Friday, May 30, 2014

Sony Picture Studios Adding New Office and Production Facilities

Sony Picture Studios.  A proposed office building would rise on the left hand side of the above image.  Image credit: Wikimedia Commons

Fresh off a demoralizing round of layoffs in March, Sony Pictures Entertainment is roaring back with a vengeance.  According to a notice recently distributed by Culver City's Planning Commission, the film and entertainment giant is seeking approval for an expansion project that would add new office and production facilities to its historic Washington Boulevard studio complex.  The first aspect of the project, a 218,000 square foot office and support building, would rise eight stories, replacing a current surface parking lot next to Sony Picture Studios' Overland Avenue entrance.

Additionally, Sony plans to demolish a group of low-rise storage buildings, making way for a new, 52,000 square foot production services facility.  The new building would rise directly north of a four-story office structure that is currently under construction near the campus' Mentone Avenue gate.  To serve these new facilities, Sony also proposes capital improvements to the complex's Culver Boulevard parking garage.  Plans call for expansions on its east and west sides, plus the extension of its sixth level, resulting in a net increase of 1,328 parking stalls.

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Brooks + Scarpa Designed Affordable Housing Breaks Ground

Image credit: Skid Row Housing Trust

According to a Facebook post from earlier this month, the Skid Row Housing Trust has broken ground on the Six Apartments, a new 52-unit affordable housing complex in the Westlake neighborhood.  Keeping in trend with several of SRHT's other recent developments, the project packs quite a bit of architectural punch.  Designed by Brooks + Scarpa Architects, renderings portray a white hued low-rise structure, featuring a street facing urban window and lush ground level landscaping.  Located at 811 South Carondolet Street, the wood-framed apartments would rise five-stories above a first floor parking garage.  A document from the California State Treasurer's Office indicates that the Six would feature a mixture of studio and one bedroom units.  The project, which will cater to veterans and chronically homeless persons, is scheduled for full occupancy in October 2015.

Although most of their portfolio consists of adaptive reuse projects, SRHT has ventured into ground up construction in recent years.  The Downtown-based nonprofit frequently collaborates with architect Michael Maltzan, with previous efforts including the critically acclaimed Star Apartments.  SRHT is also in the midst of construction on the New Pershing Hotel Apartments, a project which converts one of Downtown Los Angeles' last remaining Victorian structures into 69 units of affordable housing.

Freeway Adjacent Hotels Open in Redondo Beach

Nine months after we last stopped by, Redondo Beach's new Marine Avenue hotels are open for business.  Consisting of a 147-room Hilton Garden Inn and a 172-room Marriott Residence Inn, the low-rise structures were developed by TRCF Redondo, a Utah-based limited liability corporation.  Designed by the Denver-based Allred Architectural Group, the project occupies the former site of miniature golf course, and lies directly in-between the 405 Freeway and the Harbor Subdivision rail right-of-way.  Although the current surroundings (suburban office parks and car dealerships) may be underwhelming, the hotels will likely benefit from their transit adjacency and close proximity to LAX.  Located one block east of the western terminus of Metro's Green Line, Aviation/LAX Station lies just a five minute train ride away.  If LAWA can get their act together with its automated people mover, guests could even have an (almost) straight shot into the central terminal area.

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Howard Hughes Center Expansion Back on Track

Image credit: Curbed LA

After years of delays, long awaited plans to add hundreds of residential units to Westchester's Howard Hughes Center are finally moving forward.  Earlier this year, ground was broken on a new apartment complex, located on a formerly vacant lot at 6040 Center Drive.  Rising six stories, the building will contain 218 apartment dwellings above two levels of underground parking.  Permit filings from the Los Angeles Department of Building and Safety indicate that a second six-story residential complex is also planned across the street at 5900 Center Drive.  That building would be slightly larger in scale, consisting of 327 apartments in addition to underground parking accommodations.  Both residential structures would lie within walking distance of the Promenade at Howard Hughes Center, a two-level outdoor mall anchored by a luxury theater outpost.

6040 W. Center Drive

Monday, May 26, 2014

New Pershing Apartments Begin to Take Form

More than one year after plans were announced to convert Downtown's Pershing Hotel into affordable housing, little remains of the 125 year old structure beyond its Victorian facade.  The approximately $15 million project, developed by the Skid Row Housing Trust, will eventually consist of 69 studio and one bedroom units, ranging from 350 - 500 square feet.  Designed by Killefer Flammang Architects, the New Pershing Hotel Apartments will rise five stories, with upper floors set back from the historic facade.  The desperately needed affordable housing complex will also activate its ground level with retail space and social service offices.  Residential amenities include a landscaped central courtyard and a community room with a kitchen.  Information displayed by the website of contractor Westport Construction indicates that the apartments are scheduled to open their doors this November.  The project is located opposite 5th Street from the New Genesis Apartments, another collaboration between KFA and SRHT which opened in 2012.

Image credit: Killefer Flammang Architects via Westport Construction Inc.

Sunday, May 25, 2014

Two Residential-Retail Complexes Start Work in Westlake

After more than a year of inactivity, mixed-use construction is finally returning to City West.  In the shadow of Good Samaritan Hospital, two developers are now in the midst of site preparation for a pair of residential complexes that will infuse the Westlake neighborhood with more than 800 new market rate apartment units.

On a 4.1 acre property immediately northeast of the hospital, the Vancouver-based Holland Partner Group recently commenced work on a long delayed $125 million mixed-use development.  Known as the Bixel and Lucas project, plans call for a low-rise development with 648 residential units and 40,000 square feet of ground floor commercial space.  According designs drawn up in 2011, the project will consist of two phases, the first of which entails the conversion of a vacant eight-story office building at 1136 W. 6th Street into 42 apartments.  The second stage, which consists of approximately 600 residential units, calls for the construction of a new, six-story building that would occupy most of the project site.  Residential amenities would include a landscaped interior courtyard, recreation room, dog run, and parking accommodations for 762 vehicles.  As part of a density bonus granted by the city, Bixel and Lucas shall reserve 30 of its residential units very low income households.  The almost 925,000 square foot development comes on the heels of 1111 Wilshire, a significantly smaller building opened by HPG in early 2013.  Bixel and Lucas, like 1111 Wilshire, features a colorful facade designed by Nadel Architects.

Image credit: Nadel Architects

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Proposal Would Stack Apartments Above K-Town Parking Garage

In packed urban environments such as Koreatown, the lack of easily buildable land often forces new developments to take creative measures.  Case in point: the nondescript parking garage at the northeast corner of 6th Street and Kenmore Avenue.  Already stuffed to the brim with ground floor commercial tenants, a developer now plans to construct additional floors atop the existing four-story structure, creating 53 apartment dwellings.  The new residential community proposes a variety of open space amenities, including a rec-room, community room, and courtyards for each additional floor.  Located at 3419 W. 6th Street, the project site sits in a dense, walkable neighborhood which has recently experienced an uptick in development activity.  Nearby on Catalina Avenue, plans for a low-rise apartment/hotel development known as "the Nest." are currently wending their way through the approval process.  South of Wilshire Boulevard, developer Century West Partners is in the midst of construction on the three building, 476-unit K2LA development.  All of these projects lie within a ten minute walk of both the Wilshire/Vermont and Wilshire/Normandie Metro stations, providing quick subway rides to Downtown, North Hollywood and all destinations in-between.

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Office Space and Small Lot Homes Proposed Near Sunset/Western

While Hollywood NIMBYs continue with their puzzling effort to defeat the half-complete Sunset/Western Target, plans have emerged for a new redevelopment scheme almost directly across the street.  An approximately 3.5-acre property at 1350 N. Western Avenue, currently home to a cluster of low-rise commercial buildings, may be demolished to make way for a new mixed-use complex.  Although exact plans are currently unclear, the project's LADCP case filing calls for an undetermined amount of commercial and office space, in addition to a 52-unit small lot subdivision.  Construction of the project would first require the rezoning of the property, which is currently designated for use as a film processing lab.

The proposed mixed-use complex is representative of the recent uptick in development on the eastern reaches of the Hollywood neighborhood.  As easy opportunities have become fewer and further in-between near subway stations on Highland Avenue and Vine Street, red headed stepchild Western Avenue has suddenly found itself aflood with investment activity.  A few blocks north, developer Sonny Astani is planning a residential-retail development, while another investor has proposed a boutique hotel.  On the opposite side of the Hollywood Freeway, Sunset Bronson Studios is scheduled to begin a $150 million expansion later this year which will include a 14-story office tower.

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Another Low-Rise Apartment Building Headed to South Park

Image credit: Driver Urban

If you count yourself as an opponent of South Park's boxy, wood-framed building spree, read no further than this sentence.  According to plans filed earlier this month with LADCP, yet another residential-retail complex is proposed across the street from the LA Convention Center.  Located at 1400 South Figueroa Street, the project's case filing calls for a seven-story structure, containing 106 dwelling units above street level commercial space.  Additionally, the low-rise development would offer a subterranean parking garage and an unspecified amount of live-work units.  The project site, currently a surface parking lot, sits directly in-between phases one and two of Avant, a partially complete 440-unit development from Century West Partners.  Phase one, which opened this month, consists of 247 apartments and 11,000 square feet of ground floor retail and restaurant space.  Phase two, currently under construction at 1500 Figueroa Street, will create an additional 193 residential units.

Monday, May 19, 2014

Affordable Housing Complex Starts Work on Vermont Avenue

Image credit: Dreyfuss Construction

According to pictures sent in by an e-mail tipster, a small church near the border of Koreatown and Pico Union was recently demolished, making way for a 40-unit affordable housing development known as Vermont Manzanita.  The apartment complex is being developed by the West Hollywood Community Housing Corporation (WHCHC), and will reserve fifteen of its units for at-risk families with children under the age of five.  The developer has partnered with the Children's Institute, which shall act as lead service provider for future tenants.  Plans call for a five-story edifice, designed by Hatch Colasuonno Studio, featuring first-and-second-floor landscaping, a children's play area, a barbeque pit, and a tenant community garden.  Located at 1233 South Vermont Avenue, Vermont Manzanita is WHCHC's second project within Los Angeles city limits.

Founded in 1986, WHCHC can claim a portfolio of more than one dozen affordable housing communities throughout the greater Los Angeles region.  Although they primarily focus on properties in West Hollywood, WHCHC has previously undertaken developments in Glendale and East Los Angeles.  Perhaps their most visible project is the Patrick Tighe-designed Courtyard at La Brea, a five-story structure located on Santa Monica Boulevard.

Saturday, May 17, 2014

Two Civic Center Projects Making Progress

Construction on Downtown's $400 million Federal Courthouse has moved at a leisurely pace since work commenced in August 2013.  Now, with the arrival of a tower crane at 1st Street and Broadway, the long awaited Civic Center mega-project is finally going vertical.  Scheduled to open in 2016, the project comprises 600,000 square feet of floor area, calling for 24 courtrooms and 32 judge's chambers.  Designed by SOM, the 10-story mid-rise is commonly referred to as "the Cube," due to its stout, boxy profile.  The courthouse, first proposed in 2001, navigated a long series of obstacles on the way to its groundbreaking ceremony last year.  Originally envisioned as a 17-story, 41-room facility, the project stalled out in 2006 amidst skyrocketing costs and chronic delays.  After the proposal was revived in 2011, it was met with further opposition from Republican members of California's Congressional delegation, who pushed for the Federal Government to sell the 3.6 acre property to a private developer.  However, the GSA and local Congressional representatives held firm, allowing for the long stalled Courthouse to finally inch toward reality.

Image credit: SOM

Friday, May 16, 2014

Plans Emerge for New Apartments in Little Osaka

West LA's Sawtelle District, commonly referred to as Little Osaka, may be getting a new residential complex in the near future.  Next week, the Los Angeles City Planning Commission is scheduled to review plans for the Notting Hill Apartments, a 52-unit development proposed for the southeast corner of Sawtelle Boulevard and Missouri Avenue.  Designed by Newport Beach's MJS Design Group, the 38,000 square foot building would rise five stories, featuring multiple outdoor common areas and a three level underground parking garage.  Although developer Notting Hill, LLC initially proposed a six-story structure with just over 3,000 square feet of commercial space, plans were altered due to traffic concerns voiced by neighborhood stakeholders.  Instead, designs now call for a shorter project with nine live-work units, to be located at ground level on both the Missouri Avenue and Sawtelle Boulevard sides of the property.  As part of a density bonus, the Notting Hill Apartments will also offer five apartments restricted to very low income individuals.  The project site is currently developed with a cluster of one-story buildings, formerly home to the Harada Nursery, a defunct Japanese-American business founded shortly after World War II.

Thursday, May 15, 2014

Mixed-Use Dreams for Blue Line Adjacent Parcels

South of the Downtown freeway ring, blighted properties flanking the light rail Blue Line are beginning to catch overflow from South Park's recent development binge.  Renderings were unveiled last year for the Grand Metropolitan, a proposed residential-retail complex near LATTC.  Now, a document from the Los Angeles City Council indicates that development may also be coming for a cluster of parcels adjacent to the Reef Building, a 12-story structure located at 1933 S. Broadway.  The owners of the Reef Building, which is alternatively known as the LA Mart, have requested a general plan amendment that would allow them to both retain the mid-rise tower and construct a mixed-use development on the surrounding 7.5 acre parking lots.  According to the Los Angeles Times, the parking lots and the mid-century tower are both the property of PRH LA, a Glendale-based limited liability corporation which paid roughly $55 million for the land in 2012.  Their exact plans for the parcels are currently unclear, although most recent developments in the neighborhood have been multi-family residential buildings.  A half-mile west, developer G.H. Palmer Associates is nearing completion on the Lorenzo, a 910-unit apartment complex located next to the Expo Line's 23rd Street Station.

Monday, May 12, 2014

LA City Council to Explore Elimination of Rooftop Helipad Ordinance

Image credit: AC Martin Partners via the Architect's Newspaper

Newly instituted changes to Los Angeles' fire code have finally opened the door for iconic high-rise architecture, allowing for case-by-case exceptions to the onerous rooftop helipad mandate that has shaped the city's boxy, flat-topped skyline.  The first beneficiary of this rule change, Korean Airlines' 73-story Wilshire Grand Tower, is slated to become the West Coast's tallest building, featuring a dramatic spire that stretches 1,100 feet into the sky.  Now, a City Council motion introduced by Councilmember Jose Huizar seeks to break down additional barriers, calling on the Los Angeles Fire Department to evaluate whether or not the city's 40-year-old rooftop helipad ordinance is truly necessary.

Noting that Los Angeles is currently the only major American city with such a requirement for its high-rise buildings, the motion directs LAFD to draft a report that would determine if the rooftop helipad ordinance remains necessary in an era of improved construction technology and safety measures.  By reviewing the "codes, standards, best practices and regulations implemented in other large cities," LAFD could recommend changes or alternatives to current regulations that would facilitate architectural rooftops without compromising safety.

Playa Del Oro West Topped Out, Opening in Fall

Less than one mile north of LAX, developer Decron Properties is pushing towards the finish line on a $105 million mixed-use development.  Playa Del Oro West, consisting of 260 luxury apartments and 5,000 square feet of ground floor commercial space, is topped out at 7270 Manchester Avenue, replacing a formerly vacant lot one block west of Lincoln Boulevard.  Designed by Van Tilburg, Banyard & Soderbergh (Picasso Brentwood, 3670 Wilshire), the seven-story structure will be clad in exterior materials including cement plaster and stone veneer.  The building will include a wide range of residential amenities, including a rooftop sky lounge, lap pool, gym, game room, business center, dog park and a 515-car underground garage.  The project is located in a highly walkable section of the Westchester neighborhood, with a variety of stores, restaurants and markets located nearby.  Several of those establishments occupy the ground floor of Playa Del Oro's first phase, a 405-unit complex which Decron Properties opened in 2009.  Promotional materials state that the second and final phase will open this Fall.

Friday, May 9, 2014

888 Olive Street Now 27 Stories High

When we last stopped by 888 Olive Street in September 2013, construction on the Onni Group's 32-story mixed-use development had only progressed to the third level above ground.  Fast forward to mid-2014, and the building has already become a dominant presence in South Park, rising 27 stories above the intersection of 9th and Olive Streets.  Expected to open in early 2015, the tower will offer 283 luxury apartment dwellings and 11,000 square feet of street level retail and restaurant space.  Despite a plethora of residential developments currently underway in Downtown Los Angeles, 888 Olive Street remains one of the neighborhood's few high-rise bright spots.  However, the Onni Group's $100 million project may be just the first of several glassy towers to spring up in South Park over the next few years.  In March, Onni revealed plans for a 50-story skyscraper to be located on an adjacent parcel to 888 Olive Street.  One block north, San Francisco-based Carmel Partners proposes a 27-story tower near their future G8 apartment complex.  A short walk west, CIM Group unexpectedly started work last month on the parking garage of a proposed 33-story tower at the corner of 9th and Hope Streets.

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Kaiser Permanente's New Baldwin Hills Outpatient Facility Revealed

From the ashes of blighted Marlton Square rises a new medical office building, courtesy of healthcare giant Kaiser Permanente.  Two years ago, the Oakland-based nonprofit announced plans to construct a new outpatient facility on an 8.6 acre parcel near the intersection of Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard and Marlton Avenue.  Now, an environmental report just released by LADCP has finally revealed all of the juicy details.  Known by the glamorous title of "Kaiser Permanente Outpatient Medical Facility - Baldwin Hills MOB," the project offers a four-story, 105,000 square foot building, surrounded by surface parking lots and a landscaped central plaza.  The plaza, which will be open to the public, allows for cut-through pedestrian traffic between the Baldwin Hills Crenshaw Plaza shopping mall and the residential neighborhood to the west.

Designed by HOK, the project will utilize a variety of environmentally friendly measures in an effort to obtain either LEED Gold or LEED Platinum Certification.  The outpatient facility will incorporate solar panels in several areas throughout the project site, including its parking lots and the central plaza area.  Most notably, the building will employ a photovoltaic canopy as part of an architectural rooftop feature.  Other exterior materials include include metal panels, perforated metal screens and spandrel glazing.

The new medical offices will rise on a site once occupied by Marlton Square (a.k.a. Santa Barbara Plaza), a long dilapidated shopping complex which was demolished in 2011.  With the new Crenshaw/MLK subway station slated to open one block east in 2019, it appears that Kaiser's timing may be just right.  Per the environmental report, a full buildout of the outpatient facility is anticipated sometime in 2016, following a 16 month construction timeline which should begin later this year.

Concrete Rises for the Platform at Culver City

While foundation work for Access Culver City moves slower than molasses, the Runyon Group is making quick work of their mixed-use development across the street.  The Platform at Culver City broke ground in November 2013, and is slated to offer more than 80,000 square feet of high end retail, destination restaurants, and creative office space when complete.  Designed by Abramson Teiger Architects, the project entails several new buildings, in addition to the adaptive reuse of two existing low-rise structures.  In the upper right hand corner of the above image, we see the beginnings of the Washington Arts Building, a five-story edifice which will feature parking, art lofts and street level commercial space.  The dirt lot under excavation at center left will make way for Boxcar, a modular four-story office building above two signature restaurants.  Just south of Boxcar, the Landmark Repair Shop repurposes a former auto repair building into additional restaurant space.  Platform is rounded out by two additional buildings, located out of frame to the left, and a landscaped central courtyard known as the Conservatory.  A significantly larger development from Lowe Enterprises is also planned for the opposite side of Washington Boulevard, to be located on Culver City Station's current park-and-ride lot.

Monday, May 5, 2014

Mixed-Use Oliver Apartments Rise in Culver City

While Canadian developers are planning skyscrapers for Downtown Los Angeles, development schemes are a little more subdued on the low-slung Westside.  Out in Culver City, the Vancouver-based Bastion Development Corporation is midway through construction on the Oliver Apartments, a mixed-use complex featuring 30 residential units and roughly 8,700 square feet of ground floor retail space.  Renderings of the project portray a modern, four-story structure, accented with wood paneling and large street level windows.  An earlier design for the Oliver featured multiple lime green flourishes along the building's southern facade.  Luckily, it appears that non-colorblind decision makers prevailed here.  Bastion's apartment project is a rare site along this stretch of Washington Boulevard, which is a late comer to the mixed-use party.  However, the Oliver may soon be joined by a larger, five-story development across the street.  That project, which would straddle the Los Angeles/Culver City border, proposes 97 residential units and 15,000 square feet of ground floor commercial space.

Image credit: Frymer Construction

Thursday, May 1, 2014

LA City Councilmembers Want Blue Line Extension to San Pedro

A Long Beach-bound Blue Line Train.  Image Credit: Los Angeles Times

Despite being home to the United States' busiest container port, the waterfront community of San Pedro has long been isolated from Los Angeles County's Metro Rail network.  Two members of the LA City Council are trying to change that.  Yesterday, Councilmemembers Tom LaBonge (4th District) and Jose Buscaino (15th District) introduced a motion which requests that Metro report on the feasibility of a new light rail line connecting the Wilmington/San Pedro area to the Blue Line.  Known as the Harbor Line, the expansion concept has existed for well over two decades, appearing in several past visions of the Metro Rail system.  Although there are no immediate plans or funding available to construct the Harbor Line, the project could be incorporated into a future transportation ballot measure.  Notably, the light rail line was included in transit advocacy group MoveLA's "strawman," proposal for Measure R2.  In MoveLA's tentative plan, the Harbor Line would function as an extension of the Green and Crenshaw Lines, running south towards Wilmington before turning east to meet the Blue Line in Long Beach.

Mixed-Use Affordable Housing Headed Towards Expo/Vermont

Image Credti: Abode Communities and T.R.U.S.T. South LA

Although Metro's Expo Line has experienced no lack of proposed office, residential, hotel and retail developments near its Westside stations, investment has noticeably lagged in-between Culver City and Downtown LA.  Well get ready South Los Angeles: Expo/Vermont Station is finally getting some much needed TOD action.  Non-profit organizations T.R.U.S.T. South LA and Abode Communities are partnering on the redevelopment of Rolland Curtis Gardens, a 48-unit affordable housing complex located one block west of Vermont Avenue.  According to an environmental report just released by the city, plans call for the demolition of Rolland Curtis' existing buildings, followed by the two-phased construction of a mixed-use development with 140 affordable residential units and 8,000 square feet of ground floor commercial space.

Residential structures would rise five stories, flanking the southern and western sides of the project site.  Apartments are centered around a grassy courtyard which would serve as both gathering space and a children's play area (see after the jump).  The project also includes multiple community rooms, on-site laundry facilities and parking for 114 vehicles and 154 bicycles.

Commercial space would consist of a one story building stretching along Exposition Boulevard, with proposed uses including a community serving health clinic, non-profit office space, and perhaps some small business retail.  Plans also call for a small amount of surface parking for bikes and cars in the rear of the retail structure.  Buildings would be clad with materials including plaster, smooth finish concrete and metal siding.

According to a document created by the developers, the Rolland Curtis redevelopment is scheduled to begin construction in December 2015, with full occupancy expected in November 2017.  T.R.U.S.T. South LA and Abode Communities shaped the project with input from the community on a variety of subjects, including potential retail tenants, urban design, and architecture.