Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Canadian Skyscraper Invasion in Downtown LA

Talk about ending 2013 with a bang.  The Vancouver-based Onni Group has been bullish about Downtown for quite some time, but recent events indicate that their vision for neighborhood's future is literally sky-high.  Earlier this month, the Canadian developer submitted plans to the city for four mixed-use towers, one of which would be Los Angeles' tallest residential building.  On the parking lot of the 1212 Flower office building, Onni would construct two high-rise towers containing 730 condo dwellings and over 7,000 square feet of ground floor commercial space.  Just up the block, they plan a 28-story tower at 1133 Hope Street, containing 208 units and 5,000 square feet of ground floor retail.  Both project sites sit adjacent to Metro's Pico Station, just a short walk from the flashing lights and bustling activity of Staples Center and LA Live.  Next-door to their project at 888 Olive Street, Onni plans the most ambitious of its South Park buildings: a skyline altering 50-story tower.  Located at 820 Olive Street, the building would contain 589 residential units with 4,500 square feet of ground floor retail, helping to reinvigorate what is now a pedestrian dead zone.  San Francisco-based Carmel Partners also has big plans for this stretch of Olive, with a 700-unit development currently under construction and a 27-story tower planned across the street.  Altogether, Onni's newest projects would add nearly 1,500 residential units to Downtown Los Angeles.  It seems that the uproar over Downtown's low-rise building spree has once again proven to be much ado about nothing.  On the other hand, we'll have to wait and see if market conditions support Onni's projects by the time they're ready to break ground.

Video Flythrough of Eric Owen Moss' Creative Office Tower

All images from Eric Owen Moss Architects

The Eric Owen Moss designed (W)rapper tower is nothing more than a proposal with a stupid name at this point, but developer Samitaur Constructs has nonetheless created a promotional video for their creative office project.  Although standing just 12 stories, high floor-to-ceiling heights would result in a building over 200 feet tall.  The tower would feature a "continuous system of curvilinear ribbons," allowing for open 15,000 square foot floors, completely free of columns.  (W)rapper would utilize an existing bike path to provide direct pedestrian access to the Metro Expo Line's La Cienega/Jefferson Station.  Just down the street from Samitaur's project, Cumulus Media recently put the KLOS/KABC radio broadcast facility up for sale.  The 10-acre site, located just east of the Culver City border, is one of the largest development opportunities on the Westside.  Turning the broadcast facility into a mixed-use community could provide the necessary catalyst for a more urban West Adams neighborhood.  (W)rapper could certainly use the shot in the arm: leasing advertisements have stood at the project site for well over a year, but not a single shovel has hit the ground.

Monday, December 30, 2013

Check Out Downtown's Renaissance Hotel

Renderings from EB5 Global

At long last, we catch a glimpse of LA Live's proposed Renaissance Hotel, which was announced by Williams & Dame Development earlier this year.  The $200 million project will rise 21 stories at the northeast corner of Olympic Boulevard and Georgia Street, creating 450 upscale hotel rooms within easy walking distance of Staples Center and the LA Convention Center.  The hotel will provide guests with event space, recreational amenities, restaurants and bars.  Williams & Dame's newest Downtown hotel replaces a surface parking next to their 23-story Courtyard Marriott/Residence Inn project, which is scheduled to open its 393 rooms in summer 2014.  The Renaissance Hotel will put City Hall slightly closer to its goal of 4,000 new hotel rooms surrounding the Convention Center.  Hoteliers are currently rushing to take advantage of the underserved market, with several new projects in the pipeline.  This includes multiple hotels slated for the Metropolis project, as well as up to 700 rooms in Oceanwide Real Estate Group's Fig Central development.  The project was originally expected to start work in early 2014, but an exact groundbreaking date is unknown at this point in time.  AEG's scale model of the future LA Live Campus indicates that the Renaissance Hotel is scheduled to open in 2017.

Sunday, December 29, 2013

K2LA's Last Two Buildings Under Construction

K2LA.  Renderings from of David Forbes Hibbert, AIA.

When we last checked in on Century West Partners' K2LA development, the project's first 130-unit building had topped out near the intersection of 7th and Berendo Streets.  Just two months later, the landscape south of Wilshire Boulevard has changed dramatically.  Construction crews are now busy excavating former parking lots to create the subterranean garages for the project's second and third structures, located at 680 Berendo and 685 New Hampshire Avenue.  The two buildings, both designed by architect David Forbes Hibbert, are expected to open in the second half of 2014, combining to create 347 apartments within walking distance of the busy Wilshire Vermont subway station.  680 Berendo and 685 New Hampshire will provide residential amenities including roof decks, pools, fitness centers and club rooms.   K2LA is just one of several projects underway on the eastern edge of Koreatown, which is in the midst of a development boom highlighted by the J.H. Snyder Company's skyline changing Vermont Towers.  A large mixed-use development designed by the Archeon Group is also proposed at the intersection of Vermont Avenue and James M Wood Boulevard, featuring two mid-rise structures with 411 apartments and 44,000 square feet of commercial space.  However, that project remains in pre-development at this point in time.

Thursday, December 26, 2013

Meet South Park's Newest Tower: 801 Olive Street

801 Olive Street.  Image from GMP Architects and Carmel Partners.

San Francisco based Carmel Partners made headlines when they restarted the 8th and Grand development, and now they have plans to give their 700-unit monolith a glassy high-rise neighbor.  801 Olive Street, which was first spotted moving through City Planning back in October, would stand 27-stories and approximately 317 feet tall.  The GMP Architects designed tower would contain 363 apartments and 10,000 square feet of ground level commercial space.  Residential units would rise above a five-story parking podium, which stretches south from the intersection of 8th and Olive Streets.  801 Olive would feature an accessible rooftop, offering residents an outdoor pool, a fire pit, and a lounge with spectacular views of the Downtown skyline.  Other amenities include a landscaped courtyard and a fitness center, both located atop the 389-car garage.  While critics will almost certainly point out the conspicuous podium, 801 Olive does offer a reasonable 1:1 ratio between residential units and parking spaces.  Slowly but surely, developers are figuring out that people actually will walk in LA (and pick up a $250 jaywalking ticket in the process).  Carmel Partners' newest project sits at the center of South Park's recent development boom, with several other mixed-use projects under construction nearby.  Hollywood based CIM Group also has a residential tower in the pipeline at the northeast corner of 9th and Hope Streets, although a timeline for that project has yet to be specified.

Downtown's Libeskind Killing Avant Reveals Itself

Scaffolding is coming down, and the stucco is coming out on the first phase of Century West Partners' Avant mixed-use development.  The GMP Architects designed project, which began construction in September 2012, will bring just over 240 apartments and 11,000 square feet of ground floor commercial space to the growing South Park neighborhood in 2014.  A second phase of the project broke ground earlier this year, and will create an extra 193 units and 9,500 square feet of retail by early 2015.  The seven-story complex stands on surface parking lots previously intended for a 43-story high-rise designed by bespectacled architect Daniel Libeskind.  While the design of the now cancelled tower project had its own share of critics, Avant is a posterchild for Downtown's low-rise building spree during the past calendar year.  These projects have raised concerns amongst community stakeholders about lost opportunities for high-rise towers, and even prompted a proposed interim control ordinance regulating wood-frame construction from 14th District Councilman Jose Huizar.  Avant, which utilizes wood-frame construction, occupies two parcels directly across the street from the Los Angeles Convention Center.

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Mini Multi-Family Project for Del Rey

5980 Centinela Avenue

Let the stucco rise on the Westside.  Earlier this year, a nondescript single family home at the corner of Centinela Avenue and Culver Drive was unceremoniously demolished.  Fast forward to December, and an equally nondescript five-story structure containing twelve rental units has risen in its place.  The apartments are located just a short drive from a variety of Westside activity and employment hubs, including Venice, Playa Vista, Culver City and Santa Monica.  While it may not offer sweeping views of West Los Angeles like other low-rise developments this side of the 405, the building does overlook Ballona Creek, which has received a variety of community based upgrades over the past several years.  Perhaps Ballona Creek provides a realistic model for those parts of the LA River which aren't included in the Army Corps of Engineer's dramatic restoration project.  Regular neighborhood cleanups, landscaping and improved water flow have transformed a malodorous flood control channel into well patronized public space.  Other nearby projects include the Dinerstein Cos.' Millennium Del Rey and Lincoln Property Group's Runway Playa Vista.

Monday, December 23, 2013

Shiny New Renderings for the Historic Core's Topaz Mixed-User

Topaz's Main Street frontage.  Image from Tate Snyder Kimsey Architects.

During Downtown's mid-2000 development boom, the bulk of construction work within the Historic Core consisted of converting derelict office towers into residential space.  With most suitable buildings now spoken for, developers have set their sights on the neighborhood's limited supply of surface parking lots.  One such parking lot between Main and Los Angeles Streets is the site of Topaz, a mixed-use development proposed by Fashion District landlord Jade Enterprises.  Topaz would rise seven-stories, containing 159 apartment units and 23,000 square feet of commercial space on its ground floor.  The Tate Snyder Kimsey designed project is tailored to complement the architecture of both the Historic Core and the adjacent Toy District.  TSK even includes a modern version of the Historic Core's classic blade signs on Topaz's Main Street Frontage.  However, the project's most interesting architectural feature is undoubtedly the urban window and light curtain along its Los Angeles Street face.  The light curtain, which shall be illuminated at night, should be a mainstay on Instagram feeds for years to come.

Thursday, December 19, 2013

AMP Lofts Revived, Renamed and Redesigned

695 S Santa Fe Avenue.  Image from Shimoda Design Group.

A dinosaur has come back to life in the red-hot Arts District.  Five years ago, the AMP Lofts endeavored to create 182 condo units with ground floor retail near the intersection of Santa Fe Avenue and 7th Street.  Like many real estate developments that emerged during the Great Recession, the Koning Eizenberg designed project sat dormant while awaiting sunnier economic conditions.  Rainy skies may gloom above Los Angeles today, but it looks like the numbers finally pan out for the long awaited residential development.  A partnership lead by Bolour Associates purchased the property over the summer, and today they submitted revised plans for a mixed-use development to the city.  The as of yet unnamed project at 695 Santa Fe Avenue would consist of 240 live work units above 20,000 square feet of commercial space.  Replacing KEA as design architect is the Arts District based Shimoda Design Group, whose previous work includes Hollywood's proposed Ametron Tower.  Preliminary renderings show a six-story structure centered around an elevated 25,000 square foot central park.  At ground level, a commercial courtyard would provide up to 15,000 square feet of retail space and 10,000 square feet of outdoor seating.  Residential amenities include an outdoor pool, "world class gym," and a sauna.  The unexpected revival of the former AMP Lofts project caps what has been an eventful year for Downtown's easternmost neighborhood. The Arts District got plenty of mixed-use action, a trendy grocery store, and more media attention than it knew what to do with during 2013.  Here's hoping that 2014 is even better.

More Apartments Over Retail in Van Nuys

5700 N Sepulveda Boulevard

Building Los Angeles doesn't often trek north of the Santa Monica Mountains, but a renewed focus on urban communities in the San Fernando Valley has started to change this.  A variety of mixed-use developments are currently in the pipeline, concentrated in walkable hubs in Glendale, North Hollywood and Warner Center.  One of the newest players in the arena is a project anointed as Sepulveda Square.  Plans call for 131 apartments and just over 8,000 square feet of ground floor retail space, encased within a five-story structure north of the intersection of Sepulveda and Burbank Boulevards.  The building would feature a two-floor parking garage with room for 274 automobiles and 154 bikes, with one level situated below grade.  Residents can feel free to leave their cars behind, with the Sepulveda Dam Recreation Area and an Orange Line busway station both just a hop skip away.  If Sepulveda Square residents really want to drive, they can always brave the ever-crowded 405 one block to the west.

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Low-Rise Hotel Planned in Westlake

1700 W Olympic Blvd

A slew of hospitality projects are either planned or under construction in Downtown's South Park district, but the 110 freeway has long stood to the west as both a physical and psychological barrier to the redevelopment wave.  However, it appears at least one developer is willing to take the plunge.  Plans were submitted earlier this month for a four-story, 151-room hotel with ground floor retail at the southwest corner of Olympic Boulevard and Beacon Avenue.  Given the location, perhaps we can expect an affordable hotel similar to the nearby Ramada Downtown West.  The parcel at 1700 Olympic is currently occupied by the Olympic Presbyterian Church, a Korean language institution.  The land was listed for sale on Loopnet last year, touting it as a mixed-use opportunity with close proximity to LA Live.  While that may be true, who wants to take a one mile walk down that stretch of Olympic, especially after dark?  Convention guests should get familiar with Metro's 28 bus.

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Sepulveda Boulevard IHOP Gets a Next Door Neighbor

Travelers along the 405/10 interchange may have noticed a wood structure sprouting up on the vacant lot next to Sepulveda Boulevard's kitchy, mid-century IHOP.  This would in fact be a mixed-use development from Century West Properties, dubbed "The 2900."  The six-story structure features 48 residential units above roughly 1,500 square feet of ground floor office space.  Upper levels consist of two-story loft units, offering private sundecks with sweeping views of the Westside (seriously, check out the picture below).  Units also feature double paned windows, a necessity given that two of the busiest freeways in the United States intersect just across the street.  However, there is a more environmentally friendly transportation option in the works nearby.  Metro's Expo/Sepulveda Station is under-construction just a half-mile north, providing one-seat rides to Downtown LA and Downtown Santa Monica by mid-2016 (fingers crossed).  Locally based Plus Architects designed the project, which was originally known as "The West End," when it began working its way through City Planning back in 2008.  With Metro Rail finally pushing towards the Pacific, the 2900 joins a slew of mixed-use residential buildings springing up along its path.

Monday, December 16, 2013

Another New Look for Columbia Square?

All images from Rios Clementi Hale Studios

Work is already underway on Kilroy Realty's Columbia Square development, but that doesn't mean it's too late to change the project's design...again.  Rios Clementi Hale Studios, one of three architectural firms collaborating on the project, recently posted updated renderings of Columbia Square to their website.  While a PR representative for RCH has informed me that these plans are in no way finalized, the new renderings indicate that a redesign may be in the works for the project's 22-story residential tower.  Gone is the boxy, minimalist high-rise unveiled earlier this year, and in its place an asymmetrical glass tower, featuring misaligned windows and vertical lines stretching the length of the building.  RCH has designed the ground-up structures to mimic the architectural massings of the William Lescaze designed CBS Studios complex, with "shifted upper-stories to allow the buildings to adapt as they rise."  RCH's project may not be as ambitious in scale as Johnson Fain's original vision for the development, but it may in fact mesh better with the adjacent 1938 buildings.  At the very least, we are spared a five-story parking podium.  Columbia Square is expected to open in phases staring midway through 2014, with the residential tower ready for occupancy in early 2016.

Friday, December 13, 2013

Hollywood NIMBYs Set Their Sights on High Line West

Hollywood Boulevard is rapidly evolving along the path of the Metro Red Line, but some neighbors are going into the future kicking and screaming.  Beverly Hills based developer Sonny Astani announced plans in October 2012 for a mixed-use project just across the street from the Hollywood/Western subway station.  High Line West would create 280 residential units, 12,000 square feet of ground floor commercial space, and an elevated public park.  Sounds okay, right?  Not according to a couple of appeals filed with LA's City Planning Commission.  The two appellants, both represented by the notorious Robert Silverstein, argue that the Planning Commission has not adequately considered issues including traffic, height, financial incentives, construction impacts and (of course) earthquake danger.  One appellant also brings up High Line West's treatment of Falcon Studios, a Los Angeles designated Historical-Cultural Monument which is partially preserved under Astani's plans.  The appellant argues that anything short of a full adaptive re-use of Falcon Studios should result in the rejection of the project.  Truthfully, it sounds like the old performing arts school is lucky to receive even partial preservation, considering it was nearly demolished to make way for a mini-mall in 1988.  Former owner Polly August described Falcon Studios "an ugly building in an ugly neighborhood."  A quarter-century later, Ms. August might be surprised to see how things have started to change.  The CPC will discuss the two appeals in a December 19th meeting; the Department of City Planning has recommended that they both be denied.

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Small Lot Houses in the Works Near Helms Bakery

More low-rise action in the (sort of) Westside.  Just one block east of the soon to be reactivated Helms Bakery, plans are in the works for six houses via the city's small lot subdivision ordinance.  The Venice Boulevard Urban Dwellings, designed by the Los Angeles based Modative, would rise three stories at 8732 Venice Boulevard.  Floor plans range from 1,500 to 1,800 square feet.  The homes would front directly onto Venice Boulevard, putting their front doors just a short walk away from the increasingly busy Expo Line.  While Modative explicitly states that project was designed to emphasize pedestrian activity, they haven't forgotten about the automobile.  Each house provides two parking spaces, with vehicular access through an alley off of Sherbourne Drive.  Plans for the Venice Boulevard Urban Dwellings were originally submitted for review in 2007, but the proposal sat dormant amidst the recession.  It looks like things are now back on track, as the project is once again wending its way through City Planning.  With construction already underway on a pair of mixed-users next to Culver City Station, perhaps we're seeing the beginnings of something special in the Mid-City neighborhood.

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Blighted Stretch of Pico May Get Apartments

Image via the WLANC

While Pico Boulevard east of Sepulveda is an inviting, walkable street flush with retail options, it's a different story on the opposite side of the 405.  Highlights on this stretch of Pico include the loading dock of the West LA Best Buy (which greets the street like the back end of a DVD player) and the Fantasy Island strip club (a venerable Westside landmark with googie signage and a lighthouse).  As luck would have it, some positive changes could be on the way.  Last month, the West LA Neighborhood Council's Planning and Land Use Management Committee took a look at a proposal for a residential development just east of the intersection of Pico and Barrington Avenue.  Developer Hampstead Health, LLC would like to demolish a pair of commercial structures to build a 71-unit apartment building, rising five-stories at 11652 Pico Boulevard.  Units would range from studios to two-bedrooms, including some live/work accommodations.  The project would feature just under 8,000 square feet of open space, as well as a two-level underground parking garage.  While attitudes at the meeting were generally receptive towards the project, multiple committee members expressed concern about the proposal's lack of ground floor retail space.  Surprisingly, no attendees voiced opposition due to traffic or increased residential density.  Perhaps development averse West LA is finally getting its act together in preparation for the coming of the Expo Line.  An overall timeline for the Hampstead Health project remains unclear, as the developer has yet to submit their project to the Department of City Planning.

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Plans Would Give Koreatown Plaza a Mixed-Use Neighbor

940 S Western Avenue

Looks like another underutilized Koreatown parcel is set to bite the dust, as the neighborhood continues with its development renaissance.  According to a case filing with the Department of City Planning, the property at the southeast corner of Western Avenue and San Marino Street is the site of a proposed mixed-use development.  Plans call for 79 apartment units above ground floor retail, served by a three-level subterranean parking garage.  The project is located just across the street from Koreatown Plaza, one of the neighborhood's largest shopping malls.  The case filing fails to specify the height of the proposed building, but we can most likely expect something of the wood-framed/low-rise variety (the kind of development that everyone seems to hate in Downtown).  Located just a short jog down Western from the current Purple Line terminus, Metro Rail and its various destinations are at the tip of your fingers.  As the blocks around Wilshire/Vermont Station have recently gone on a development binge, perhaps momentum is beginning to pick up near Wilshire/Western.  With a boundless supply of surface parking lots and strip malls to work with, LA's most densely populated neighborhood still has plenty of room to grow.

Monday, December 9, 2013

Here's What a Palms Station TOD Might Look Like

As the Expo Line marches west to Santa Monica, so do the opportunities for transit oriented developments surrounding its stations.  The under-construction Palms Station already sits within one of LA's most densely populated neighborhoods, but that hasn't stopped the folks over at Los Angeles Transit Neighborhood Plan from drawing up a conceptual design for an adjacent mixed-use TOD.  In LATNP's vision, the strip mall located on National Boulevard just north of the 10 freeway would be demolished to make way for apartments above a pedestrian friendly retail complex.  Two residential buildings would front National, with small scale commercial establishments lining their ground floors.  The southernmost segment of the parcel would feature a supermarket below an above-grade parking garage, creating a buffer between the residential buildings and the adjacent freeway.  New structures would range from three to seven stories in height, staying in scale with the neighborhood's existing multi-family buildings.  Of course, I can't emphasize enough that this is nothing more than a hypothetical vision.  Still, the strip mall occupies valuable real estate, and probably represents the only chance for a large scale TOD near Palms Station.  Some non-fantasy developments in the neighborhood include the proposed Hughes Apartments, the under-construction Motor Avenue Apartments, and the super fugly Palms Point mixed-user.

Friday, December 6, 2013

Millennium Del Rey Has Lots of Stucco and a Little Hyperbole

Architectural renderings from the Dinerstein Cos.

Just north of Jefferson Boulevard and Centinela Avenue, Texas based Dinerstein Cos. is wrapping up construction on a development which has transformed the former site of a church into a multi-family residential complex.  The project at 5550 Grosvenor Boulevard, dubbed Millennium Del Rey, will create 196 apartments within a stucco-clad four-story structure.  Units in the LEED Silver Certified development will range from one to three bedrooms, featuring high-quality fixtures and smart home technology.  The Millennium's official website touts adjacency to the shops and restaurant of Playa Vista (yes) and Abbott Kinney Boulevard (not really).  While upscale shopping in Venice may be a little outside of walking distance (hence the project's four-level off-street parking garage), future residents of Millennium Del Rey will be located just across Jefferson from the Lincoln Property Group's Runway at Playa Vista.  It may not offer boutique clothing stores, but you can get your organic fix at the future Whole Foods Market.

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Residential High-Rise Proposed in West LA

11750 Wilshire Boulevard

We don't hear much talk about skyscrapers in-between Century City and Downtown Santa Monica, but some recent events might change that.  A filing with the Department of City Planning indicates that a sizeable mixed-use development is on the way at 11750 Wilshire Boulevard.  Specifically, a 376-unit residential high-rise accompanied by a one-story retail building.  The 2.8 acre parcel, which straddles the West LA - Brentwood border, is owned by Santa Monica based Douglas Emmett, Incorporated.  The property currently houses the 17-story Landmark II office tower, a surface parking lot, and a low-rise structure which contained a Pavilions grocery store up until earlier this year.   While the case filing is mum on details about the height of the proposed tower, the small surface parking lot offers little in the way of easily buildable real estate.  Unless the plan also calls for the demolition of the former Pavilions location, there's nowhere to go but up.  Coincidentally, this project would be located directly across the street from another tall residential building that recently made the news.  The mid-century Barrington Plaza, also owned by Douglas Emmett, was the site of an 11th floor apartment fire back in October.  The 52 year old tower is not equipped with an emergency sprinkler system, as its construction predates the state law which mandates their presence in all high-rise buildings.  It's probably safe to assume that whatever rises at 11750 Wilshire won't have the same problem (knock on wood).

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

I Spy Cladding on One Santa Fe

The first move-ins aren't expected at the Art's District's One Santa Fe complex until Fall 2014, but construction crews are now busy attaching alabaster hued cladding on the $160 million project's eastern facade.  The quarter-mile long structure will feature 438 apartments, 80,000 square feet of ground floor retail, and perhaps a direct link to a future Arts District extension of Metro's Red and Purple Lines.  While the residential population of the Arts District is not yet large enough to sustain a heavy rail station, a couple of nearby projects currently in the works will help change that.  Two blocks south on 3rd street, a 320-unit development from Lowe Enterprises is under construction on the site of the former Mega Toys warehouse.  Legendary Development also has plans for a seven-building, 472-unit development on the vacant lot that sits adjacent to SCI-Arc.

Image from Michael Maltzan Architecture

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Excavation Permit Issued for 10000 Santa Monica Boulevard

All images from Handel Architects

Seems like it took forever getting here, but the long delayed 40-story tower at 10000 Santa Monica Boulevard is finally ready to get off the ground.  Or more accurately, into the ground.  Earlier today, the Department of Building and Safety gave developer Crescent Heights the go-ahead to start excavation and shoring work for the tower's two-level underground parking garage.  The 2.4 acre lot, positioned across the street from Beverly Hills' western border, has awaited re-development since 2006.  Ambitious plans for a 45-story condo tower designed by Jean Nouvel were scuttled by the global recession, allowing Crescent Heights to purchase the land at a discount in 2010.  After sitting on the property for several years, it looks like Crescent Heights is now ready to make their move in Century City (and maybe Hollywood).  While earlier reports stated that 10000 Santa Monica would contain 283 condominiums, the project's official website indicates that Crescent Heights has instead opted to move the project forward as luxury rentals.  Either way, Handel Architects' 483-foot tower will soon re-write the Century City skyline.

Argyle Apartments Sprucing Up East Hollywood

If you take a quick walk south from the Hollywood/Western subway station and the CIM Group's underwhelming retail center, you'll notice crews hard at work on a multi-family development at the southeast corner of Western Avenue and Carlton Way.  The Killefer Flammang designed Argyle Apartments started construction earlier this year and are expected to bring 40-units of affordable housing to the market by Spring 2014.  The $17.5 million project is the work of Gay & Lesbian Elder Housing (GLEH), a non-profit organization which buildings homes for low-income gay seniors (talk about your niche markets).  Amenities include a community room, outdoor barbeque grills and a children's play structure.  In addition to the conveniently located subway up the street, the Argyle Apartments are located just one block north of the under-construction Target at Sunset and Western.  Even more options for an already highly walkable neighborhood.

Monday, December 2, 2013

Mixed-Use Action Near the Cornfield

All images from T.A. Patty Development, Inc.

All of a sudden, real estate around Chinatown Station seems to be a hot commodity.  Forest City finally started work on the long delayed Blossom Plaza back in October, and now another nearby mixed-use development has shown its first sign of life in years.  T.A. Patty Development is currently seeking the approval of a vesting tentative tract for the Chinatown Lofts, pegged for the triangular shaped parcel at 1101 N Main Street.  The developer's website shows a six-story, 318 unit building designed by Steinberg Architects, including 18 live/work spaces at ground-level.  Despite the adjacent light rail station and the Cornfield neighborhood's non-existent parking requirement, the project would include a large 618 car garage.  If and when the Chinatown Lofts come to fruition, it will be the result of nearly a full decade of patience and hard work.  T.A. Patty submitted the project's EIR way back in 2005, not long after the Pasadena - Union Station segment of the Gold Line first opened.  Most of Downtown LA has grown by leaps and bounds since then; perhaps the stars have finally aligned themselves for Chinatown as well.

Friday, November 29, 2013

Playa Vista Fills Out: Even More Office Space

Playa Vista may have lost out on Riot Games to West LA, but it looks like the massive lease has whet the appetite for additional creative office space on the Westside.  Next up is a project located on the far eastern edge of the Playa Vista's sprawling campus.  A triangular shaped parcel, bounded by Centinela Avenue, Artisans Way and Bluff Creek Drive, is the proposed site of a trio of low-rise office buildings.  While the project's case filing is light on details, we do know that the buildings would stand just two-stories, adjacent to a surface parking lot.  Not exactly stellar urban design, but that's pretty much par for the course with Playa Vista.  The new office buildings would be located just a stone's throw from the Entrada, the controversial office mid-rise proposed near the Westfield Culver City mall.

Project location, as it currently appears.

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Steel Rises for Good Sam's New Medical Plaza

With the rapid expansion of Downtown LA's residential population, a variety of eateries and retail establishments have set up shop in the neighborhood.  Another (albeit less exciting) necessity for a growing community is improved medical services, an area which now must play catch up due to Downtown's growth spurt.  With that in mind, Good Samaritan Hospital's $80 million expansion finally got concrete in the ground this past August.  The steel skeleton of the Medical Plaza and Outpatient Pavilion currently stands two floors above the northeast corner of Wilshire Boulevard and Witmer Street.  When completed, the seven-story, 193,000 square foot edifice will house the hospital's radiology and oncology departments, in addition to an ambulatory surgery center.  The Ware Malcomb designed facility will feature a two-story lobby on Witmer Street, shared with one of the hospital's existing buildings.  Good Sam' also intends to foster new pedestrian activity in the Westlake neighborhood through the inclusion of a ground floor cafe and a window display focused on medical history.  The Medical Plaza will soon be joined by a slew of mixed-use neighbors, including the Valencia by Sonny Astani and a proposed 52-unit development across the street.

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Old Lucia Tower Site Going Low-Rise

A Chinatown parcel that once harbored high-rise ambitions instead may give way for something much shorter.  Earlier this month, LA City Planning received an application for a mixed-use development at the northwest corner of Cesar E Chavez and Grand Avenues.  The project's case filing calls for a seven-story building, containing 225 residential units, 8,000 square feet of ground floor retail, and a two-level subterranean parking garage.  Back in 2006, the Downtown LA News reported that siblings Larry and Ralph Cimmarusti were working on plans for a 31-story mixed-use tower at this location.  The Lucia Tower, named for their grandmother, would have created 200 condominiums above a six-story podium on a lot sandwiched between G.H. Palmer's Orsini Apartments and the 101 Freeway.  Unfortunately, that vision was crushed by the collapse of the real estate market, just like so many other Downtown proposals from the mid-2000's.  Now it seems that the project is back in a form that actually has a shot at getting built.

The never built Lucia Tower, designed by the Archeon Group

Monday, November 25, 2013

Check Out the Upcoming SFV Family Support Center

San Fernando Valley Family Support Center.  Image from HKS Architects via World Architecture News.

Back in September, longtime County Supervisor Zev Yaroslavsky announced that the San Fernando Valley Family Support Center was breaking ground in Van Nuys.  Located at the southwest corner of Van Nuys Boulevard and Saticoy Street, the 220,000 square foot project carries a price tag of $175.9 million.  When the LEED Gold certified facility opens in August 2015, the departments of Children and Family Services, Public Social Services, Child Support Services, Probation, Health Services, Mental Health and Public Healthy shall be unified under one roof.  Putting these agencies in close quarters will hopefully facilitate better collaboration, allowing them to serve the citizens of LA County more effectively.  The five-story structure was designed by Los Angeles based HKS Architects, whose prior work includes the Montage Beverly Hills.  A key feature of the 6.8 acre campus is its large interior courtyard, featuring numerous gathering spaces and a children's play area.  Family oriented, indeed.

Friday, November 22, 2013

Little Osaka Parcel May Get Apartments

1900 S Sawtelle Blvd

Little Tokyo has seen construction start on a pair of new mixed-use developments within the past year, and now its Westside counterpart wants in on the action.  Plans were submitted last week for a 52-apartment development at 1900 Sawtelle Boulevard, located on the northern end of the Japanese-American cultural enclave sometimes referred to as Little Osaka.  The apartments would be housed within a five-to-six story building, featuring just under 3,300 square feet of ground floor restaurant space.  A document from the West LA Neighborhood Council indicates that the land owner is a Mr. Peter Wilson (probably not our former Governor).  However, you can expect some local Japanese-Americans to oppose this project for sentimental reasons.  The building at 1900 Sawtelle formerly housed the Harada Nursery, which was founded in 1948.  While not architecturally significant, the structure has served as a community landmark since shortly after the cessation of Japanese-American Internment.  Although Harada Nursery has not received landmark status, City Planning acknowledged the site's historical significance in a July newsletter.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Shiny New Rendering for Olympic & Olive

Here's a better look at the KTGY Group's design for the proposed Olympic & Olive mixed-use development, with credit to the Downtown LA Neighborhood Council's Planning and Land Use Committee.  The seven-story project from Lennar Multifamily Investors would contain 201 apartments and just over 4,000 square feet of ground floor retail to South Park.  Not to mention a reasonably sized 228 car underground garage, supplemented by 221 bike parking spaces.  As mentioned in previous coverage of this project, Olympic & Olive would fall just inside the eastern boundary of Councilman Jose Huizar's proposed interim control ordinance prohibiting wood-frame construction.  Adoption of the ICO would prevent Lennar from moving forward with the project as currently designed.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Crane Action at the Wilshire Grand Site

Passers by may have noticed the recent addition of a mobile crane to the massive Wilshire Grand construction site.  Perhaps Turner Construction is about to install a larger stationary crane?  Or maybe it has something to do with tomorrow's "bottoming out," ceremony.  Crews have now excavated the site down to 106 feet below street level, capping off a demolition process which began late in 2012.  Soon afterwards, the Wilshire Grand begins a three year climb to its 1,100 foot apex.  When opened in 2017, the tower will contain 900 hotel rooms and 400,000 square feet of office space within 73 stories.  No need to mention the 70th floor lobby and the rooftop pool/observation deck.  Can it please be 2017 already?

Brentwood Getting a Mixed-User With a Corny Name

Picasso Brentwood.  Image from Real Estate News TV.

There's always more demand for retail and residential space west of the 405, right?  Santa Monica based Metropolitan Pacific Capital is currently working on plans for Picasso Brentwood, a mixed-use development pegged for three parcels just east of the intersection of Wilshire Boulevard and Bundy Drive.  The project's case filing with the Department of City Planning describes a six-story, 81 unit development served by roughly 7,500 square feet of retail space and a 126 car garage.  Apartments will range from studio to two bedroom units, with 10% of all residences set aside as affordable housing.  Architectural work comes from the firm of Van Tilburg, Banvard & Soderbergh, whose previous work includes Westwood's Remington condo tower.  Although groundbreaking was expected in spring of this year, the project has yet to receive construction permits.

Monday, November 18, 2013

Construction Permits Issued for Selma and Vine

Prepare to bid farewell to one of the most conspicuous surface parking lots in Hollywood, as Camden Development's mixed-use project at Selma and Vine is just about ready to get shovels in the ground.  As of this morning, the Department of Building and Safety has issued permits to Camden for shoring and foundation work on their $240 million project.  Plans call for a 7-story building consisting of 287 apartments, 39,000 square feet of street level retail, and a four-level underground parking garage.  Like many of the developments currently underway in Hollywood, Selma and Vine represents a downsized version of more ambitious pre-recession plans.  When the project first emerged in 2007, Camden envisioned an 11-story building with a ground level Whole Foods Market.  Looks like Camden traded one overpriced chain for another, as a document from TCA Architects indicates that Equinox Fitness has signed on as a ground floor tenant. On the downside, Selma and Vine's proposed office neighbor across the intersection has seen its groundbreaking schedule delayed yet again.

Playa Del Oro North Rises

Get ready for more stucco clad mixed-use apartments in Westchester, as the second phase of Decon Properties' Playa Del Oro springs up on Manchester Boulevard.  The $67 million Playa Del Oro North, designed by Eduardo Cespedes Architecture, will create 260 residential units and 5,000 square feet of ground floor retail when completed in fall 2014.  The building will be served by a 515 stall underground parking garage, with amenities such as a fitness center/sauna, a "resort-style pool," a game room, a dog park, and a screening room.  The project adds to the 405 apartments and 27,000 square feet of ground floor commercial space from the first phase of Playa Del Oro, which opened in 2009.

Image from Multi-Housing News

Friday, November 15, 2013

First Look at the Martin Expo Town Center

Martin Expo Town Center.  All images from Popularise.

Density averse Westside residents may object, but the Martin family continues to press onward with ambitious plans to convert their Cadillac dealership into a mixed-use development.  Although Martin Cadillac has been a West LA landmark for decades, the coming of the Expo Line motivated the family to re-envision their property with retail, office and residential space.  The Martins have set up a page for the Martin Expo Town Center on Popularise, providing neighbors a venue to offer critiques and suggestions for the project.

Altogether, the Martin Expo Town Center (METC) plans for just over 800,000 square feet of total floor area.  The project's 516 residential units range from studio to three bedroom apartments, divided between low-rise and mid-rise structures.  The tallest residential building would stand 11-stories, featuring roughly 60,000 square feet of street level retail space.  METC's 200,000 square foot creative office component would rise within a 10-story building, towering 160 feet above the corner of Olympic Boulevard and Bundy Drive.  At ground level, the office tower would contain a 10,000 square foot showroom for Martin Cadillac.

Of course, we have yet to see how METC navigates its way through the approvals process and the inevitable fight with the locals.  The West LA Neighborhood Council's Planning and Land Use Management Committee voted unanimously to oppose the project back in June, citing concerns over traffic gridlock and the height of the proposed buildings.  While the mid-rise structures are hardly out of scale with the neighborhood (there are multiple 10-story office buildings within a quarter mile radius of the project site), the concerns about traffic aren't completely unreasonable.  The Olympic/Bundy intersection comes to a standstill at rush hour, and the relocation of Riot Games next-door will likely exacerbate the current mess.  METC is also difficult to accept as a "transit oriented development," considering that the full build out of the proposal creates nearly 1,800 parking spaces.