Thursday, July 31, 2014

Another Big Development Proposed Near Sunset Junction

If any Los Feliz/Silver Lake denizens already feel overwhelmed by the area's upcoming development boom, please read no further.  According to a recent LADCP case filing, the property located at the northeast corner of Sunset and Hollywood Boulevards is destined for a new residential-retail complex.  The project is described as an approximately 217,000 square foot structure, featuring 202 dwelling units and just shy of 15,000 square feet of retail and restaurant space.  The new development would occupy a full city block, bounded by Sunset and Hollywood Boulevards and Hillhurst and Clayton Avenues.

Located a quarter-mile east of the Sunset/Vermont Red Line Station, the project site lies within easy walking distance of several proposed mixed-use developments along the rapidly evolving Sunset corridor.  Directly across the Hillhurst Avenue, plans for a 17-room hotel next to the Vista Theater have drawn out locals bearing pitchforks.  Further south along the boulevard, locally-based Frost/Chaddock Developers intends to construct a trio of Killefer Flammang-designed apartment complexes.  As seems to be the case with most developments north of Downtown, several vocal neighbors are unhappy with all of the above.

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

A Blurry First Look at the Arts District's 950 Third

Image credit:

Thanks to CityGrows, take a first look at 950 Third, the mixed-use development slated for the vacant lot adjacent to SCI-Arc.  The low-rise project - originally slated to break ground this summer - is being developed by a team consisting of Ohio-based Associated Estates Realty and Glendale-based Legendary Development.  Renderings from Kava Massih Architects portray multiple brick-clad structures, standing between five and six stories in height.  Residential buildings would contain a total of 472 apartments, centered around a 922-vehicle parking garage.  The developers intend to mitigate the project's sprawling footprint by creating a new road through the the property.

Although the empty, 5.6-acre lot represents a major hole in the northern Arts District, some residents have expressed discontent with the the proposed residential-retail development.  In an open letter to City Councilman Jose Huizar, CityGrows creator Stephen Corwin blasted the project's design as " and uninviting."  He further notes that the project's copious parking accommodations - nearly double what is required by code - run counter to City Hall's effort to build a more walkable, sustainable Los Angeles.

Past development schemes at 950 East 3rd Street have also been met with criticism.  Nearly a decade ago, Downtown-based Meruelo Maddux Properties (since rebranded as EVOQ Properties) proposed two 40-story condo towers for the lot.  Arts District residents staunchly opposed that plan, which was deemed to be out of character with the surrounding neighborhood.  Legendary Development experienced similar difficulties with their first attempt at the project two years ago, producing a design that was described to the Downtown News as "banal [and] boring."

32-Story Tower Planned for Hill Street

Last summer, SB Properties overlord Barry Shy announced bold plans for a slew of new projects that would erect high-rise towers in and around Downtown's Historic Core.  Earlier this month, the veteran developer officially put words into action, submitting plans for a 32-story condominium tower on a parking lot behind Broadway's popular Ace Hotel.  Located at 920 South Hill Street, the building would contain 239 residential units, ground level commercial stalls and a parking garage.  Shy has commissioned locally-based David Takacs Architecture to design the project, in addition to his other proposed towers on Broadway and Main Street.

Although currently light on foot traffic, a litany of apartment-retail developments are slated to bring thousands of new residents to the blocks surrounding the proposed tower in the coming years.  The half-acre project site sits directly across the street from the Hanover Company's Olympic & Hill apartments, which will be accompanied by three similarly-sized developments on adjacent properties.  One block northwest, Vancouver's Onni Group is building a 32-story residential tower at 888 Olive Street.  On the eastern side of the Ace Hotel, developer G.H. Palmer intends to construct a mid-rise and low-rise complex on current parking lots.

Monday, July 28, 2014

Mini Mixed-User Headed to San Pedro's Future Great Street

According to plans filed with the city earlier this month, a small mixed-use development is headed to a .3-acre property in San Pedro, located just a short walk from Bandini Canyon Park.  The new low-rise building would emerge from a currently vacant lot at 335 North Gaffey Street, consisting of 30 apartment units above street-level commercial space.  Although current neighbors include an auto-oriented mixture of strip malls and drive-thru restaurants, the proposed residential-retail complex would likely benefit from Gaffey Street's selection in Mayor Eric Garcetti's Great Streets Initiative.  Planned improvements under the initiative include new plazas, parklets, and landscaping, focused on a one mile stretch between the southern terminus of the Harbor Freeway and 13th Street.

Saturday, July 26, 2014

Hollywood's Metropolitan West Apartments Finally Begin Work

Sunset Boulevard's recent building boom continues its eastward march, as a long-delayed apartment project gets underway near the Hollywood freeway.  Cornerstone Holdings, a Colorado-based limited liability corporation, recently broke ground on the long-proposed Metropolitan West Apartments.  Located at 5837 Sunset Boulevard, plans call for a six-story building containing 79 studio, one and two bedroom apartments above a two-and-a-half level parking garage.  LADCP documents indicate that residential amenities will include a fitness center, private internet cafe, rooftop terrace, landscaped courtyard and a swimming pool.

Designed by Van Tilburg, Banyard & Soderbergh Architects, the low-rise development is considered an expansion of the Metropolitan Hollywood, an adjacent office-residential complex also owned by Cornerstone Holdings.  First opened as a hotel in 1984, the Metropolitan Hollywood was reportedly "terrorized," by a who's who of West Coast rappers and record executives in the early 1990s.  Almost two decades later, a now-defunct developer converted the 12-story tower and an accompanying u-shaped structure into 52 apartments and 40,000 square feet of creative office space.

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Construction Crane Arrives at Blossom Plaza

After a half-year of excavation (and finding the Zanja Madre in the process), developer Forest City is now ready to go vertical in Chinatown.  Earlier this month, a tower crane sprouted at Blossom Plaza, the once-stalled residential-retail complex that will sit adjacent to the Gold Line's elevated Chinatown Station.  Rising five stories, the Johnson Fain-designed project will feature 237 apartment units, 20,000 square feet of street-level commercial space and a 449-stall parking garage.  Renderings show a retail paseo bisecting the $100 million development, feeding directly into a public plaza at the foot of the neighboring light rail station.

Several nearby properties are also the sites of proposed or under-construction projects, as Chinatown plays catch-up to the rest of Downtown's development scene.  A short walk north, construction is underway on a $20 million remodel of the 34-acre Los Angeles State Historic Park.  On a vacant lot across Spring Street, developer EVOQ Properties plans an ambitious project that could yield twin high-rise towers.  These developments come on the heels of earlier improvements, including the Metro at Chinatown Senior Lofts and the recently-opened Jia Apartments.

In addition to Blossom Plaza, Forest City harbors ambitions inside the Central City freeway loop.  This past April, the Cleveland-based developer revealed plans for two low-rise developments along the Broadway corridor.  Designed by Harley Ellis Devereaux, the two buildings would comprise 391 apartment units and roughly 16,000 square feet of ground floor retail and restaurant space.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

New Park to Start Construction Near Ballona Creek

Image credit: SWA Group

The park-poor Del Rey neighborhood is about to get a $3 million infusion of green space, courtesy of the Mountains Recreation and Conservation Authority (MRCA).  According to signs recently posted across the street from Marina Middle School, the long-delayed Milton Street Park is scheduled to break ground this summer.  The linear, 1.2-acre green space would replace a currently vacant property along the banks of Ballona Creek, owned by the Baldwin Hills Regional Conservation Authority (BHRCA)

According to designs from the Downtown-based SWA Group, Milton Street Park would offer bird watching platforms, outdoor seating, picnic areas, and enhancements to the popular Ballona Creek bike path.  Plans would utilize green-design elements such as recycled materials, flow-through planters and native vegetation to create an ecological habitat for birds, insects and reptiles.  The park would also make improvements to its namesake street, including new speed bumps and a mid-block crosswalk to ensure pedestrian safety.

Milton Street Park represents the latest chapter in a long series of efforts to revitalize Ballona Creek and its surrounding environs.  The BHRCA and MRCA have spearheaded these endeavors, installing new signage, gates and greenery along the banks of the meandering waterway.  Although these improvements are modest in terms of budget and scale when compared to the $1 billion LA River restoration, Ballona Creek has nonetheless benefited from similar grassroots support.

Ballona Creek Renaissance (BCR) - a nonprofit organization established in 1995 - provides advocacy and educational efforts on behalf of the waterway.  In addition, BCR hosts cleanups of the creek and adjacent bike trail several times per year.

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Beverly Hills' Vacant Robinsons-May Bites the Dust

Beverly Hills' long-vacant Robinsons-May building is officially no more!  The above image, captured from the 42nd floor of the Century Plaza Towers, shows demolition well underway on the mid-century department store at 9900 Wilshire Boulevard.  The eight-acre property, located near the confluence of Wilshire and Santa Monica Boulevards, is the site of a long-standing proposal for a Richard Meier-designed luxury condo development.  Consisting of two mid-rise towers, the $500 million project would create 235 residential units and 21,000 square feet of ground-level commercial space.  However, any development plans are likely on hold, pending a sale of the property by current owner Joint Treasures International, Ltd.

Heavy equipment is also active on other projects nearby.  Across the street in Century City, developer Crescent Heights is in the midst of construction on a 39-story luxury apartment tower at 10000 Santa Monica Boulevard.  One block east, preliminary work began in April for a 12-story, 170-room Waldorf Astoria hotel.  The two projects are expected to open in 2016 and 2017, respectively.

9900 Wilshire Boulevard, Image Credit: Richard Meier & Partners

Friday, July 18, 2014

Breaking Down Olympic Boulevard's Low-Rise Building Spree

Clockwise from the top left corner: Olympic & Hill, 1000 Grand Avenue, 1001 Olive Street, Olympic & Olive

In the past year, Olympic Boulevard has become a major epicenter of Downtown's resurgent development scene.  On the western edge of the neighborhood, the boulevard is host to a slew of new and proposed hotel projects in the shadow of LA Live.  One mile east in the Fashion District, Olympic dead-ends near the center of the potentially transformative City Market development.  However, the greatest concentration of new investment along the Olympic corridor can be found on a two-block span between Grand Avenue and Hill Street.  There, four low-rise residential-retail complexes are in various stages of construction or pre-development, eradicating what was previously a five-acre sea of  parking lots.  Altogether, these projects will add over 1,000 market-rate apartment units in the heart of the booming South Park district.

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Checking in on the Slow-Moving NMS@Culver City

After climbing upwards at a snail's pace for two years, the wooden frame of the Sony Studios-adjacent NMS@Culver City appears to be (mostly) complete.  Located at the northwest corner of Hughes Avenue and Washington Boulevard, the low-rise edifice will feature 131 rental apartments above 12,000 square feet of ground floor retail and restaurant space.  The $63 million project from locally-based NMS Properties has fallen significantly behind its previously announced development timeline, which called for the residential-retail complex to open in Spring of this year.  Now one month into Summer, the Killefer Flammang-designed building is still nowhere near ready for occupancy.

Further east, construction has run more smoothly on Downtown Culver City's two other mixed-use developments.  Greystar Real Estate Partners' 115-unit Access Culver City has finally peeked above ground level at the corner of Washington and National Boulevards.  Across the street, steel and concrete are quickly rising at the future site of the Platform, a retail and office project from the Runyon Group.  Both project may soon be joined by 500,000 square foot development from Lowe Enterprises, which would create apartments, hotel rooms, offices and retail space on Culver City Station's current park-and-ride lot.

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Mid-Rise Hotel Planned on Hollywood Boulevard

6611-6137 Hollywood Boulevard

With mixed-use developments quickly eating up Hollywood's remaining surface parking lots, it appears that investors are finally setting their sights on the nondescript low-rise buildings that line the Walk of Fame.  Earlier this month, plans were filed with LADCP for the construction of a new hotel development at 6611-6137 Hollywood Boulevard.  The proposed building would encompass more than 145,000 square feet of floor area, offering 181 guest rooms, 18,700 square feet of ground floor retail space, and a 3,000 square foot theatre.  Rising to a maximum of 95 feet above street level, the project would occupy roughly .75 acres of land on a block between Cherokee and Whitley Avenues.

Construction of the new development would first require the demolition of several existing structures, including one which formerly housed the SBE-branded E.A.S.T. restaurant.  The mid-rise project would also sit across across the street from Champion Real Estate's Hollywood Cherokee Apartments, a six-story residential-retail complex planned for a parking lot in-between Las Palmas and Cherokee Avenues.

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

New Details Emerge for Massive SoLA Village

Image credit: Gensler and P-A-T-T-E-R-N-S via Los Angeles Times

This past June, Glendale-based PRH LA Mart shocked many observers when they announced plans for SoLA Village, a $1 billion development intended for two sprawling parking lots adjacent to South Broadway's REEF Building.  Consisting of 1.6 million square feet of new floor area, architectural renderings from Gensler and P-A-T-T-E-R-N-S portray shimmering condo towers and new apartment buildings along the path of Metro's Blue Line.  Although the project remains years away from groundbreaking, a new environmental study released by LADCP sheds light on both the timeline and the scale of the development program.

Slightly Updated Look For the Earl Carroll-Adjacent Mixed-User

Earlier this year, I erroneously posted outdated designs of a mixed-use development planned for a parking lot near Sunset Boulevard's Earl Carroll Theatre.  Developer Essex Property Trust quickly stepped in to set things right, via Curbed LA.  Hopefully a new environmental study released by LADCP prevents me from making a similar mistake this time around.

Plans for the two-acre lot at 6250 Sunset Boulevard now call for a low-rise structure containing 200 apartments and 4,700 square feet of ground floor retail space.  Residential units would be served by a four-level, 316-car parking garage, with vehicular access provided via Leland Way.  Other on-site amenities would include a fitness center, outdoor pool, spa area, sky deck and a residential club house.

The seven-story building, designed by Harley Ellis Devereaux, would utilize exterior materials including fiber cement paneling, anodized aluminum, terra cotta and smooth finish plaster.  Updated renderings from the project's initial study deviate marginally from earlier images, swapping out bright orange elements for a less ostentatious shade of earth red-orange.

Sunday, July 13, 2014

A Closer Look at the Skyline Altering Metropolis

Later this week, the DLANC Planning and Land Use Committee is scheduled to take a close look at details of the Greenland Group's plans for Metropolis.  The first stage of the $1 billion project, which quietly began site preparation last week, will create 350 hotel rooms and 308 condominium units in towers of 19 and 38 stories.  Buildings will surround a ground-level automobile courtyard, lined by more than 7,000 square feet of pedestrian-oriented retail space.  Both towers would sit atop a seven-floor parking garage, featuring five above-ground levels.

The more ambitious second phase of the development calls for two additional high-rise towers, oriented towards the northern end of the 6.3-acre project site.  Buildings would rise to heights of 58 and 40 stories, containing a cumulative 1,250 condominiums and 67,000 square feet of retail space.  The larger structure, peaking 647 feet above street level, would narrowly edge out the Onni Group's proposed tower at 820 Olive Street for the title of Los Angeles' tallest residential building.

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Watch Metropolis Reshape the Downtown Skyline

Your eyes do not deceive you: the surface parking lot at the corner of 9th and Francisco Streets is no more.  With a $39 million taxpayer subsidy in hand, Shanghai's Greenland Real Estate Group has officially commenced work on the first half of the long-awaited Metropolis development.  A skeleton crew quietly kicked off on the $1 billion project yesterday morning, stripping asphalt from the phase one site.  The dirt lot seen above will eventually birth high-rise towers of 19 and 38 stories, creating 350 hotel rooms and 308 condominium units above street-level retail space.  San Francisco-based Webcor Builders, general contractor for the Metropolis development, has fortunately installed a construction camera directly across 9th Street.  Take your progress updates every fifteen minutes in glorious HD.

The Greenland Group is currently in the planning stages for a more grandiose phase two of the project, which would create larger buildings near the intersection of 8th and Francisco Streets.  Gensler-designed plans filed with the city call for a total of 1,250 condominium units and 67,000 feet of commercial space.  An updated rendering of Metropolis from brokerage firm Douglas Elliman portrays the second phase with two additional towers, featuring glass exteriors and sloping roof lines (see below).

A Glimpse into Playa Vista's Future Core

Take a hard look down Millennium Drive into the heart of Playa Vista's mixed-use construction binge.  The above image--sent yesterday by an e-mail tipster--portrays several of the structures which will eventually define the planned community's main commercial hub.

Near the center of the photograph, we see a construction crane raised high above Lincoln Property Company's Runway at Playa Vista.  The $260 million development will stretch from McConnell Avenue to Village Drive, offering wide sidewalks flanked by more than 200,000 square feet of retail and restaurant space.  Tenants will reportedly include Whole Foods Market, CVS Pharmacy and Cinemark Theatres.

Above ground level, the Johnson Fain-designed complex will offer 420 apartments and 35,000 square feet of creative office space.  Residential and commercial buildings will occupy both sides of Millennium Drive, rising between four and five stories in height.

Monday, July 7, 2014

Playa Del Rey's Strand Offices Looking Good

Silicon Beach's creative office boom has officially hit Playa Del Rey.  When we last checked in on the Strand Offices in September 2013, the low-rise development's wood skeleton was still taking form.  Ten months later, the twin three-story structures are clad in plaster and wood paneling, closely resembling architectural renderings from the MiKA Design Group.

The $6 million development from Cove Spring Partners consists of 10,000 square feet of office space and parking accommodations for 32 vehicles.  Located at 311 and 315 Culver Boulevard, the buildings are situated less than a ten-minute walk from the beach, along a corridor rich with retail and restaurant establishments. 

Although Playa Del Rey has thus far retained its mid-century identity as a quaint, beachfront community, the Strand Offices may be a harbinger of the neighborhood's future.  The colossal Playa Vista campus looms one mile east, comprising more than 1,000 acres of residential, office and retail uses.  Two blocks west of the Strand, the controversial Legado Del Mar development is planned for a triangular-shaped property bounded by Culver Boulevard, Pacific Avenue and Vista Del Mar.

Saturday, July 5, 2014

Boutique Hotel Planned on Cahuenga Boulevard

Although still rough around the edges, the blocks east of Hollywood/Vine Station have suddenly become a breeding ground for hotel developments.  Earlier this year, the West Coast's first Dream Hotel location broke ground on Selma Avenue.  Soon, it will be joined by another hospitality project a half-block south.

As first reported by Bisnow, an unspecified developer has recently leased a mid-block parcel on Cahuenga Boulevard with the intent of constructing a boutique hotel.  Plans submitted to the Department of Building and Safety call for a seven-story structure at 1525 North Cahuenga Boulevard, featuring 55 guest rooms and a rooftop pool deck.  The project would also include a bar and restaurant space.

In addition to the Dream Hollywood, the boutique hotel is joined by two other large-scale developments south of Sunset Boulevard.  Last month, Kilroy Realty unveiled plans for a $300 million mixed-use campus, slated for a city block in-between Vine Street and Cahuenga Boulevard.  Directly across the street, a partnership between Florida-based Rescore and Cal-Coast Development proposes a similar complex, consisting of 300 apartments and 18,000 square feet of office space.

Thursday, July 3, 2014

Whoa: Eric Owen Moss's Expo-Adjacent Tower Pulls Permits

Expo Line passengers in-between the Culver City and La Cienega/Jefferson Stations might be getting some very noticeable eye candy in the not-so-distant future.  Believe it or not, LADBS permits appear to be in the works for (W)rapper, the poorly-named, Eric Owen Moss-designed creative office building slated for the intersection of Jefferson and National Boulevards.

Due to an extremely high floor-to-ceiling ratio, the 12-story tower would stand 230 feet tall, giving it a monolithic presence within the primarily low-rise Baldwin Hills neighborhood.  Consisting of just over 150,000 square feet of office space, (W)rapper's design would utilize a "continuous system of curvilinear ribbons," to allow for completely open floor plans.  The tower would rise above three levels of parking -- one at-grade and two below ground.

The project is being developed by Samitaur Constructs, landlord of the Conjunctive Points creative office haven.  The firm has engaged in a successful partnership with Eric Owen Moss Architects over the past several decades, creating a multitude of undulating structures that fascinate potential tenants and passersby alike.  (W)rapper would be their most ambitious collaboration to date, and one of only a handful inside Los Angeles city limits.

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

West LA Car Dealership Making Way for Mixed-User

As reported by car-blogger Todd Bianco, West Los Angeles's Buerge Ford closed its doors this Spring after nearly 100 years of business.  However, the former car dealership's 1.3 acres of Santa Monica Boulevard will not sit vacant for long.  According to plans submitted to the city late last month, the property will soon be converted into a mixed-use apartment complex.  As indicated by the project's LADCP case filing, the proposed development would rise four stories, containing 157 dwelling units and slighty over 44,000 square feet of ground floor retail space.

Located at 11800 Santa Monica Boulevard, the new residential-retail complex would sit within shouting distance of several planned or under-construction developments.  Just two blocks east, West LA's former "Ghetto Vons," is being replaced by a new, pedestrian-friendly Pavilions supermarket.  Further north, developer Douglas Emmit, Inc. intends to construct a 34-story apartment tower on Wilshire Boulevard.

The apartment complex would also sit across Granville Avenue from a second empty dealership belonging to the Buerge Motor Car Company.  Perhaps a similar redevelopment scheme could be on the way?

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Fresh Renderings of the Almost-Finished Sunset Gordon Tower

All images from RKF

After numerous lawsuits and cries of corruption, CIM Group's $100 million Sunset Gordon tower is expected to open later this year.  The 23-story high-rise--which broke ground in 2012--will soon infuse a sleepy section of Sunset Boulevard with 300 apartments, 14,000 square feet of ground floor retail space, and 40,000 square feet of creative office space.  Although the building's real-life appearance deviates significantly from earlier renderings (Hello, stucco!), a new set of promotional images paints a rosier picture for the project.

At ground level, Sunset Gordon will faithfully recreate the facade of Hollywood's Old Spaghetti Factory restaurant, which was demolished to make way for the tower.  Opened in 1924, the one-story building first served as a showroom for the Peerless Motor Company and later as a radio broadcast facility for KNX and KMPC.  CIM Group will incorporate several design elements salvaged from the original structure into Sunset Gordon's ground floor, including windows and wooden trusses (see interior renderings below).