Monday, January 6, 2014

Greenland Group Gets Serious about Metropolis

The Metropolis site, seen from the intersection of James M Wood Boulevard and Francisco Street.

When the Shanghai based Greenland Group announced their intent to purchase the long delayed Metropolis development in June 2013, many details from the press release were muddled in the Mandarin-to-English translation.  IDS Realty quickly stepped in to put the kibosh on the rumored sales price of $1 billion, but all parties involved have remained adamant that the project would be going vertical as soon as possible.  It appears that the Chinese developer remains true to its word, with the project's first buildings set to be a 19-story hotel at 899 Francisco Street and a 38-story apartment tower next door at 889 Francisco.  According to permits filed with LADBS, the hotel's guest rooms would rise above a four-story podium containing event, retail and restaurant space.  The residential building would contain 290 units, stacked atop a four-story parking garage.  Both towers would also feature two levels of subterranean parking.

Curbed LA recently caused a stir when they provided renderings of two Gensler-designed Metropolis towers via structural engineering firm Saiful Bouquet.  Although those renderings have been verified as outdated, they do hint at the the intended scope of the project.  While perhaps not as grand in scale as some of the Greenland Group's developments across the Pacific, the first phase of Metropolis will still make a noticeable impact on the Downtown skyline.  On the other hand, Gensler has their work cut out for them at ground level.  Isolated from the activity of LA Live and sandwiched between the 110 freeway and series of parking garages, the Metropolis site does not easily lend itself towards pedestrian activity.  That doesn't bode well for the effort to transform Francisco Street into Downtown LA's wannabe French Quarter.


  1. Not to mention, there's a busy off-ramp from the 110 onto 9th St that sends cars hurtling towards a pedestrian crosswalk. On a side note, if the city had a magic wand, I'd propose putting that section of the 110 underground -- e.g. like Boston's "big dig".

    1. Yeah, that off-ramp will probably be a big pedestrian hazard once the Metropolis buildings actually start opening. Not much you can do about that, or about the east side of Franciso Street. Hopefully Greenland/Gensler opts to route pedestrian traffic through the center of the property. Francisco Street is probably a lost cause for the foreseeasble future.