rental market.  The retail square footage and number of hotel rooms have slightly decreased, while the health club and event facility have been eliminated entirely.

Overall, Phase 1 of the Grand Avenue project will create up to 430 residential units, 250 hotel rooms, and 171,000 square feet of commercial space.  Many feared a dramatic downsizing of the project after Frank Gehry's plans were officially discarded earlier this year.  It is a relief to see that Related is still pushing forward with an ambitious vision for the site at an appropriately cautious pace.

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Mega Toys Replacing Mixed-User Gets Underway

As reported by the LA Times this morning, the long stalled "Mega Toys," development is finally getting underway in the Arts District.  The $100 million project from Lowe Enterprises includes 320 residential units over ground floor retail, set to come online in 2015.

The re-development of the Mega Toys warehouse joins two other upcoming mixed-use developments on the Arts District's northern edge: the 439-unit One Santa Fe and Legendary Development's 472-unit project adjacent to SCI-ARC.

Image from Togawa Smith Martin, Inc.

Killefer Flammang to Design Sonny Astani's "Valencia"

Last year, the LA Times reported that developer Sonny Astani was in the planning stages for a mixed-use project at the corner of Wilshire and Valencia.  Today, an initial study is out for the low-rise development, to be known as the Valencia.  Details read as follows:
1501 W Wilshire Blvd
The Proposed Project consists of the demolition of approximately 44,168 square feet of commercial office and multi-family residential land uses and the construction of a mixed-use project with 218 residential apartment units and 4,441 square feet of neighborhood serving commercial land uses on the ground floor.  11% of the Proposed Project’s permitted residential component will be set aside as Very Low income affordable units (18 units).  A total of 253 vehicular parking spaces, including 248 residential and 5 commercial, will be provided in two levels of subterranean parking within the proposed building.  The structure would includes six levels (approximately 75 feet high) above grade.
The project also includes a two-story gym and over 20,000 square feet of open space, divided between multiple courtyards and a dog run.  As with several other mixed-use developments in Westlake, the Valencia is moving forward with a reduced parking ratio (1.14 : 1).  Astani utilized the city's Bicycle Parking Ordinance, passed into law earlier this year, to swap out 28 vehicular parking spaces for less costly bicycle accommodations.

The Valencia's EIR also revealed that Santa Monica based Killefer Flammang is the architectural firm behind the project's design. While the grainy black and white images from the EIR provide only a glimpse at the Valencia's appearance, exterior finishes are listed as metal, masonry/tile, plaster and glass.  KFA's work in other parts of the city may also hint at what's to come, examples of which include the NMS@Culver City and the Motor Avenue Apartments in Palms.

Construction of the Valencia is expected to begin this year and wrap up in 2014.

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

New 17-Story Office Building Proposed for Sunset Blvd

Prepare to say goodbye to another surface parking lot on Sunset Boulevard.  According to information from the Department of City Planning, an office development is slated for the northwestern corner of Sunset and Bronson.  The specs read as follows:
5901 Sunset is owned by a subsidiary of Hudson Pacific Properties (HPP).  HPP also owns the Sunset Bronson Studios located across the street, where they have plans for a 14-story tower containing over 300,000 square feet of office space. I have reached out to a representative of HPP about the new proposal, and will update if I am provided with more information.

Although the overall Los Angeles office market remains sluggish, HPP is not the only company looking to build new space.  At this time, over one million square feet of office space is either planned or under construction in Hollywood.  Besides the two projects from Hudson Pacific Properties, here are some of the other developments contributing to that figure:
While office vacancy rates in Hollywood are currently in the double-digits, that number only tells part of the story. Bloomberg Businessweek reported in 2012 that only one-third of Hollywood's current office stock meets Class-A criteria. The upcoming developments seek to rectify this problem, making the neighborhood more capable of attracting tenants from the tech and entertainment industries.

Some of the large scale office projects coming to Hollywood in the next few years.  Clockwise from the top right: Kilroy Realty's Columbia Square, J.H. Snyder's 959 Seward, the Millennium Hollywood, J.H. Snyder's 1601 Vine, and the Sunset Bronson Studio Tower

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Marina Del Rey Arts District Gets 62 Apartments

4131 Glencoe, designed by Cuningham Architects

Marina Del Rey's so-called "Arts District," received quite a bit of investment prior to the last real estate bubble, with perhaps a dozen residential developments springing up before the market flat lined.  With the housing market in better condition five years later, the neighborhood is starting to see long dormant projects come back to life.

Recently, I noticed construction that an an extension was taken out for site plans at 4131 Glencoe Avenue, a mixed-use proposal from the Torrance based Katherine Companies.  Here's what we have lined up:
4131 S Glencoe Ave
...a 85,023 square foot five-story mixed use commercial/residential building 55-feet in height, containing 62 residential units and 3,402 square feet of ground floor commercial office space.  The project will provide 136 parking spaces of which 120 spaces are reserved for residential units and 16 spaces for commercial use.
Designs come from the Cuningham Group, the architectural firm behind next-door neighbor "Element."  Although the Del Rey Homeowners Association seemed reluctant to endorse 4131 Glencoe back in 2008, the project nonetheless appears to be moving forward.

One of my must haves for a neighborhood is good food nearby, and Marina Del Rey has that in spades.  Kaya Sushi, located at the corner of Washington Boulevard and Glencoe, makes some decent (albeit pricey) Japanese food.  If you don't have money to burn, I recommend Guillen's Taco Truck.  Tasty, inexpensive, and they set up shop right next to 4131 Glencoe every day.

If all else fails, there are plenty of dining options located within the nearby Villa Marina Marketplace, which recently underwent a $25 million remodel.

The Villa Marina Marketplace's new look, image from EPT Design

4131 Glencoe, viewed from above

Monday, September 23, 2013

Mixed-Use Development for Freeway Adjacent Westchester Parcel

7407 La Tijera, image from NCWP

According to documents from the Neighborhood Council of Westchester and Playa Del Rey (NCWP), a mostly vacant plot of land in Westchester is set for some big changes.  Marina Del Rey based Trical Construction has plans for 7407 La Tijera, a large, mixed-use development located just a short walk from the 405 freeway.  Here's what to expect:

7407, 7401-7501 S. La Tijera Boulevard, 5630 W. 74th Street
The construction, use and maintenance of a new five-story, mixed-use building, containing 140 residential units, 2,600 square feet of ground floor retail space, 241 parking spaces (including 227 residential spaces and 14 retail spaces), and located on a 51,990 square-foot lot....Of the 140 units, 127 units will be market rate and 13 units will be restricted to Very-Low Income Households....The project will provide 18,104 square feet of open space, composed of a courtyard, a rear yard, amenities (gym and recreation room), and private balconies.  Proposed parking will be located on-site, within a three-level, subterranean parking structure.
Amidst a sea of single family homes and gas stations, a four-five story building will stand out like a sore thumb.  However, Trical managed to gain the approval of NCWP by making a variety of concessions, including additional parking accommodations, landscaping, traffic management, and senior oriented affordable units.

Another angle of the proposed development, image from NCWP

7407 La Tijera Blvd

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Redondo Beach's 405 Adjacent Hotel Development

If you've ever wanted to stay at a 405 adjacent hotel built over a defunct miniature golf course, you may get your chance within the next year.  According to the Daily Breeze, TRCF Development broke ground on a two hotel development at Marine Avenue back in Spring.  As of today, construction is up to the fourth floor on both buildings.  Scheduled to open in 2014, the project will create a 147 room Hilton Garden Inn and a 172 room Marriott Residence Inn.  The hotels are conveniently located next to Redondo Beach Station, current western terminus of the Metro Green Line.

Image from Taag Architects via the Daily Breeze

Blvd 6200 Moves Toward the Finish Line

Since I was already in Hollywood on Friday afternoon, I decided to have a look at the progress on Phase 1 of Clarett West Development's massive Blvd 6200 project.  As of today, construction of the two buildings fronting Hollywood Boulevard are up to their sixth and final levels, while the two buildings at the back of the property work on their third and fourth floors.  Phase 1 brings 535 new apartments and 75,000 square feet of retail space to Hollywood.

Image from Blvd 6200, designed by VTBS Architects

If you want to see progress for yourself, but are too lazy to take the subway up to Hollywood and Vine, I highly recommend checking out Blvd 6200's live construction camera.

An image captured from the Blvd 6200 construction camera, which is mounted atop the W Hollywood Hotel.

Saturday, September 21, 2013

City West Getting 122 More Apartments

1435 W 3rd Street

The Central City development swell continues, as yet another sizeable mixed-use project is on its way west of the Harbor Freeway.  Here's what to expect:

1435 W 3rd Street
The project includes the demolition of nine buildings with 22-single and multi-family residential units and approximately 2,000 square feet of commercial floor area and the construction of a new five-story mixed-use residential building.  The residential component of the building will include 122 residential units with 11 units reserved for very low income households, and a total of 93,885 square feet of floor area, and 122 parking spaces.  The building will also include 3,500 square feet of commercial floor area, and 7 additional parking spaces for commercial use.

The development will go by the name of "3rd and Witmer."  Fairly nondescript, but a nice shot in the arm for City West.  Just south of this location, a significantly larger development is springing up next door to the Good Samaritan Hospital.

Bixel and Lucas, designed by Nadel Architects

The Bixel and Lucas development will create 648 new apartments and approximately 40,000 square feet of retail space.  606 of those residential units would be contained in the new 6-story building seen above.  The remaining 42 units are encompassed by the adaptive re-use of the handsome 1923 Medical Office Building at the corner of Lucas Avenue and 6th Street.

The Medical Office Building

Friday, September 20, 2013

Sunset Gordon Construction Update

Sunset Gordon

With construction now commencing on the 15th floor above ground, CIM Group's Sunset Gordon development is difficult to miss when traveling through Hollywood these days.  When completed, the 23-story tower will feature 301 residential units, 39,538 square feet of office space, 13,056 square feet of ground level commercial space, and an adjacent public park.

Rendering of Sunset Gordon; Image from GBD Architects via LA Weekly

While Sunset Gordon will stand head and shoulders above its neighbors for the time being, Sunset Boulevard already has several other towers in the works.  To the west of Sunset Gordon, the Columbia Square re-development includes a 22-story residential tower.  Crescent Heights recently proposed twin 28-story towers for the parking lot behind the Hollywood Palladium.  To the east, Sunset Bronson Studios has plans to break ground on a 14-story office building in 2014.  Finally, Emerson College's new 10-story Los Angeles campus is under construction right across the street from CIM's project.

Four projects that will alter the Hollywood skyline.  Clockwise from the top left corner: Columbia Square, the Palladium Residences, Emerson College, and the Sunset Bronson Office Tower

Thursday, September 19, 2013

27 Apartments Coming to Palms

3627 Hughes Avenue

A residential development will take the place of three single family homes in the densely populated Palms neighborhood of West Los Angeles.  Details read as follows:
3627-3637 Hughes Avenue
The project is the construction of a 27-unit apartment building on the southeast corner of Hughes Ave. near Tabor St....The applicant is requesting 2 on-menu incentives.  They are: A) height increase from 45-ft. to 56-ft., and a 32.5% increase in the Floor Area Ratio (FAR) from 3:1 permitted by the R3-1 zone to 3.1:1.
As Palms is already a sea of low-rise apartment buildings, 3627 Hughes is a run-of-the-mill development for the neighborhood.  What's more interesting to me is the major infrastructure project occurring just two blocks north.  Sometime in 2015 or 2016, the Expo Line's Palms Station is expected to open above the intersection of Palms Blvd and National Blvd.  When the station is complete, residents of 3627 Hughes will have easy transit access to Downtown Los Angeles and Downtown Santa Monica.

Rendering of Palms Station from BuildExpo

Other developers are also looking to take advantage of Palms' upcoming Metro Rail station.  Curbed LA reports that locally based Frost/Chaddock is building a 115 unit mixed-use development on nearby Motor Avenue.

3425 Motor Avenue, image from Killefer Flammang Architects via the Los Angeles Times

Mixed-Use Development for Blue Line Adjacent Parcel

The Grand Metropolitan, proposed for 233 W Washington Blvd

Yesterday, the Downtown LA Neighborhood Council's Planning and Land Use Committee posted a presentation from the developers of the Grand Metropolitan, a mixed-use project intended for a parking lot near the Blue Line's Grand Station.  Let's check out the details:
233 W Washington Blvd
The proposed Grand Metropolitan project calls for the demolition of an existing surface parking construct a 7-story, 95'9" (maximum) high mixed-use building consisting of 160 residential units (136,603 sq. ft) over approximately 24,000 square feet of ground floor retail with 2 subterranean parking levels.
The 24,000 square feet of retail seeks to take advantage of this area's ample pedestrian activity.  The adjacent train station, LA Trade Tech College and the Metropolitan Courthouse result in steady foot traffic along Washington Blvd for much of the day.  The right type of store(s) could thrive in the ground level commercial space.

The Grand Metropolitan is also part a growing trend of mixed-use developments emerging with dramatically reduced residential parking components.  In this case, the permit application includes a requested variance allowing for .87 parking spaces per unit, in lieu of the normally required 2.25 per unit.

Of course, that ratio doesn't take into account the 34 commercial parking spaces included in the development.  However, since it's difficult to attract commercial tenants without at least some parking, this constitutes a necessary evil for the time being.

Viewed from the intersection of Grand Ave and Washington Blvd

Viewed from the corner of Olive Street and Washington Blvd

A bird's eye view of the project site from the northwest. 

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Robert A. M. Stern to Design Phase 1A of the Grand Avenue Project

The Grand Avenue Project's Phase 1 site, otherwise known as Parcel Q

After months of speculation, the LA Downtown News reported in January that Frank Gehry's $2 billion design for the Grand Avenue Project would not be moving forward.  Now, another architectural giant will try his luck with the long stalled development.  According to a document from the LA County Board of Supervisors, Robert A. M. Stern Architects (RAMSA) will be the new design architect for Phase 1A of the Grand Avenue Project.  Developer Related California also indicated to the Grand Avenue Authority that while there is no master plan for the development, they have been collaborating with San Francisco based Gensler to "look for a template that [works] for the entire site."

Under Related's revised plans for the Grand Avenue Project, Phase 1A calls for a 380 unit residential tower with ground level commercial space at the northeastern corner of 2nd Street and Grand Avenue.  While no specifics have been released regarding the Phase 1A tower's height, Related California President Bill Witte told the Downtown News that it could be taller than the 19-story Parcel M tower which broke ground earlier this year.  Witte also indicated that Related was considering a "hybrid building," featuring for-sale condominiums on the upper floors and rental units on the lower levels.  Groundbreaking for Phase 1A is tentatively scheduled for March 2015.

Phase 1B will consist of a 250 key hotel tower with commercial space on the 1st Street side of the parcel.  The hotel tower could also have 50 for-sale condominiums, should market conditions justify their inclusion.  However, neither an architect nor a timeline have been specified for this part of the development.

While Robert A. M. Stern has had a career that most architects could only dream of, RAMSA has designed few large scale projects in the Los Angeles area.  They previously collaborated with Related California on the 42-story condominium tower in West Los Angeles known as "The Century."  RAMSA is also responsible for the design of the proposed 29-story Gayley at Wilshire.

Two Robert A. M. Stern designs: The Century (L) and the Gayley at Wilshire (R)

Although Stern has a reputation for "throwback," designs, his firm has a knack for creating buildings that fit in well with their surroundings.  It will be interesting to see how their design complements the metallic, postmodern Walt Disney Concert Hall and the honeycombed Broad Museum on the opposite side of Grand Avenue.

Affordable Housing Development Coming to Parcel Near USC

1077 W 38th Street

A mixed-use development consisting almost entirely of affordable housing is planned for a parcel located down the street from Exposition Park.  Details read as follows:
Rolland Curtis Partners, LLC is the owner of a site located at 1077 West 38th Street in the South Los Angeles Community Plan area in Council District 8.  The Owner is proposing a mixed use project containing 140 residential units, including 138 deed restricted affordable units and approximately 8,000 square feet of commercial space ("project").  The project is proposing a commercial space programmed with philanthropic uses providing medical services to the local community and office space.  The site's proximity, located within 500 feet of the Expo Light Rail stop at Vermont Avenue provides a great transit opportunity.
This new development would take the place of an existing 48-unit affordable housing complex known as the Rolland Curtis Gardens.  T.R.U.S.T. South LA and the non-profit developer Abode Communities purchased the housing complex last year for $9 million.

It's not exciting, but affordable housing is important.  Abode has done good work in the past, and I hope they can churn out a quality product on the Rolland Curtis site.  This location provides ample transit access, with the well patronized Vermont bus lines one block east and the busy Expo/Vermont Metro station right across the street.

The existing Rolland Curtis Gardens, viewed from across the Expo Line tracks.