Thursday, October 31, 2013

Excavation Underway for Hollywood's Columbia Square

When we last saw the Columbia Square project in August, I wondered if the site was being readied for construction.  We now have an answer, as excavation has started for Kilroy Realty's $300 million re-development of the former CBS Studios.  The parking lot on the northern side of the parcel is making way for two new office buildings and a 22-story residential high-rise, set to create 330,000 square feet of office space and 200 apartments.  The new buildings will sit atop a four-and-a-half level subterranean parking garage (?!).

The adaptive re-use of Columbia Square's original 1938 buildings began over the summer.  Construction crews are currently gutting the interiors of the William Lescaze designed complex to repurpose it as creative office and commercial space.  I feared that the fire which damaged the construction site in September might have delayed the project.  Sometimes it's nice to be wrong.

Viewed from the southeastern corner of Sunset Boulevard and Gower Street

Mar Vista Getting Eight Small Lot Homes

8 East Homes.  Image courtesy of Killefer Flammang Architects.

Mar Vista's stretch of Washington Place will soon get a nice shot in the arm, as a parcel at the southwestern corner of the intersection with East Boulevard will soon get eight mini-houses via the small lot subdivision.  The 8 East Homes will range from 1,600 to 2,000 square feet, each containing 3 bedrooms and 3.5 bathrooms.  They will also be equipped with roof top decks, offering panoramic views of the LA basin.  The project comes from Anejo Development with design work by Killefer Flammang Architects, the same team which created a four home development on Mar Vista's Beethoven Avenue back in 2011.  The developer has indicated that completion of the 8 East Homes is scheduled for mid-April of next year.

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

More Mixed-Use Madness in Downtown

924 Olive Street

It's the same old song and dance in South Park, as yet another surface parking may bite the dust to make way for apartments.  Plans were submitted earlier this month for a seven-story mixed-use development at the northeastern corner of Olympic Boulevard and Olive Street.  The new project, located at 924 Olive Street, would contain 263 residential units above 14,500 square feet of ground level retail space.  The owner of the land appears to be Steve Needleman of Anjac Fashion, a major landlord in Downtown.

924 Olive adds even more momentum to the development tsunami that has hit this stretch of South Park over the past year.  Check out a few of the projects currently in the works (most would be located within the area depicted in the above image):

However, some of these projects may be stuck in limbo if and when Councilman Jose Huizar's proposed interim control ordinance prohibiting wood-frame construction goes into effect.

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

535 Kingsley: Rendered

Seems like the Archeon Group's work is showing up all over Koreatown these days.  Last week we took a glance at a their very preliminary looking design for a mixed-use project on Vermont Avenue.  Now we head north of Wilshire to check out renderings of 535 Kingsley Drive.  The low-rise development, which was first spotted back in August, would contain 83 apartments and a parking garage within its six-story frame.  Will the architecture win awards?  Probably not.  But with some quality cladding, this could turn into a very solid infill project just a short walk from the Purple Line's Wilshire/Normandie Station.  At the very least, 535 Kingsley is a major improvement over the surface parking lot that it replaces.

535 Kingsley from its eastern profile.  All renderings from the Archeon Group.

Monday, October 28, 2013

Breakfast Food in the Hayden Tract

Culver City's Hayden Tract has long served as an architectural playground for Eric Owen Moss.  In recent years, the SCI-Arc director has designed a variety of undulating structures that decorate the former industrial neighborhood, including a vertical cactus garden and the Samitaur Tower (a familiar landmark to Expo Line passengers).   Moss' latest creation is a four-story mini-tower dubbed "Waffle," currently taking form on Hayden Avenue.  World Architecture News reports that the project will stand 55 feet tall, containing a conference area, mezzanine lounge, closed meeting space and a rooftop deck.  Waffle is a unique adaptive re-use project, utilizing the frame of a 60 year old former industrial press.  Signage is also up for Moss' proposed 12-story office building at the corner of Jefferson and National Boulevards, although work is not imminent for that project.

Waffle, image from Eric Owen Moss Architects.

Friday, October 25, 2013

More Apartments in the NoHo Arts District

11424 Burbank Boulevard

Back out to the San Fernando Valley we go.  A short walk up the street from the North Hollywood terminus of the Red and Orange Lines, plans are in the works for a mixed-use development at 11424 Burbank Boulevard.  Here are the details from the project's environmental report:
11424 W Burbank Blvd
Construction of a 124 unit multi-family apartment and 750 sq. ft. of ground floor retail space, 56-ft. in height, on a 36,847 sq. ft. lot.  The proposed project will have 98,866 sq. ft. of floor area entailing 4 levels of residential over one at grade level (parking garage, commercial space and three residential units), and one subterranean parking garage.  There will be a total of 138 auto parking spaces and 136 bike parking spaces provided.
While some developers in transit rich Downtown Los Angeles want to built more parking than required, 11424 Burbank clocks in with an approximately 1:1 ratio between parking spaces and residential units.  That's on the low end for multi-family buildings in Los Angeles, and even more impressive when you consider that the project is located north of the Santa Monica Mountains.  Perhaps we're finally moving towards a less auto-dependent version of the San Fernando Valley.

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Archeon Group Designs Mid-Rise Complex for Vermont Avenue

Vermont & James Wood, viewed from the southwest.  Image from Archeon Group.

Over the summer, a proposal appeared for a mixed-use development on a pair of corner lots at the intersection of Vermont Avenue and James M. Wood Boulevard.  I recently happened upon a rendering of the Vermont & James Wood via the Archeon Group, design architect for the two building project.  Although the Archeon Group does not provide specifics on the dimensions of either building, both appear to stand over 10-stories tall, consisting of studio, one and two bedroom apartments.  The Vermont & James Wood's case filing with the Department of City Planning indicates that the project would create a total of 411 residential units and 43,800 (?!) square feet of ground level retail space.  That level of density puts it on par with the Vermont Towers and the K2LA Apartments, both currently under construction just a few blocks north.

By the way, what the hell is up with the balconies on these buildings?  Perhaps it's just due to the preliminary rendering, but their boxy appearances make them look like external air conditioning units.

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Residential Tower Slated for 8th and Olive

801 S Olive Street, outlined in red.

Back in August, the Downtown LA Examiner reported that the parking lot at the southwestern corner of 8th and Olive Streets was in escrow.  It appears that the sale has now closed, as plans were filed earlier this month for a 27-story mixed-use tower at 801 S Olive Street.  The building would contain 363 apartments above 10,000 square feet of ground floor retail space.  Quite a change of pace for a corner that has served as a parking lot for over 60 years.

While the dated Google Earth image seen above would indicate otherwise, this parcel is actually located in the heart of South Park's recent development boom.  Just across the street, San Francisco based Carmel Partners is building a 700-unit apartment complex at 8th and Grand, with Whole Foods signed on as a ground level tenant.  Two blocks west, the Ratkovich Company plans to start construction on a $160 million remodel of the dated Macy's Plaza in early 2014.

801 Olive would also join a couple of tall neighbors currently under construction: the Onni Group's 33-story mixed-use building at 888 Olive Street, and Wood Partners' 22-story 8th and Hope Tower.  CIM Group has also submitted plans to the Department of Building and Safety for a residential tower at the corner of 9th and Hope, although the details of that proposal remain unclear at this point in time.  It seems like new high-rises are popping up all over Downtown these days.  Perhaps the recent fuss over the neighborhood's low-rise building spree was much ado about nothing.

Some of the projects invigorating South Park.  Clockwise from the top right corner: The Bloc, 8th and Hope, 8th and Grand, 888 Olive, and a possibly outdated image of 9th and Hope.  Images from the Ratkovich Group, DTLA Rising, Carmel Partners, Martinez + Cutri and CIM Group.

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Izek Shomof Going Taller in Downtown

400 S Broadway, as it currently stands

Remember when the Downtown News reported that Izek Shomof wanted to build a 22-story, 400 unit residential tower at the southeastern corner of 4th and Broadway?  Turns out that the veteran Historic Core developer is a bit more ambitious than that.  Plans were submitted to the Department of City Planning earlier this month for the construction of a new 34-story mixed-use tower over a subterranean parking garage at 400 S Broadway.

The LA Business Journal reports (via Curbed LA) that Shomof is opting to build more parking than the city requires for this project.  While some may decry showing such deference to the automobile, this is a necessary evil for the time being, as the car will remain king in Los Angeles for the foreseeable future.  However, Shomof deserves kudos for putting said garage underground.  This adds quite a bit to the construction costs, but eliminates the need for an unsightly podium (looking at you, Vermont Towers).

Shomof's tower isn't the only proposal on the table which would raise the height profile of the Historic Core.  Last month, Joseph Hellen announced his intent to build a 40-story tower on Spring Street.  Barry Shy also plans to build a 40-story tower at the southwestern corner of 6th and Main, containing 350 residential units above a 1,200 car garage.

Proposed Mid-Wilshire Towers Coming Back from the Dead?

Wilshire Crescent Heights (L) and Wilshire Skyline (R).  Images from GMP Architects and EPT Design.

The Mid-Wilshire area has been on quite a roll in 2013.  Construction is well underway on several new mixed-use developments and the J.H. Snyder Company has announced plans for a 13-story office tower overlooking Hancock Park.  To top that, upwards of $1 billion in upgrades are potentially coming to LACMA by way of a new Motion Picture Museum (designed by Renzo Piano and Zoltan Pali) and the proposed redesign of the main campus by Peter Zumthor.

The Texas based Hanover Company may be looking to add to this momentum, as two of their long dormant proposals have recently shown their first signs of life in years.  Earlier this month, Hanover received a six year extension on their approvals for a 21-story building at the northeast corner of Wilshire and Crescent Heights.  The tower, designed by GMP Architects, would stand 255 feet tall, containing 158 residential units above nearly 7,000 square feet of ground floor commercial space.

One block west, Hanover received extended approvals in June for the Wilshire Skyline, proposed for the northwest corner of Wilshire and La Jolla.  The 16-story tower would stand 201 feet tall, comprised of 143 residences atop 4,800 square feet of ground level restaurant space.  The project was designed nearly ten years ago by Nadel Architects.

However, groundbreaking does not appear to be imminent for either tower, as construction permits have yet to be issued.  Still, it is encouraging to see more ambitious projects re-emerging as the Los Angeles economy starts getting wind back into its sails.

Monday, October 21, 2013

Hughes Apartments in Palms

Last month, we looked at a small apartment development proposed near the Expo Line's under construction Palms Station.  Now, we have renderings of the proposed building through the Serrano Development Group, the company hired as developer of the project.  The Hughes Apartments, designed by HB Architects, are scheduled for completion in October 2014.  Future residents will have to wait at least one year for convenient Metro Rail access, as the most optimistic opening date for Phase II of the Expo Line is late 2015.

Friday, October 18, 2013

Neighbors Hate Proposed West LA Mixed-User

11421 Olympic Blvd.  Image from Farhad Ashofteh via WLANC

West Los Angeles, an autocentric place where mixed-use developments were unthinkable just a few years ago, now seems to have them popping up all over the place.  The dust has started to settle over the controversial Casden West LA proposal, but another project also has the neighborhood up in arms.  Owner Daniel Saparzadeh is seeking to turn his land at 11421 Olympic Boulevard into a six-story development known as Olympic and Butler.  The building would contain 88 apartments and approximately 6,000 square feet of ground level commercial space, served by a 150 car subterranean garage.  The design comes from locally based architect Farhad Ashofteh.

Many nearby residents turned up at a West LA Neighborhood Council meeting earlier this month to voice their displeasure with the Olympic and Butler proposal.  The list of complaints includes timeless classics such as increased density, traffic, and public safety.  One audience member also noted that she and over 350 other locals had signed a petition against re-zoning this stretch of Olympic Boulevard.

With such fierce opposition, this one may have to go back to the drawing board.

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Shiny New Renderings of the Desmond Redevelopment creator Stephen Corwin recently got his hands on new renderings of the planned adaptive re-use of the former Desmond's department store warehouse in South Park.  The Los Angeles Times reports that the five-story structure was purchased by the Lincoln Property Company earlier this year, with the intention of converting the building into a mixed-use development containing creative offices, ground level commercial space and a roof top bar.  The long vacant building dates back to 1916, when it started its life as full-service dealership for the Willys-Overland Motor Company.

Head over to for additional renderings.

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

New Look for the Vibiana Lofts

The Vibiana Lofts, designed by Nadel Architects

Yesterday, the Weintraub Real Estate Group presented their revised plans for a mixed-use development adjacent to the Cathedral of St. Vibiana at a meeting of the Downtown LA Neighborhood Council's Planning and Land Use Committee.  The new plans for the Vibiana Lofts call for a nine-story structure designed by Nadel Architects.  The building will stand a maximum of 123 feet tall, containing 238 apartment units and 3,600 square feet of ground level commercial space.  The apartments would sit above a three-level, 303 stall underground parking garage.  As previously mentioned by the project's former developer, Tom Gilmore, the Vibiana Lofts are intended to be a "unified development," with the Cathedral.  This means that the two projects will share architectural features and a joint plaza to encourage pedestrian activity between the buildings.

Profile of the Vibiana Lofts seen from the south and the west.

A shared courtyard would allow pedestrian circulation between the Cathedral, the Vibiana Lofts and the Little Tokyo Library.

The new iteration of the Vibiana Lofts represents a substantial downsizing from the 41-story tower approved for the site in 2007, which was set to contain 300 residential units above a massive five-floor underground garage.  However, I imagine that many locals will applaud this revision, since a nine-story structure is much closer in scale to the existing buildings within the Historic Core.  With an attractive design and a relatively sane ratio between parking spaces and residential units (1.27:1), there isn't much to complain about here.

City Councilman Wants to Make Light Rail on the Orange Line Possible

Passengers on Metro's Orange Line buses are undoubtedly familiar with their claustrophobia inducing conditions.  While fighting for scarce leg and elbow room, many have asked "why the hell isn't this thing a train?"  Fear not, San Fernando Valley denizens: Tom LaBonge understands your plight.  The 4th District Councilman introduced a motion over the summer that would put the City of Los Angeles on the record as supporting the repeal of SB 211, the legislation passed by the State Senate in 1991 which prohibits light rail on the Orange Line's right-of-way.

This action from Councilman LaBonge comes at a time when access to rail transit has revived formerly downtrodden neighborhoods such as Hollywood and Downtown.  In the midst of Los Angeles' renewed love affair with urban rail, the San Fernando Valley has been left out of the action.  It is a sad state of affairs which has occurred due to a series of shortsighted decisions made by Los Angeles' political leadership and electorate in previous decades.  Here is a partial history, as described in Metro's Transportation Library:
The California Legislature passed a law in 1991 introduced by Alan Robbins which prohibited the use of the corridor for any form of rail transit other than a "deep bore subway located at least 25 feet below ground."  Later, Los Angeles County passed Proposition A in 1998, promoted by supervisor Zev Yaroslavsky, which prohibited Metro from using its county sales tax funding to build subways anywhere in the county.

With subway and light rail now off the table, the only option left [for Metro] to develop the transit corridor was to build a busway.
Years later, the San Fernando Valley continues to pay the price for these poor decisions.  However, with the arrival of a new generation of Angelenos that understands the benefits of public transportation, sufficient political will finally exists to correct these mistakes.  The era when the mayor would "throw himself in front of buses," to block construction of the Orange Line is long gone.  Now, we have politicians and residents alike clamoring for light rail along the Van Nuys corridor.

While the motion from Tom LaBonge will not immediately correct the problem, it is an important step which would put the political will of Los Angeles behind the push for light rail along the Chandler right-of-way.  Councilman LaBonge's motion is scheduled for discussion within the City Council's Rules, Elections and Intergovernmental Relations Committee this Friday.

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

118 Apartments Proposed Near Hollywood and Highland

1840 Highland Avenue

Lately, we've seen a lot of plans emerging for residential developments in the area to the southwest of Hollywood and Highland.  Now, lets take a look at an upcoming development located north of Hollywood Boulevard:

1840 N Highland Avenue
A new six-story, 118-unit multi-family residential building with approximately 166,000 square feet of floor area and 216 parking spaces on a 57,810 square foot site that is currently a surface parking lot and vacant.

1840 Highland Avenue, outlined in red.

1840 Highland Avenue will consist of one, two and three bedroom units, complete with outdoorsy amenities including a pool and a spa.  The project was designed by Los Angeles based Nadel Architects, who also bear responsibility for City West's Bixel and Lucas development.  In a time where so many low-rise projects seem eager to lather on stucco, 1840 Highland bucks the trend.  Architectural drawings provided to the Department of City Planning indicate that the building will be clad in metal paneling, plaster and glass.  If only more of the mixed-use projects in Downtown could get similar treatment!

As luck would have it, 1840 Highland isn't the only project looking to liven up the gateway to the Hollywood Bowl.  Curbed LA reports that a 100-room Indigo Hotel is in the works on the opposite side of Highland Avenue.

Anyway, I leave you here with some grainy, black and white eye candy.

Close up on the Las Palmas Avenue entrance of 1840 Highland

Eastern and Southern elevations of 1840 Highland.

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Amid Delays, Progress on Grand Avenue

Related California's revised plan for Phase I of the Grand Avenue Project was soundly rejected last month, but other parts of the slow moving mega development are still pressing forward.  Kitty-corner to the Phase I site, Parcels M and L have two landscape shifting projects under construction.  Work on the Arquitectonica designed Parcel M Tower, which broke ground in January, has now progressed to the lucky 13th floor.  When completed in late 2014, the $120 million development will contain 271 apartments and 5,000 square feet of commercial space within 19-stories.

Image from LargeArch

Next door to the Parcel M Tower, the $140 million Broad Museum is finally starting to resemble the renderings drawn up by Diller Scofidio + Renfro.  Construction crews are now assembling the steel framework to support the precast concrete panels that will form the Broad Museum's honeycombed exterior.  Like the Parcel M Tower, the Broad Museum is scheduled to open late in 2014.  Eli Broad recently made headlines when he declared that his museum shall have free admission.

Image from The Broad

The Broad Museum and the Parcel M Tower will be linked together by a pedestrian plaza, which brings up another interesting possibility.  The Regional Connector subway, scheduled to begin construction next year, features a station adjacent to Parcels M and L at the intersection of 2nd and Hope Streets.  However, accessing the amenities and cultural institutions on Grand Avenue from the station will require walking uphill.  Thus, Metro has drawn up a concept that mitigates this problem by connecting the aforementioned plaza directly to the station via a pedestrian bridge.

2nd/Hope Station pedestrian bridge.  Image from The Source.

While no funding is currently allocated towards the bridge, perhaps some of the institutions on Grand Avenue should consider putting money towards the project.  Related California, the Broad Museum, MOCA and the Music Center all stand to benefit from the improved transit link.  There is some precedent for this, as LACMA has expressed interest in paying for their own subway portal at the future Wilshire/Fairfax station.  Curbed LA reports that a future pedestrian bridge at the Universal City Station will cost an estimated $19.5 million.  That is not a particularly daunting figure, assuming that a bridge for the 2nd/Hope Station carries a similar price tag.

La Brea Regency Lofts Ready to Break Ground

Image from Curbed LA

Yesterday, reported that La Brea Regency, LLC had secured financing for the construction of a mixed-use development at the southeastern corner of La Brea and Hawthorn Avenues.  The five-story La Brea Regency Lofts will contain 56 residential units above 9,000 square feet of ground level commercial space.  The building shall be served by a three-level, subterranean garage with 124 parking stalls.  A quick check of the Department of Building and Safety's records indicates that construction permits were issued for the project back in August.  With the bureaucratic wrangling complete and financing officially lined up, La Brea Regency can now get shovels in the ground.

Although the La Brea Regency Lofts were first proposed in 2010, indicates that the land owners opted to delay groundbreaking in order to gauge the success of other multi-family developments in Hollywood.  One of those other developments is the pedestrian repelling Avenue Hollywood, located directly across the street.  Another future neighbor will be 7260 Hawthorn Avenue, situated three blocks to the west.

Future site of the La Brea Regency Lofts, outlined in red.

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Make Way for More Condos in Hollywood

7260 Hawthorn Avenue

Although Los Angeles' economy is still struggling to regain what was lost during the recession, the city's real estate market has been on a sharp upward trend over the past year.  With housing prices climbing, developers are beginning to think "condo," rather than "rental."  One example comes from Wiseman Development, in the form of a 4-story, 25-unit condo building at 7260 Hawthorn Avenue in Hollywood.  Documents submitted to the Department of City Planning indicate that locally based Killefer Flammang Architects are responsible for the project's design.  This would be the third Hollywood project designed by KFA, joining the proposed Hotel Selma and the Highland Selma Venture.

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Trical Construction Building More Apartments in Marina Del Rey

4108 Del Rey Avenue

Back in Marina Del Rey, developer Trical Construction is nearing completion on a 77-unit apartment complex located at 4108 Del Rey Avenue.  The five-story development, designed by Keith Dover Associates, is known as Tribeca Urban, a somewhat ironic name given the project's deliberate isolation from the street.  Tribeca Urban will consist of 1-3 bedroom apartments and provide "resort-style amenities," including a fitness center, an outdoor fireplace, and a spa.  The building is scheduled to open late this year.

Although Tribeca Urban has yet to finish construction, expansion plans already appear to be in the works.  Last month, Trical submitted plans to the Department of City Planning to add an extra 51-units next door at 4090 Del Rey Avenue as part of a "unified development project."

Monday, October 7, 2013

Metropolis Rendered in the LA Skyline

Images from Kilograph

When IDS Realty put the long stalled Metropolis development on the market earlier this year, they commissioned a series of renderings showing the approximate size and scope of the project's full build out.  The 6.3 acre site is entitled for a total of 1.65 million square feet of hotel, residential, office and retail uses divided between five towers.  The completed development would include roughly 400,000 square feet of office space and up to 1,676 hotel rooms.  Entitlements also allow for some of those hotel rooms to be replaced with as many as 555 residential units.  The towers could stand as tall as 456-feet above grade.

Viewed from across the 110 freeway.  Image from Kilograph

As reported by the LA Times, IDS recently entered into discussions with Chinese based Greenland Holdings Group about a potential purchase of the site.  The exact price of the land was unclear, but a press release from Greenland indicated that the project could cost up to $1 billion to complete.  With entitlements already in place, construction would begin relatively soon after completion of the deal.

The Metropolis project is critical to the proposed "Avenue of the Angels," which seeks to transform Francisco Street into a active pedestrian corridor linking the Financial District to the Sports and Entertainment District.  Developer AEG envisions a similar atmosphere to that of San Diego's Gaslamp Quarter, book ended by the Wilshire Grand Tower in the north and LA Live in the south.

Artists concept of the "Avenue of the Angels."  Image from Metropolis.

Sunday, October 6, 2013

UCLA Getting 6-Stories of TLC

Teaching and Learning Center of Health for Health Sciences.  All images from UCLA.

In late September, UCLA broke ground on a $120 million expansion of the David Geffen School of Medicine at the corner of Le Conte and Tiverton.  The Teaching and Learning Center for Health Sciences, which the administration gleefully refers to as TLC, will stand six-stories and span 110,000 square feet.  The project was paid for using a combination of cash reserves and philanthropic donations.  TLC will allow UCLA to consolidate a significant portion of the medical school's classroom space, which is currently spread between 11 different buildings.  It also includes teaching labs, study space, administrative offices and a clinical skills center.  The Skidmore, Owings and Merrill designed project is expected to wrap up in 2016.

Interior courtyard of TLC

View of TLC's eastern elevation

Close up on TLC's southern elevation