Monday, March 31, 2014

What To Expect from Warner Center's Rocketdyne Development

The post-Cold War exodus of Los Angeles' aerospace industry has left behind large swaths of underutilized industrial land.  Chief amongst those properties is a 47-acre parcel at the intersection of Victory Boulevard and Canoga Avenue, which was previously occupied by Rocketdyne.  Located in the heart of Warner Center, talk of development has swirled around the property since 2011.  Finally, developer Boston Global Investors tipped their hand last week.  In a Wednesday article from the Daily News, BGI announced plans for LA Warner Center, a $3 billion dollar development consisting of residential, office, retail and hotel uses.  Although exact designs and building heights have yet to be finalized, a site plan linked to BGI's website calls for multiple high-rise structures centered around a five-acre public park.  As mandated by the new Warner Center Specific Plan, the Rocketdyne project looks to encourage transit usage, pedestrian activity, and even a connection to the LA River.  Architectural firms HOK and Arup have been commissioned to design the project, which is owned by former Rocketdyne parent company, United Technologies Corporation.  The aforementioned site plan states that the anticipated development timeline for the project is 10-12 years.

Friday, March 28, 2014

Seven Stories of Mixed-Use Headed Towards Wilshire/Normandie

645 S. Ardmore Avenue

Earlier this year, the boutique Line Hotel opened up shop right above the Purple Line's Wilshire/Normandie Station.  Hopefully its windows are triple paned, because there could be construction activity on the horizon.  According to a document from the Wilshire Center Koreatown Neighborhood Council, a new residential development is planned for the land directly west of the hotel.  Rising seven stories at the intersection of Wilshire Boulevard and Ardmore Avenue, the new apartment building would consist of 268 units above a ground level garage.  The document does not provide renderings, nor does it specify whether or not the development would feature ground level retail space.  However, a case filing with LADCP links the project to Christopher Pak, a principal at the Archeon Group (Solair Wilshire, 535 Kinsley).  The property itself is listed amongst the portfolio of Jamison Services Incorporated, one of Los Angeles' largest private office landlords.  Faced with a decreased demand for traditional office space since the recession, the Koreatown-based company has recently shifted its focus towards residential development.  645 S. Ardmore joins several other apartment projects planned between Normandie and Western Avenues, including the much downsized revival of 3670 Wilshire and a 209-unit building at the intersection of Wilshire and Harvard Boulevards.

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Good Sam Expansion Still Moving Along

When we last checked in on Good Samaritan Hospital's Medical Plaza and Outpatient Pavilion, steel had barely progressed to the second level above ground.  Flash forward six months, and the frame of the 190,000 square foot structure is mostly complete.  Standing seven-stories tall, the $80 million expansion project topped out in a January ceremony.  The state-of-the-art facility will eventually house the hospital's radiology and oncology departments, in addition to an ambulatory surgery center.  Designed by Irvine-based Ware Malcomb, the expansion building will share a two-story lobby with one of the hospital's existing structures next-door.  The finished product will also include a ground floor cafe and a street facing window display focused on medical history.  Good Sam's newest wing rises at a time when the formerly derelict City West neighborhood is experiencing a flurry of renewed interest from developers.  Last February, Holland Residential opened a 210-unit apartment building one block east of new medical building.  Further west, Sonny Astani plans to break ground this year on a mixed-use development at the intersection of Wilshire Boulevard and Valencia Street.  The "New Jersey," of Downtown?  Not for much longer.

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Boyle Heights Getting More Gold Line TOD Action

Back in January, news of a supportive housing project adjacent to the Gold Line's Indiana Station was met with hostility from Boyle Heights residents.  Hopefully a proposed transit oriented development next to Soto Station will get a warmer response.  According to a recent case filing with LADCP, plans are in the works for a 64,000 square foot mixed-use structure near the intersection of 1st and Soto Streets.  Rising six stories, the project would consist of 50 residential units, 3,400 square feet of street level commercial space, and 8,500 square feet of office space on its top floor.  Residential and commercial tenants would be served by a 70-vehicle garage, most of which would be located underground.  Occupying three parcels between 2407 and 2421 E. 1st Street, the project will require the demolition of several existing residential structures, some of which date back to the late 19th century.  Although a six-story building would tower over the mostly low slung Boyle Heights neighborhood, 2407 E. 1st Street may be in store for neighbors of a similar scale in the near future.  Metro is currently soliciting bids for a mixed-use development to be built on their 1.4 acre property on the opposite side of the intersection.

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Huge Residential Development Planned for Marina Del Rey

Los Angeles County recently began pushing for a series of upgrades that would bring kitchy Marina Del Rey into the 21st century.  A large mixed-use community planned by AMLI Residential looks like it will fit in with this new, modern vision for the neighborhood.  With a cluster of five-story residential buildings, AMLI-MDR will create 585 apartment units on an L-shaped parcel at the intersection of Via Marina and Panay Way.  The new waterfront complex will replace a series of low-rise apartment and commercial structures located just south of Mother's Beach.  AMLI's project is one of several ground-up developments seeking to revamp Marina Del Rey's aging housing stock, including the Silicon Beach-friendly Shores complex which recently opened across the street.

Designed by TCA Architects, AMLI-MDR would mimic the aesthetics of a boathouse, featuring exposed rafters and large corner windows.  Buildings would be clad in a combination of fiber cement paneling, wood screen, plaster and stone.  At ground level, plans call for wide, pedestrian friendly green space to bisect the property, preserving views of the Marina and encouraging foot traffic along the waterfront.  As expected of most Southern California residential developments, AMLI-MDR seeks to blur the lines between indoors and outdoors.  All units come equipped with cable-railed balconies, supplemented by communal amenities such as outdoor pools, fireplaces, and barbeque pits.  A site plan indicates that the project will also include a small amount of retail space on the Via Marina side of the parcel.

Monday, March 24, 2014

More Apartments Underway South of Hollywood & Highland

A short walk south from Hollywood High School, the Miami-based Lennar Corporation recently started construction on a mixed-use development at 1411 N. Highland Avenue.  Built on a vacant lot between Leland Way and DeLongpre Avenue, the six-story structure will contain 76 apartment units above 2,500 square feet of ground floor commercial space.  A combination of studio, one, two and three bedroom units shall be served by 143 parking spaces, located within an 1 1/2 level underground garage.  1411 N. Highland will offer a "rooftop life style center," containing a gym, club room, and a pool deck offering views of the Hollywood Hills.  Promotional materials emphasize the building's central location (walk score of 95!), within easy reach of a variety of restaurants, stores and mass transit.  Designed by Torrance-based Withee Malcolm Architects, the low-rise structure features a white-hued exterior accented by large windows and wood paneling.  Construction is anticipated to last 20-22 months, placing the project's expected opening date in late 2015 or early 2016.  Coincidentally, Lennar's development bears a slight resemblance to the nearby Highland Selma mixed-user, a Killefer Flammang-designed project which broke ground in October 2013.

Friday, March 21, 2014

Massive Vermont Towers Finishing Up

Koreatown's Vermont Towers and their famously obtrusive parking podium are finally in the home stretch.  The mixed-use development from the J.H. Snyder Company is one of only a handful of high-rise projects to break ground in Los Angeles since the recession.  With towers of 29 and 23 stories, the Vermont adds 464 one and two bedroom units directly across the street from the bustling Wilshire/Vermont subway station.  Designed by the Venice-based Jerde Partnership, the $200 million project features residential amenities including an outdoor garden, heated swimming pool, gym and dog park with views of the Downtown skyline.  Despite its highly visible parking accommodations, the Vermont has also extended an olive branch to pedestrians.  The project has resulted in a variety of streetscape improvements along the western and northern sides of the property, including new palm trees and extra-wide sidewalks.  The towers will greet Wilshire Boulevard with a landscaped pedestrian plaza, centered around 40,000 square feet of retail space with room for a full service market.  After two years of construction, the towers are scheduled to open their doors in May of this year.  Mark it of on your calendars, everyone.

Thursday, March 20, 2014

A Closer Look at the Historic Core's 34-Story Tower

It's not everyday that Downtown's Historic Core sees the possibility of ground up construction, let alone for a high-rise.  Nevertheless, veteran developer Izek Shomof intends to construct a 34-story residential building at the intersection of 4th Street and Broadway, just one block east of the Pershing Square subway station.  Dubbed "Broadway @ 4th," the project would consist of 450 residential condominiums above approximately 7,000 square feet of ground floor retail and restaurant space.  Rising 388 feet above ground, the tower would dwarf all of its neighboring pre-war buildings.  Designed by the Spring Street-based firm of HansonLA, Broadway @ 4th would be clad in exterior materials such as terra cotta veneer, metal and cement paneling.  Due to a stipulation within the Broadway Design Overlay, the tower's mass would be set back approximately 30 feet from the street above its 11th floor.  This requirement facilitates high-rise construction along the Broadway corridor, while still maintaining the Historic Core's signature mid-rise street wall.  The podium structure would contain five levels of above-grade parking, with residential units screening the garage from view on its upper floors.  Residential amenities would be concentrated on the tower's 12th floor, with offerings including a pool, recreation room, fitness center, and sauna.

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Shiny New Rendering of South Park's Onyx Mixed-User

Courtesy of Thomas Cox Architects, feast your eyes on an updated rendering of South Park's upcoming Onyx mixed-user.  Planned by Fashion District landlord Jade Enterprises (Topaz), Onyx will rise on two surface parking lots near the intersection of Pico Boulevard and Flower Street.  The two colorful buildings will stand seven stories, combining to create 410 apartment units and over 30,000 square feet of ground floor commercial space.  Located across the street from Metro's Pico Station, the transit oriented development will contain less than half the amount of the residential and commercial parking normally required by code.  Further emphasizing the pedestrian over the automobile, vehicular access to the project's underground garage shall be routed through an alleyway on the backside of the property.  Although this blighted stretch of Pico Boulevard has spent decades as a pedestrian dead zone, Onyx is just one of several nearby projects currently in the pipeline.  Just across the street, 4D Development & Investment plans to construct a 112-unit apartment building.  One block east, the Arizona-based Wolff Company and Sonny Astani are collaborating on a 640-unit mixed-use development known as G12.

Boutique Hotel Proposed Near Hollywood/Western

While Hollywood and Vine is clearly the place to be at the moment, don't sleep on the Hollywood/Western neighborhood just down the street.  Over the weekend, the Hollywood Studio District Neighborhood Council took a look at plans for a new hotel on the vacant lot at the southwest corner of Hollywood Boulevard and St. Andrews Place.  The self-described "European Style Luxury Boutique Hotel," would rise six-stories, consisting of 80 guest rooms above a two-level, 31-car garage.  An environmentally friendly development, the hotel would contain passive solar energy features, recycled materials, low water usage fixtures, green roofs, and parking for bicycles and electric vehicles.  Catering to the "affordable luxury," market, rates would range from $180-220 per night.  The hotel would also feature a ground-floor cafe with outdoor seating along Hollywood Boulevard.

Although a controversial gentrification wave began sweeping through Hollywood after the completion of the Red Line, few large scale developments have occurred near the Hollywood/Western subway station.  Now, with fewer opportunities available near Highland Avenue and Vine Street, developers have started looking east of the 101 freeway.  A 120-unit senior housing complex opened across the street from the site of the proposed hotel back in 2012.   Local super-developer Sonny Astani has plans for an apartment-retail complex next-door to the historic Mayer Building.  Kitty-corner to the subway station, the CIM Group is well into construction on a one-story shopping center.  Further south on Western Avenue, an affordable housing project and a full-sized Target outpost are both under construction.

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Columbia Square Now Going Vertical

The Hollywood skyline was starting to get a little sparse, with construction cranes having recently disappeared at both Emerson College and Blvd 6200.  Then, along came the $380 million Columbia Square development to save the day.  While little more than a giant dirt pit at this point in time, developer Kilroy Realty will eventually turn the parcel at 6121 Sunset Boulevard into over 300,000 square feet of new Class-A office space and a 20-story residential high-rise.  Dubbed "The Residences at Columbia Square," the Rios Clementi Hale-designed tower's 200 units will be divided between luxury rentals and extended stay hotel suites.  The project also entails the adaptive re-use of Columbia Square's historic William Lescaze designed structures, which shall be repurposed as creative office and retail space.

It's difficult to imagine anyone looking at Hollywood in the 1980's and seeing the potential for luxury housing and shiny new office buildings, but here we are all the same.  Kilroy Realty is confident enough in the neighborhood's future that they recently announced plans for a second project just a few blocks away.  The West LA-based developer paid over $45 million to acquire the four acre site on Vine Street where the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences once planned to build its museum.  With the proposed museum relocated south to the LACMA campus, Kilroy will instead construct a $285 million mixed-use complex containing 220 apartments, retail and office space.

Sunday, March 16, 2014

First Look at Downtown's Upcoming Wave of Canadian Skyscrapers

Lately, the talk of the town has been the recent influx of Chinese investment into the South Park neighborhood.  How about some foreign money from closer to home?  This Tuesday, the DLANC's Planning and Land Use Committee is scheduled to take a look at multiple high-rise projects proposed by two Canadian-based developers.  The Amacon Group, which has stayed north of the border until recently, is revamping its pre-recession proposal for a mixed-use high-rise development at 1133 Hope Street.  The Onni Group, already hard at work on a 32-story tower at 888 Olive Street, has plans for two substantially more ambitious projects nearby.  The three developments would combine to create over 1,500 residential units in glassy towers that would look right at home in Vancouver or Toronto.  Of course, that's no coincidence, since all three projects were designed by Vancouver-based Chris Dikeakos Architects.  Check out the specs and some additional renderings below.

Friday, March 14, 2014

Hollywood's Earl Carroll Theatre Going Mixed-Use

UPDATE: Information supplied by Curbed LA indicates that the above rendering no longer represents the current vision for the project.  Plans now call for 200 apartments and 4,700 square feet of retail space.

Sunset Boulevard, already in the midst of a pronounced building boom, is adding yet another large scale project to the pipeline.  According to a recent case filing with the Department of City Planning, the parking lot adjacent to the historic Earl Carroll Theatre will be replaced with a new mixed-use complex.  Developed by the Palo Alto-based Essex Property Trust, the seven-story Essex Hollywood would create 217 apartment units and a whopping 51,000 square feet of ground floor retail space.  With architectural work from San Francisco-based NC2, the project is designed to both incorporate and preserve the adjacent theater complex (for more on the history of the Earl Carroll Theatre, click here).  Essex's residential-retail complex would join a host of other developments currently planned or underway near the intersection of Sunset and Vine Street.  West LA-based Kilroy Realty recently broke ground on their $380 million redevelopment of the Columbia Square campus, with plans for a second project nearby on Vine Street.  Across the street from the Essex Hollywood, developer Crescent Heights has plans for a pair of high-rise towers on the parking lot of the Hollywood Palladium.  Despite concerns about fault lines and consistent NIMBY pushback, it appears that developers are still very eager to get in on Hollywood's revival.  With so much forward momentum, you have to wonder if the Gower Gulch strip mall is living on borrowed time.

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Mini Development Boom Spawning Near Lafayette Park

Strange as it is to say, it seems like developers have recently zeroed in on the residential neighborhood south of Wilshire Boulevard's Lafayette Park.  Last month brought the news that a new 60-unit apartment building would be replacing a surface parking lot on Sunset Place.  Now, plans submitted to the city indicate that a vacant lot on 7th Street will give rise to a much larger mixed-use complex.  Located just west of Hoover Street, the new six-story building would consist of 158 apartment units above an uspecified amount of street level commercial space.  Occupying the majority of a city block, this project joins a wide variety of low-rise apartment proposals which have sprung up in the Westlake neighborhood over the past twelve months.  While building so much market rate residential in a currently low-income neighborhood may raise some eyebrows, similar developments were once a questionable proposition in Downtown.  With enviable transit access and gentrification bearing down on all sides, this could finally be Westlake's time to shine.  Other projects recently constructed nearby include Seventh & Coronado, a self described "68-unit, transit-oriented, community of affordable housing with social service space for large families."

Thursday, March 6, 2014

Whoa: New High-Rise Apartment Building Headed to West LA

Here's something you don't see everyday: something tall planned west of the 405 freeway.  According to documents just released by the Los Angeles Department of City Planning, West LA-based Douglas Emmett Inc. intends to construct a new 34-story residential tower at 11750 Wilshire Boulevard.  The Landmark Apartments, first spotted moving through LADCP last December, would rise 338 feet above ground and contain 376 one and two bedroom units.  A conceptual site plan drawn up by Gensler indicates that the apartment tower would stand on the southern side of the property, replacing a low-rise structure which previously housed a Pavilions supermarket.  In addition to the standard outdoor pool deck, residential amenities would include a lobby, lounge, fitness center, recreation room, and bicycle storage area.  The project also includes a standalone 4,700 square foot retail structure, which would directly front the corner of Wilshire and Stoner Avenue.  Although no renderings of the project are provided by the LADCP documents, the design is described as consisting of "a slim, concrete frame lined with floor-to-ceiling glazing accented by light metal and fritted glass panels."  Construction would last approximately 30 months, with completion anticipated in 2017.  Sounds awesome, so bring on the Westside NIMBY gauntlet.

Second Half of MacArthur Park TOD Finally Moving Forward

It might be a little behind schedule, but development is finally coming to K.O. the underutilized space atop the Westlake/MacArthur Park subway station.  According to a document from the Los Angeles City Council, Metro and developer McCormack Baron Salazar are gearing up to start work on the second phase of their $45 million MacArthur Park transit oriented development.  Set to rise five stories in-between Alvarado Street and Westlake Avenue, the Torti Gallas/Roschen Van Cleve-designed structure will contain 81 low-income apartments above approximately 17,000 square feet of ground floor retail space.  The highly successful phase one, which opened across the street in May 2012, received over 1,000 applications for its 92 affordable units.  Given that level of demand, it's probably safe to assume that phase two will have little trouble finding tenants.  Especially at a location which provides a front row view of MacArthur Park.  The city memo indicates that work on phase two must commence by March 24, 2014 in order to comply with affordable housing financing requirements.  In other words, Red and Purple line passengers should be on the lookout for construction fencing and heavy equipment.

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Two Crenshaw Boulevard Game Changers in One Shot

We're one month into construction on the $2 billion Crenshaw/LAX Line, and the view from Exposition Boulevard has already changed significantly.  With Earlez Grille safely relocated two blocks south, the low-rise commercial structures which previously stood next to Expo/Crenshaw Station are no more.  By 2020, this now vacant lot will sit above the northern terminus of Metro's newest light rail line.  Set to add 8.5 miles of track and seven new stations to the Metro Rail network, long term plans call for extensions of the Crenshaw Line to Wilshire Boulevard and even as far north as Hollywood.  But that kind of talk is putting the cart way before the horse.

In the background of the above picture, green construction fencing is visible surrounding the future site of District Square.  The 300,000 square foot shopping center, designed by the Irvine-based KTGY Group, will bring a variety of large chain retailers to the Crenshaw neighborhood.  While perhaps not the ideal development for a parcel near the intersection of two rail lines, District Square is certainly an improvement upon the strip mall that it replaces.  Pedestrian friendly, street fronting buildings beat acres of surface parking any day of the week.

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Palms' Motor Avenue Apartments Take Form

Check out some grainy cell phone pictures from a rainy afternoon in Palms.  The aptly named Motor Avenue Apartments, which broke ground just over one year ago, now rises five stories north of Palms Boulevard.  The $30 million project from locally-based Frost/Chaddock Developers includes 115 apartment units above ground level retail space.  The building's street-facing urban window provides a glimpse into an internal courtyard, while a rooftop atrium offers residents sweeping views of the Los Angeles basin.  Designed by Santa Monica's Killefer Flammang Architects, 3425 Motor Avenue stands in stark contrast to Palms' almost limitless stock of low-rise, stucco-clad residential buildings.  One of those stucco-clad neighbors is Palms Point, the fascinatingly ugly mixed-use project which recently opened across the street.  Taking the name "Motor Avenue," to heart, almost half of the building appears to be devoted to automobile parking.  We'll have to take the good with the bad, as developers look to cash in on the coming Expo Line station located a quarter-mile northeast.  When Palms Station opens in approximately two years, residents of the Westside's most densely populated neighborhood will have destinations such as Santa Monica, USC and Downtown LA just a short train ride away.

Saturday, March 1, 2014

Village at Westfield Topanga Ditches Hotel Tower...For Now

The controversial Village at Westfield Topanga, scourge of neighbors and Southern California taxpayer advocates alike, is shrinking.  According to an economic feasibility study commissioned by the LA City Council, the Australian mall developer has dropped its plans for a hotel as part of the first phase of their Warner Center mega-project.  The hotel, which Westfield may still pursue at a later date, would have risen 16-stories from the intersection of Topanga Canyon Boulevard and Erwin Street.  The Daily News reports that it had been envisioned as a 158-room Hyatt.  However, it's not all bad news coming out of the West Valley.  As an olive branch to the neighbors, City Hall and the Westfield Group have carefully negotiated a community benefits package to be included with the project.  These amenities include $3.325 million trust fund, a new location for the Valley's "Walk of Hearts," event, digital signage and public art.

Predictably, the feasibility study states that the amount of parking has decreased with the reduction of the hotel tower.  However, the report hints that the street fronting surface parking seen in renderings will still be part of the project.  Certainly a huge urban design flaw for Warner Center, which purportedly aims to be a "pedestrian and transit focused community."  The feasibility study also announces that the Village will implement a paid parking program, expected to generate over $2 million per year in revenue.  While parking fees have become the norm at other Southern California shopping centers (like Westfield's flagship Century City location), few malls in the San Fernando Valley have implemented such a program until now.  Regardless of these changes, the project is still moving forward, with permits for the controversial Costco outpost currently in the works.