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  Thus, the below information and images are already outdated.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.


  1. You're a wizard! The go to blog for infill projects in L.A. Well done.
    I'm glad this doesn't seem to resemble "The Century" project, but it sadly has a flat roof. Damn. Maybe when the Wilshire Grand is done, the fire dept. or whoever controls that, will allow to us have more interesting crowns on our buildings.
    I like how the retail rendering from Olive/2nd street teases with an apple store looking retail space. When this is all done in 8 years, there will probably be a market for a downtown Apple store.

  2. i actually like this better than the Gehry proposal. The timeline is concerning though. There are 6000 units under construction in downtown LA right now so funding is readily available. Related should have zero problems getting funding for the entire project right now.