Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Another Glimpse of the Palladium Residences

Photo credit: Crescent Heights

Take another look at Sunset Boulevard's stylish Palladium Residences, the high-rise towers proposed for the parking lot abutting the Hollywood Palladium.  The mixed-use complex, unveiled last summer by developer Crescent Heights, would offer a blend of residential units and hotel rooms in a pair of sleek, 28-story buildings.  An official website for the project features a new set of high-resolution renderings, highlighting the Palladium Residences' street-level integration and prominent location within the Hollywood skyline.

The twin 350-foot towers, designed by Stanley Saitowitz of Natoma Architects, could move forward under two distinct development programs.  Under the first scenario, Crescent Heights would build a purely residential project with 731 dwelling units.  In an alternate program, the towers would feature a mixture of 538 residential units and 250 hotel rooms.  Both plans call for a total of 14,000 square feet of pedestrian-oriented commercial space, in addition an underground parking garage with accommodations for approximately 1,900 vehicles and 820 bicycles.

Monday, September 29, 2014

A Quick Trip Through the Sunset Boulevard Boom

This past weekend, a broken water main spilled untold gallons of precious drinking water onto the Sunset Strip, dealing yet another blow to drought-stricken California.  On the other hand, flooding of a more figurative (and less dire) sort is also occurring further east along the iconic thoroughfare.  Let's for get about LADWP's woes for a moment as we check in on the deluge of mixed-use developments adding new office space and residential units between Vine Street and the Hollywood Freeway.

As reported in mid-September, Hudson Pacific Properties has quietly broken ground on the long planned expansion of Sunset Bronson Studios (see above).  The $150 million project will ultimately create over 400,000 square feet of Class-A office space, mostly contained within a 14-story, Gensler-designed tower.  The staggered massing of the stout, 200-foot building will create a unique presence within the mid-rise Hollywood skyline.  Currently, construction crews are removing asphalt from the southeast corner of the SBS campus, clearing the way for an immense 1,600-vehicle parking garage.

Friday, September 26, 2014

Watch USC Build Its Mixed-Use Village in Real Time

Earlier this month, USC officially broke ground on its long-awaited Village development.  The first phase of the $650 million project will expand the existing campus north by 15 acres, adding a combination of student housing, academic facilities and community-serving retail space.  As has been the case with other recent capital investments, USC Facilities Management has set up a live-feed camera focused on project, allowing Trojans and all other interested parties to stay up-to-date on the Village's progress.  A battalion of dump trucks was recently seen streaming through the construction site, hauling away dirt in preparation for foundation work.

When completed in late 2017, the first phase of the Village will yield new academic facilities, housing for up to 2,700 students, and 115,000 square feet of street-level commercial stalls.  The low-rise buildings - designed by Harley Ellis Devereaux in the school's signature Collegiate Gothic style - will be oriented around an expansive central plaza.  Trader Joe's, the trendy grocer which consistently eludes nearby Downtown Los Angeles, was recently announced as a ground-floor tenant.

Later phases of the development would tackle two adjacent city blocks, encompassing an additional 15 acres between Vermont and McClintock Avenues.  A full build out of the Village will carry an approximately $1.1 billion price tag, creating more than two million square feet of programmed area.

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Lots of Activity at G.H. Palmer's Broadway/Olympic Site

Downtown stakeholders breathed a collective sigh of relief last February, when developer G.H. Palmer - he of freeway-adjacent, "fauxtalian," infamy - revealed more contextually appropriate plans for a mixed-use development near the Ace Hotel.  That historically-themed design will soon be put to the test, as the Beverly Hills-based developer has finally begun work on the the project known as Broadway Palace.  Crews are currently demolishing an existing building and surface parking lot at the southeast corner of Broadway and Olympic Boulevard, clearing the way for the first of the complex's two buildings.

The low-rise and mid-rise project, designed by Nelson/Boivin Architecture & Planning, calls for a cumulative 686 apartment units and over 50,000 square feet of ground-level commercial stalls.  The buildings, which will be clad in brick veneer, are to rise on opposite sides of Olympic Boulevard.  Planning documents indicate that the project may be linked together by a pedestrian bridge, an amenity which became a controversial issue for a different Palmer development earlier this year.

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

New York-Based Hotelier Setting Up Shop Near Staples

Staples Center and its surrounding environs.

Representatives of the Wilshire Grand development ended months of speculation earlier today, announcing that Intercontinental Hotels & Resorts will operate the 73-story tower's 900-room luxury inn.  Surprisingly, that's not the only hotel buzz emanating from Downtown Los Angeles at the moment.

According to an interview with HOTELS Magazine, New York-based Hampshire Hotels Management is planning to open a new location in close vicinity to Staples Center and LA Live.  CEO Eric Danziger states that the company is considering either the Time Hotel or another 3-star brand for their South Park outpost.  The as-of-yet undisclosed location would be their second in Los Angeles, following the upcoming Dream Hollywood Hotel.

One potential home could be the $1 billion Metropolis development, which will feature a 350-room hotel at the intersection of 9th and Francisco Streets.  Although city documents had previously pointed to IHG's Hotel Indigo as the likely operator of the 19-story tower, developer Greenland USA has yet to give official word.  Other proposed developments from Mack Urban and the Oceanwide Group also call for substantial hotel components, but have yet to announce operators.

Friday, September 19, 2014

Low-Rise Mixed-User to Sprout on Reseda Boulevard

The WaterMark (Images courtesy of the Albert Group Architects

One of the San Fernando Valley's countless auto repair shops is about to make way for a new mixed-use development.  The WaterMark, a residential-retail complex from the Los Angeles-based Metric Holdings Corporation, is slated for an approximately 2.5-acre site at the crossing of Reseda Boulevard and the Los Angeles River.  The low-rise project, designed by the Albert Group Architects, will contain 254 one, two and three-bedroom apartment units above slightly less than 7,700 square feet of ground-level commercial space.

Plans call for a six-story structure along Reseda Boulevard which would gradually step down in height as as it approaches the single-family zone to the west.  A glass clad tower highlights the WaterMark's design, inviting cyclists and joggers to enjoy the neighborhood-serving stores and eateries which will stretch north from Kittridge Street.  The low-rise project, which is to be located less than one mile from an Orange Line Station, will offer parking accommodations for up to 436 automobiles and 287 bicycles.

Like many new river-adjacent developments, Metric Holdings' project reverses the long-standing trend of shunning the maligned waterway.  Instead, the WaterMark will embrace an eventually revitalized LA river through common green space and bicycle parking on its southern edge.  The green space will wrap around to the eastern side of the property, where it shall provide additional landscaping as a buffer between the apartments and nearby single-family homes.  Further open space is provided via private balconies and upper-level terraces.

Thursday, September 18, 2014

The Ultimate Measure R2 Fantasy Map

Image Credit: Move LA

Transportation advocacy group Move LA, one of the driving forces behind the transformative Measure R, has cooked up a mouth watering fantasy map for a sequel ballot initiative in 2016.  Measure R2, as per its most recent draft proposal, could fund a slew of transportation improvements throughout Los Angeles County via a 45-year, half-cent sales tax.  As reported this past April by Streetsblog LA, the tentative plan allots revenue as follows:

  • 30% for new Metro Rail and BRT Capital
  • 20% for Transit Operations
  • 20% for Highways
  • 15% for Local Return
  • 6% for Clean Goods Movement
  • 5% for Metrolink Capital
  • 4% for Active Transportation

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Fancy Senior Housing Complex Breaks Ground in Playa Vista

Image credit: Kilograph

Feast your eyes on the latest shiny object to sprout from the ashes of Howard Hughes's once expansive empire.  According to multiple sources, the Los Angeles Jewish Home has officially broken ground on the Fountainview at Gonda Westside, an upscale senior housing development in the Playa Vista neighborhood.  The $100 million complex will feature a series of low-rise structures, offering a total of 175 independent living units and 24 assisted living/memory care units.  Plans call for a wide battery of residential amenities, including a fitness center, library, screening room and a ground-floor cafe.  In addition, an accessible rooftop deck will offer both a swimming pool and a spa.  Completion is currently scheduled for sometime in 2016.

Plans from architectural firm Gensler call for a complex of six-story buildings, incorporating the sloping rooflines and wood paneling frequently seen on other Westside developments. The project's design  ingratiates itself heavily to the outdoors, both through its rooftop amenity deck and its expansive balconies.  Lush landscaping will surround the perimeter of the residential community and permeate into an internal courtyard.

Saturday, September 13, 2014

Long Beach's Newest Tower Now Pushing Dirt

Six months after its nominal groundbreaking, Long Beach's first post-recession high-rise finally has non-ceremonial shovels in the dirt.  Construction of the Current, a 17-story mixed-use tower, is visibly underway at the northwest corner of Lime Avenue and Ocean Boulevard.  The $70 million project - formerly known as Shoreline Gateway - will offer a mixture of 223 studio, one-bedroom, two-bedroom and penthouse apartments.  Ground-level commercial stalls will encompass a total of 6,750 square feet, divided between retail and restaurant uses.

The tower's design, created by San Francisco-based BAR Architects, takes inspiration from the work of early Southern California modernists such as Richard Neutra and R.M. Schindler.  Due to its location just blocks from the ocean, the Current places a strong emphasis on quality outdoor amenities.  The design incorporates expansive terraces and a roofdeck pool, offering views of both the waterfront and the surrounding cityscape.  In addition, the building's main entrance will feed directly into a 25,000 square foot plaza, to be built over a closed-off section of Lime Avenue.

Construction of the Current is scheduled for completion in the first quarter of 2016.  After that point, developer Anderson Pacific, LLC is expected to embark on a more grandiose second phase of the project: a 35-story condominium building.  That tower, to be located catacorner from the iconic Villa Riviera Apartments, would likely become the tallest residential building in Downtown Long Beach.

Image Credit: The Current Living

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Big Sunset Bronson Studios Expansion to Break Ground Next Week

Icon at SBS (Image credit: Hudson Pacific Properties)

Hollywood's well documented construction boom continues to surge, as yet another skyline altering project prepares to break ground near the 101 Freeway.  According to Bisnow, local landlord Hudson Pacific Properties (HPP) plans to begin work next week on a long-awaited expansion of Sunset Bronson Studios (SBS).  The $150 million development, designed by architectural firm Gensler, will retool the eastern side of the SBS campus with a new parking garage and approximately 400,000 square feet of office and production space.

HPP's expansion project is highlighted by Icon, a 14-story office tower slated for the corner of Sunset Boulevard and Van Ness Avenue.  The 315,000 square foot structure will stand roughly 200 feet tall, creating a commanding presence above the nearby freeway trench.  An August piece from the Architect's Newspaper describes the building as featuring "five rectangular, stacked volumes, offset horizontally to create exterior terraces."  Facade elements will variate between precast panels and a glass curtain wall, breaking down the tower's broad, imposing scale.

Moving south from Sunset Boulevard, the project will include two new buildings of a lower height profile.  The first, a five-story production building, will contain 90,000 square feet of production office space and a ground-level cafe.  The second, a seven-story garage, will rise adjacent to the production building and offer parking accommodations for 1,600 vehicles.

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Hollywood's Lexington Development Redesigned and Downsized

Viewed from the corner of Santa Monica Boulevard and Las Palmas Avenue

Five years after stalling out with developer DS Ventures, Central Hollywood's massive Lexington project is somehow alive and kicking.  The mixed-use development, proposed for a 5.9-acre site at the intersection of Santa Monica Boulevard and Las Palmas Avenue, would create a series of low-rise buildings featuring apartments and/or condominiums above ground-level commercial space.  A recently released FEIR casts some light on the updated, and slightly reduced development program.

Revised plans for the Lexington were designed by Santa Monica-based VTBS Architects, and call for six buildings, ranging from five-to-seven stories in height.  The low-rise structures will contain a total of 695 studio, one and two-bedroom units.  This represents a sharp decrease from the 786 dwelling units proposed under the former development program.  Conversely, the new plans call for just under 25,000 square feet of ground-level retail and restaurant space, a slight increase from the original proposal.  The project will also offer parking accommodations for nearly 1,400 vehicles, to be located in a three-level, partially-underground garage.

Friday, September 5, 2014

South Park Condo Project Gets a (Slightly) Different Look

Image credit: Harley Ellis Devereaux

As the long-awaited revival of Fig Central finally starts to rev its engines, architectural firm Harley Ellis Devereaux has retooled the look of a neighboring high-rise proposal.  1200 Fig - revealed in July by Curbed LA - will feature a pair of elliptical, 36-story towers with 648 condominium units and 50,000 square feet of ground-level retail and restaurant space.  Updated renderings of the project portray the twin buildings with horizontal window patterns, giving them an appearance which would be right at home in Downtown Miami.  The towers are adorned with swooping roof lines, inspired by the architecture of the adjacent Staples Center.

While the towers may look straight outta' Brickell, their podium structure has a lot more in common with Times Square.  Six levels of above-grade parking will be wrapped with LED signage, displaying advertisements and public art above Figueroa, Flower and 12th Streets.  Similar video screens are also utilized on neighboring tower developments, including Fig Central and the recently completed double-Marriott on Olympic Boulevard.

The mixed-use complex is being developed by a team of investors, including Jamison Services and the Hankey Group.  At 400 feet, the twin towers will reportedly be the tallest reinforced concrete structures ever built in Los Angeles.  According to the website of structural engineering firm Cary Kopczynski & Company, 1200 Fig is anticipated to break ground in late 2014.

Thursday, September 4, 2014

Introducing 925 La Brea: Hollywood's Latest Office Development

Resurgent demand for quality office space in Hollywood has revived a slew of commercial developments throughout the submarket, including 1601 Vine Street and the sprawling Columbia Square campus.  Now, a recent environmental report provides a glimpse of the neighborhood's latest project, intended for a property which straddles the Hollywood/West Hollywood border.

925 La Brea Avenue, a six-story mixed-use complex, would rise from a mid-block parcel between Willoughby Avenue and Romaine Streets.  Designed by Santa Barbara-based Shubin + Donaldson Architects, the project would feature nearly 50,000 square feet of office space on its upper three floors.  The structure's three bottom floors would be devoted to a 175-car parking garage and 15,000 square feet of street-fronting commercial space.  A 4,800 square foot outdoor garden would occupy a fourth floor amenity deck, providing tenants with much needed open space.

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Oceanwide Group Finally Getting Active on Fig Central

Image credit: RTKL

Nine months after purchasing the comatose Fig Central development for $200 million, Oceanwide Real Estate Group is finally taking the plunge in South Park.  Last week, the Beijing-based developer issued $320 million in bonds that will reportedly be used to finance the construction of the mixed-use complex.  Simultaneously, the developer has applied for the first in a series of LADBS approvals that will allow the long-delayed project to move forward.

The recent LADBS filing describes Fig Central as a two-building development, offering a mixture of apartments and hotel rooms above ground-level commercial space and a health club.  Towers will ascend to heights of 53 and 38 stories, seated atop a an eight-floor podium structure.  Seven stories of the podium will be devoted to a vehicular garage, supplementing three underground parking levels.

More information can be garnered via a series of renderings, drawn up years ago by architectural firm RTKL.  Fig Central, originally envisioned as the retail component of the LA Live complex, greets its namesake street with storefronts and a mid-block public plaza.  From there, a ground-level paseo cuts straight through to the eastern side of the property, helping to mitigate the inherent walkability issues that come with such a large development site.

The glass-clad towers would directly abut the Flower Street side of the project, creating a formidable street wall along the path of the Blue and Expo Lines.  Upper levels of the mid-rise podium would feature outdoor dining space and a residential amenity deck.  Additionally, a large LED ribbon would wrap the western perimeter of the property, bombarding commercialism upon all passersby between 11th and 12th Streets.

Fig Central joins more than a dozen new and revived high-rise projects that have sprung up throughout Downtown within the past two years.  North of LA Live, the Shanghai-based Greenland Group is currently building hotel and condominium towers as part of their Metropolis development.   On parking lots surrounding the Fig Central site, Mack Urban and other local investors are scheduled to break ground on multiple high-rise buildings before the end of this year.

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Beverly Hills-Adjacent Condo Tower Pulls Permits

Image credit: Genton Property Group

According to a series of permit filings with the Los Angeles Department of Building and Safety, the long delayed Wetherly Luxury Residences are finally exhibiting signs of life.  The $230 million development, in the works since prior to the global recession, calls for a mid-rise condominium tower at the corner of 3rd Street and Wetherly Drive.  Renderings from the website of developer Genton Property Group portray a boxy, 12-story structure containing 55 for-sale units and more than 100 parking stalls.  The proposed building, reportedly designed by architectural firm RTKL, would feature a stout, 152-foot height profile.

Originally approved at a 16-story, 132 unit development, a combination of neighborhood resistance and market realities gradually whittled the proposed building down to its current size.  However, even the substantially reduced development program has still engendered outcry from neighbors large and small.  In addition to run-of-the-mill complaints of blocked views, overpopulation and traffic congestion, the project also brought Genton Property Group into conflict with the adjacent Four Seasons Hotel last year.