Friday, March 6, 2015

Introducing Urbanize LA

Building Los Angeles and Creative Pursuits Web Development are pleased to announce the launch Urbanize LA, a new website focused on real estate development and urban planning in Southern California.  Our new format will combine BLA's coverage of proposed and ongoing developments in the Greater Los Angeles Area with in-depth discussion of architecture and the region's planning policy.  Henceforth, all content from this blog will migrate to the new website.  Hope to see you there.

Please follow us on Twitter @UrbanizeLA and like us on Facebook here.

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Vibiana-Adjacent Residential Complex Breaks Ground

Image: Togawa Smith Martin, Inc. via the Downtown News

Yet another mixed-use development is now pushing dirt in Downtown Los Angeles.

Earlier this week, Holland Partner Group broke ground on a new residential-retail complex adjacent to the deconsecrated Cathedral of St. Vibiana.  The eight-story development, located at 222 South Main Street, will feature 238 apartments above 4,000 square feet of ground-floor retail or restaurant space.  The low-rise edifice will feature numerous amenities, including a 247-car garage and a rooftop pool deck.

The project, slated to open in early 2017, is being designed by architecture firm Togawa Smith Martin.  Their plan for the apartment complex are is a minor revision of an earlier proposal from the Weintraub Real Estate Group, which had called for a nine-story steel-framed structure on the property.  The minor height reduction will allow Holland Partner Group to utilize less expensive wood-frame construction for the development.

The new apartment complex will continue to improve connectivity between Downtown's Historic Core and Little Tokyo, which was once separated by a six-acre expanse of surface parking lots known as "Block 8."  Recent years have seen that gap fill in, thanks to new mixed-use complexes from developers Avalon Bay at the Sares-Regis Group.  A variety of new eateries, including the popular Redbird, have also improved foot traffic through the neighborhood.

Holland Partner Group is also an active player in other parts of the greater Downtown community.  In addition to their project on Main Street, the company is currently building a $200 million low-rise complex on the Westlake-City West border.  The Washington-based developer is also in the planning stages for a 24-story apartment tower at the intersection of Spring and Eighth Streets.

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

LA County Looks to Facilitate Crenshaw Line TODs

3606 West Exposition Boulevard

In an effort to stimulate economic growth in South Los Angeles, County Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas is pushing for the redevelopment of government-owned land near the upcoming Crenshaw light-rail line.

According to a motion submitted by the 2nd District Supervisor, the Los Angeles County Probation Department intends to relocate the operations of its current Crenshaw Area Office at 3606 West Exposition Boulevard.  The dated one-story structure is situated next to to a future transfer station between the Expo and Crenshaw Lines, and thus occupies a critical juncture in the Metro Rail network.

Under plans detailed in the motion, the County intends to partner with Metro in redeveloping the one-and-a-half-acre property as a mixed-use complex with possible residential and commercial components.  The Probation Department's operations would be moved to another county-owned building near the University of Southern California.

Monday, March 2, 2015

Luxury Apartments to Rise in Brentwood

A pair of vacant mid-century residential buildings in Brentwood will soon meet with the wrecking ball, to be replaced by a modern rental development.

Later this month, Elite Real Estate will begin work on a luxury apartment complex at 11965 Montana Avenue.  The five-story development, designed by an in-house architect, would comprise 49 residential units and amenities including a pool and a rooftop deck.  The proposed building would occupy an approximately half-acre site, located mid-block between Bundy Drive and San Vicente Boulevard.

Plans call for a mixture of two- and three-bedroom dwellings, each averaging approximately 1,600 square feet in size.  Rents in the low-rise complex will average $4,750 per month, excluding four units reserved for low-income households.

Demolition of the existing structures at 11965 Montana Avenue is scheduled to begin in one week, with all materials expected to be harvested and reused.  Construction of the new building is expected to occur over one-and-a-half years, with delivery currently scheduled for the third quarter of 2016.

Friday, February 27, 2015

Updated Look for Proposed Arts District Development

1800 E 7th (All images: HansonLA)

Architecture firm HansonLA has revealed an updated look for 1800 East Seventh Street, a proposed mixed-use development in the southern Arts District.

The seven-story complex, which is planned by a limited liability corporation known as Elm Tree Investments, would feature 125 live-work apartments and 8,000 square feet of ground-floor retail space.  Proposed amenities include 500 square feet of artist's production space, outdoor gardens on the building's second and roof levels, and two floors of underground parking.

Located at the intersection of Seventh and Decatur Streets, the project is strongly influenced by the Arts District Live/Work Zone, a proposed zoning overlay which seeks to guide the neighborhood's future development.  While the proposed overlay declines to strictly address building aesthetics, it does encourage the construction of live-work units in new most new residential complexes.  Consequently, plans for 1800 East Seventh Street call for a minimum of 150 square feet of work space in each apartment.

An exact timeline for the low-rise complex is currently unclear.  It is one of several developments currently planned along Seventh Street, including the revived AMP Lofts and the adaptive reuse of a factory which once served as the Southern California headquarters of the Ford Motor Company.

Thursday, February 26, 2015

Shabby Section of Palms Getting Mixed-Use Development

The Roy @ Overland

According to a mitigated negative declaration published by the Los Angeles Department of City Planning, an approximately half-acre site in Palms may birth to a new mixed-use development

Plans were filed with the city last December for the Roy @ Overland, a six-story residential-retail complex at 3644-3658 South Overland Avenue.  The project, slated to replace a series of one-story commercial structures, would include 92 residential units, roughly 1,600 square feet of ground-floor restaurant space, and an underground garage with parking accommodations for 105 vehicles and 109 bicycles.

The proposed low-rise building would offer a mixture of studio, one- and two-bedroom apartments, including eight units reserved for very low income households.  These uses would be supplemented by amenities such as a fitness center and an open-air roof deck.  Additional open space would be created by private balconies in over half of the the apartments.

Designs for the project from Killefer Flammang Architects (KFA) call for strong vertical and horizontal elements.  Like a similar KFA-designed project on Motor Avenue, the Roy's street-fronting facade would open to a central courtyard.  The private gathering space would be situated on the building's second level, offering greenery, outdoor seating and water features.

Construction of the mixed-use development is expected to occur over approximately 18 months, with full occupancy anticipated in 2017.  A groundbreaking for the project is contingent on multiple discretionary approvals from the City of Los Angeles, including two on-menu density bonus incentives.

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Luxury Apartments Opening in Hancock Park

Last week, Alliance Residential announced the opening of Broadstone Candara, a 103-unit luxury apartment complex in Hancock Park.  The project, located at 738 Wilcox Avenue, is situated close to Larchmont Village, the Wilshire Country Club, Melrose Avenue and Paramount Studios.

Designed in the Spanish Colonial Revival style by Santa Monica's DFH Architects, Broadstone Candara is reminiscent of the distinguished residences of Hancock Park.  The complex's Moorish-inspired interior design complements the Spanish-themed exterior architecture with amenities like that of a boutique hotel.

The luxury development includes an wide array of creative-themed common areas, including a residential lounge, outdoor garden and a rooftop terrace.  Design work by H. Hendy Associates features detailed oversized furniture, intricate tile work and dramatic lighting. 

Residential interiors were designed by Ariel Fox, with high-quality finishes such as granite counters, hotel-style fixtures and grained wood floors.  Each unit also offers high-speed internet, electric mesh shades and private storage space.

Broadstone Candara includes a variety of eco-friendly design features, allowing the project to seek LEED Silver Certification.  The development includes studio, one- and two-bedroom dwellings with rents ranging from $2,325 to $5,920 per month.

Monday, February 23, 2015

Apartments Headed for Marina Del Rey Arts District

Image: PK Architecture

According to an agenda from last week's meeting of the Del Rey Neighborhood Council's Community Planning, Traffic and Transportation Committee, a large mixed-use complex is planned in the Del Rey Arts District.

California Landmark, the developer of several loft projects in the neighborhood, intends to construct another low-rise residential development on a current parking lot at 4210 Del Rey Avenue.  Plans the approximately two-acre property call for a five-story structure, containing 134 dwelling units and slightly under 15,000 square feet of office space.  The apartment complex, to be known as D1 Living, would also offer 359 parking spaces for use by residents and tenants of an adjacent office building.

A case filing from the Los Angeles Department of City Planning states that California Landmark has requested a 35% density bonus, indicated that subsidized housing will be included in the development.

The project is being designed by Woodland Hills-based PK Architecture, a firm has collaborated with California Landmark on several of their other Del Rey developments.  Elevation plans included with the presentation indicate that the low-rise structure would be clad with plaster, glass and metal screening.  The building would be centered around two courtyards, with further open space provided by a rooftop amenity deck.

An exact construction timeline for D1 Living is currently unclear.  Records from the Los Angeles Department of Building and Safety currently show no permit applications on file.

Saturday, February 21, 2015

Shiny New Renderings Released for Figueroa Central

Figueroa Central (All images: Oceanwide Holdings Group)

New renderings have emerged for Figueroa Central, the skyline-altering mixed-use complex which recently broke ground across the street from Staples Center.

The $1 billion development from Beijing-based Oceanwide Holdings Group will create three high-rise towers, offering 504 luxury condominiums and a five-star hotel.  Long envisioned as the retail complement to the restaurants and entertainment venues of LA Live, Figueroa Central will contain approximately 200,000 square feet of commercial space within a two-level open-air galleria.

Designs for the project by architecture firm RTKL call for some of the tallest residential buildings in Los Angeles.  The 49-story North Tower, rising 677 feet above street level, will include a 183-key hotel and 164 condominiums.  As first reported by DTLA Rising, the five-star inn will feature the first American outpost of the opulent Cavalli Club, in addition to celebrity-chef restaurants and a luxurious spa.

Figueroa Central's twin South Towers will each rise 40 stories, peaking 530 feet above ground.  Plans call for 170 condominiums in each of the buildings, perched above an elevated private park with greenery and playground space for residents.  The towers' seven-story podium would feature nearly 1,000 parking spaces, obscured from view by a 32,000-square-foot LED ribbon which is being called the largest on the West Coast.  The project would also include an additional 480 parking stalls on subterranean levels.

Oceanwide Holdings currently anticipates sales of the condominium units to commence in 2017, with the full project expected to open in 2018.

Friday, February 20, 2015

Another Office Complex Begins Work in Playa Vista

Google's impending arrival in Playa Vista has set off a monumental shift in the West Los Angeles office market.  After years of searching for space in traditional creative hubs such as Santa Monica and Venice, numerous tech firms are now looking further south in order to situate themselves closer to the Bay Area heavyweight.  With this changing landscape in mind, a New York-based developer has broken ground on a speculative office complex directly across the street from Google's future twelve-acre campus.

According to commercial real estate publication Bisnow, Tishman Speyer is currently in design development for 407,000 square feet of office space Playa Vista Parcels 1 and 2.  The project, slated for completion in late 2016, will be split between five- and six-story structures at 12126 and 12099 West Waterfront Drive.  As of this week, preliminary grading and site preparation is underway for both of the low-rise buildings.

The speculative development begins work as Tishman Speyer nears completion on a nearby campus-style project known as the Collective at Playa Vista.  Slightly over 130,000 square feet of the five-building complex is already leased, thanks to Yahoo's recent decision to relocate from its current Santa Monica operations.  Bisnow also reports that Tishman Speyer is in negotiations with 72,000-square-foot tenant who would bring the development to full occupancy.

Thursday, February 19, 2015

Low-Rise Apartment Complex Planned in Hollywood

1715 N. Bronson Avenue (Image: Tate Snyder Kimsey Architects)

According to an environmental report published by the Los Angeles Department of City Planning, yet another low-rise residential development is headed for Hollywood.

Last September, developer Pristine Properties, LLC filed plans with the city for a seven-story apartment complex on an approximately one-acre property near the Hollywood Freeway.  The project, located at 1715 North Bronson Avenue, would feature 89 dwelling units and subterranean parking accommodations for up to 146 vehicles and 117 bicycles.

The design of the proposed development comes from Tate Snyder Kimsey Architects, a national firm whose recent work includes the Historic Core's Topaz apartment complex.  Renderings for 1715 North Bronson portray a distinctly modern structure, clad with corrugated metal, mesh screen and plaster.

Plans for 1715 North Bronson call for a standard array of communal amenities, including a ground-floor fitness center and an outdoor swimming pool.  Additionally, the building's seventh floor would feature a residential club room and an outdoor sky deck with views of the Hollywood Hills.

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

More Housing Coming to Howard Hughes Center

Construction underway on Altitude at Howard Hughes Center

Nearly three decades after work first began on Westchester's Howard Hughes Center, construction is slated to begin soon on a low-rise residential development which would complete the build-out of the mixed-use campus.

Earlier this month, Dallas-based Mill Creek Residential Trust announced plans to build the Village at Howard Hughes Center, a 375-unit apartment complex.  The project will rise from an approximately three-acres of land at 5901 and 6055 Center Drive, creating three six-story buildings with ground-level parking garages.  When completed in 2018, the low-rise development will feature spacious outdoor courtyards and multiple rooftop entertainment decks.

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Excavation Underway for Hollywood Office Building

Earlier this month, developer Hudson Pacific Properties commenced excavation for Icon, a 14-story office tower on the Sunset Bronson Studios campus (SBS).

The 200-foot tall edifice, designed by architecture firm Gensler, will rise from the corner of Sunset Boulevard and Van Ness Avenue, creating a total of 315,000 square feet of creative office space.  Artistic renderings portray a mid-rise structure, described by the Architect's Newspaper as consisting of "five rectangular, stacked volumes, offset horizontally to create exterior terraces."

Icon is part of a $150 million expansion of Sunset Bronson Studios which will completely remodel the eastern half of the approximately 10-acre campus.  Plans call for the construction of a 90,000-square-foot production facility and a 1,600-car parking garage along Van Ness Avenue, both of which broke ground last September.  The project also includes the refurbishment of the SBS Executive Office Building, a 1920s structure which once housed the headquarters of Warner Brothers.

The Los Angeles Times previously reported that completion of the SBS expansion is expected by late 2016.

Monday, February 16, 2015

Luxury Hotel Tower Rising in Beverly Hills

The modest Beverly Hills skyline will soon be augmented by a striking five-star hotel tower.

Earlier this year, a team of investors lead by the Alagem Capital Group broke ground on the new Waldorf Astoria Beverly Hills.  The $200 million project, located at the high-profile intersection of Wilshire and Santa Monica Boulevards, will consist of a 12-story tower with 170 guest rooms, luxury retail establishments, and other ancillary uses.

Designs from architecture firms Gensler and Pierre-Yves Rochon call for a structure primarily clad in white stone, featuring strong horizontal lines and curving forms which are typical of the Streamline Moderne style.  The building's interior will maintain a similar aesthetic, featuring a "rich palette of burnished bronze, warm white stone, [and] Lalique installations throughout."

Beverly Hills Waldorf Astoria (All images: Waldorf Astoria)

Friday, February 13, 2015

Proposed Korean American National Museum Adding Housing

Future home of the Korean American National Museum (Image: New American Media)

According to new information from the Los Angeles Department of City Planning, a proposed development which would house the Korean American National Museum (KANM) has received a design overhaul.

Revised plans for the half-acre property at 605 South Vermont Avenue call for a seven-story structure featuring 101 apartments above two floors of museum space.  An earlier report from New America Media indicated that the museum would encompass 45,000 square feet of floor area, with amenities such as a community auditorium, two exhibition halls and a study room.  However, the exact nature of the proposed changes to KANM are currently unclear.  The original plan for the museum had called for a standalone three-story facility.

More definitively, city records indicate that KANM is planning for a three-level garage with parking accommodations for up to 146 vehicles and 83 bicycles.  The proposed garage would offer slightly less parking than required by code, and will thus require a discretionary approval from the city.

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Wilshire Office Towers Becoming Apartments

Jamison Services, one of Southern California's largest office landlords, recently filed plans with the City of Los Angeles to convert two of its numerous Wilshire Boulevard office buildings for residential use.

The first of these properties is a 13-story tower located near MacArthur Park.  A case filing from the Los Angeles Department of City Planning indicates that the renovated building at 2500 Wilshire Boulevard would contain 248 residential units, in lieu of its current 230,000 square feet of office space.  The developer also states that the project will utilize exemptions from "density limits, floor area, yard requirements and [a] site plan review."

The mid-rise structure, completed in 1969, would likely face competition from a second mixed-use development planned across the street.  The New York-based Somerset Group, owner of the parking lot at 2525 Wilshire Boulevard, is currently pursuing construction permits for a seven-story residential-retail complex on the property.

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

New Developments Reshaping Koreatown

The Vermont Apartments

Soaring high above Wilshire Bouelvard, the $200 million Vermont Apartments serve as ostentatious symbols of the recent influx of upscale housing into previously downmarket Koreatown.  The densely populated community, long overlooked due to its isolation from the Southern California freeway network, has recently become a residential hotspot due in part to its relative affordability and thriving night life.  Consequently, the market has responded with dozens of new and revived residential developments in all reaches of the neighborhood, including adaptive reuse projects and ground-up construction.

Now, this ongoing wave of multi-family development is pushing east towards MacArthur Park.  Take a quarter-mile trip down Virgil Avenue, where a series of new mixed-use developments are replacing blighted properties on Koreatown's eastern fringe.

Monday, February 9, 2015

Details Emerge for Proposed Hollywood Hotel

Last October, vague plans emerged for a 12-story hotel on a half-acre property located just north of Sunset Boulevard.  Now, a document from the Central Hollywood Neighborhood Council has finally revealed details about the once mysterious development.

According to the agenda for an upcoming meeting of the Council's Planning and Land Use Management Committee, the proposed mid-rise structure at 1523 Wilcox Avenue would feature 220 guest rooms and multiple food and beverage venues.  Plans filed with the City of Los Angeles call for a 13,000-square-foot restaurant and bar which would be attached to the building's lobby.  Other amenities would include a second-floor pool and bar, a penthouse lounge, a rooftop deck and underground parking accommodations for up to 125 vehicles.

Situated midway between Hollywood and Sunset Boulevards, 1523 Wilcox Avenue would provide guests with easy access to a variety of tourist attractions.  Not unexpectedly, it is one of several hotel projects currently planned or underway on surrounding blocks.  North on Selma Avenue, construction kicked off last year for the highly-anticipated Dream Hollywood.  To the south, a Jack in the Box restaurant near Amoeba Music is also expected to give way for a hotel.

Friday, February 6, 2015

New Condominium Complex Headed to Burton Way

Construction is scheduled to begin next month on a high-end residential development adjacent to L'Ermitage Beverly Hills.

Empire at Burton Way, a luxury condominium complex from Los Angeles-based Empire Property Group, will rise from a roughly quarter-acre property at 9265 Burton Way.  Plans for the five-story edifice call for 23 residential units -including two reserved for very-low income households- and underground parking accommodations for up to 48 vehicles.

Empire Property Group will entice potential residents with their project's close proximity to a variety of high-end stores and restaurants.  Prominent shopping districts along Rodeo Drive and Robertson Boulevard are both located within a one-mile radius of the development.  Further incentives will include hotel-like amenities and a a scenic rooftop common area.

Thursday, February 5, 2015

The Broad to Open September 20, 2015

The Broad (Image: Gary Leonard)

The Broad, the new contemporary art museum in downtown Los Angeles, announced today that it will open to the public on Sunday, September 20, 2015.

Built by philanthropists and longtime art collectors Eli and Edythe Broad, The Broad will welcome visitors from near and far with free general admission to an inaugural installation drawn from two collections of more than 2,000 works of contemporary art. Designed by Diller Scofidio + Renfro (DS+R), The Broad makes its home in the city’s burgeoning Grand Avenue arts corridor, across the street from architectural icons including Walt Disney Concert Hall and the Museum of Contemporary Art.

“Edye and I are delighted to announce an opening date, and we are already looking forward to welcoming the public to our museum,” said Eli Broad. “It is our privilege to give this museum, the works in our art collections and a sizeable endowment and free admission as a gift to the people of Los Angeles.”

“When we open our doors on September 20, we will be greatly advancing Eli and Edye’s vision of sharing contemporary art with the broadest possible audience,” said Joanne Heyler, founding director of The Broad. “The combination of innovative architecture and provocative art will make visiting The Broad an experience to remember.”

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Construction Cranes Rises in City West

With the recent installation of a tower crane, construction is now going vertical at City West's massive Sixth & Bixel development.

Work kicked off for the $200 million project last year, when Vancouver-based Holland Partner Group began converting a 1920s medical office tower at the corner Sixth Street and Lucas Avenue into apartments.  The eight-story edifice, designed by A.C. Martin, will consist of 42 residential units when open in mid-2015.  Holland Partner Group will reserve 27 of the building's units as affordable housing, in accordance with a density bonus granted to the project.

The project also includes the construction of two colorful six-story buildings, designed by architecture firm Togawa Smith Martin.  The low-rise structures will comprise an additional 606 residential units, seated above 25,000 square feet of ground-floor commercial space and a 762-car garage.  Plans call for a slew of residential amenities in this phase of the project, including a fitness center, an outdoor pool, and multiple rooftop decks.

A complete build out of the 900,000-square-foot complex is expected by late 2016.  By total number of residential units, Sixth & Bixel is the currently the second largest development under construction in Downtown, following Carmel Partners' monolithic G8 apartments.

Monday, February 2, 2015

Low-Rise Apartments Begin Work in Westlake

In the latest example of investment dollars spilling outside the Central City freeway ring, construction has started on another mixed-use development in Westlake.

Last month, Los Angeles-based Canfield Development broke ground on a low-rise apartment building on a vacant half-acre lot at 1329-1419 West Seventh Street.  The residential-retail complex, first reported in 2013, will consist of a seven-story structure featuring 87 studio, one-and-two-bedroom apartments above nearly 1,000 square feet of ground-level retail space.  Plans filed with the city call for multiple communal amenities, including a 135-car garage, an on-site fitness center, and a third-level recreation deck .  The project is also the beneficiary of a 25% density bonus due to its inclusion of five very-low income housing units.

Like many recent developments west of the Harbor Freeway, the Seventh Street Apartments will employ wood-frame construction and a painted plaster finish.  Designs from Nadel Architects also incorporate substantial glass and metal paneling to obscure two above-grade parking levels.

A precise completion date for the project is currently unclear.  The Seventh Street Apartments are the third market-rate apartment complex to break ground in Westlake since the beginning of 2014, following two larger developments located on Wilshire Boulevard and Sixth Street.

1402 W. 7th Street (All images: Canfield Development and Nadel Architects)

Friday, January 30, 2015

Controversial Arts District Complex Begins Work

After successfully navigating an unanticipated level of neighborhood resistance, work is finally getting underway on another large mixed-use development in Downtown Los Angeles' burgeoning Arts District.

Yesterday, while walking the neighborhood with Downtown icon Brigham Yen, a small crew was spotted prepping the dirt lot at 950 East Third Street for construction.  The six-acre site, which is being developed in tandem by Associated Estates Realty and Legendary Development, will eventually birth a series of five-and-six-story buildings containing 472 apartments and 21,000 square feet of retail space.

The design of the 400,000-square-foot complex, crafted by Kava Massih Architects, is intended to match the existing feel and aesthetics of the Arts District.  Renderings indicate that the project would include numerous murals, as well as industrial-themed exterior finishes with metal accents.

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Blighted Hollywood Property to Make Way for Apartments

Yesterday, the Department of City Planning published an environmental report for 5750 Hollywood Boulevard, a mixed-use development which would rise from a forlorn one-acre property located just east of the 101 Freeway.

Plans call for a seven-story structure, featuring 161 dwelling units, 5,700 square feet of ground-level retail space, and parking accommodations for 271 vehicles and 96 bicycles.  The project would incorporate numerous residential amenities, including a media room, fitness center, outdoor pool and spa deck, and a rooftop terrace with panoramic views of Hollywood.

The low-rise building would provide a mixture of studio apartments, one-and-two-bedroom dwellings and live-work lofts.  Developer 5750 Hollywood Boulevard, LLC also intends to set aside 14 residential units for very low income households in exchange for an SB-818 density bonus.  Proposed incentives include increases to the property's allowable height and floor area ratio.

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Another Stalled South Park Tower Comes Back to Life

Rumors began circulating late last year, but a new case filing from the Department of City Planning makes it official: phase two of Apex has been resurrected.

Documents on file with the City of Los Angeles indicate that the revived development would feature a 28-story residential tower at the southwest corner of 9th and Flower Streets.  Earlier plans for the building had called for approximately 280 dwelling units and ground-floor retail space.  An adjacent triangular site at the southeast corner of 9th and Figueroa Streets would give way for a two-story standalone retail structure.

The existing Apex tower was originally developed as part of a three-phase condominium complex known as Concerto.  The project, which was built by Sonny Astani, experienced a litany of setbacks due to the global financial crisis of the late 2000s.  Following the bankruptcy of his lender, Astani was forced to sell the nearly-finished building in 2011.  Apex and its adjacent development site eventually came into the possession of ST Residential, which opened the tower as luxury apartments in 2012.

An exact timeline and design for the project is currently unclear.  When initially proposed one decade ago, plans for the Concerto complex called for a twin-tower design from architecture firm HansonLA.

Sunday, January 25, 2015

New Union Station Bus Platform to Begin Construction in April

The relocated Silver Line bus station (All Images: Metro)

According to a memo from an upcoming meeting of Metro's Service Councils, construction will begin in April on a new center-median bus platform linking the El Monte Busway to Union Station's Patsaouras Transit Plaza.

The $31 million project, funded in part by a discretionary grant from the Federal Transit Administration, will improve vertical and horizontal pedestrian circulation within the historic transportation hub.  Currently, passengers on Metro's Silver Line buses must disembark on Alameda Street, before crossing a freeway on-ramp and walking a quarter-mile to access trains and buses at Union Station.  The relocated bus platform, situated directly above Vignes Street, will shorten transfer times by providing a dedicated passageway to Union Station's East Portal.

Besides its obvious benefits for transit passengers on the El Monte Busway, the project also includes a stunning "Wind Bridge," designed by California artist Ned Kahn.  The 500-foot long structure will be adorned with perforated aluminum panels, arranged to "move with the wind, resulting in complex rippling patterns of light and shade created by sunlight penetrating in between the two layers of perforated metal."

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Latest La Brea Mixed-User Unveiled

904 La Brea Avenue (All images: Shubin + Donaldson Architects)

A recently published environmental report from the Department of City Planning has revealed new details about the 904 La Brea Project, a mixed-use development planned near the border between Los Angeles and West Hollywood.

The seven-story development, slated for a roughly one-acre site at the corner of La Brea and Willoughby Avenues, would feature 169 apartments and approximately 37,000 square feet of of ground-floor retail space.  Proposed dwellings would include studio, one-and-two-bedroom units, with approximately 14 apartments set aside for very low income households.  Residential amenities would include a pool, gymnasium and a communal outdoor deck.

A partially-underground garage would be included with the project, providing parking accommodations for up to 303 vehicles and more than 200 bicycles.  Residents would be afforded 192 total parking spaces, situated on two above-grade levels.  111 basement parking spaces would be available for use by retail tenants and their customers.

Lots of Progress on Expo-Adjacent TOD

Amidst the rumble of passing Expo Line trains, construction pushes ahead for the highly anticipated development known as Access Culver City.

The mixed-use complex from Greystar Real Estate Partners broke ground just over one year ago at the intersection of Washington and National Boulevards, directly across the street from Metro's Culver City Station.  When completed in July, the five-story structure will offer 115 apartment units above 30,000 square feet of ground-floor commercial space and a subterranean parking garage.  Proposed amenities include a swimming pool and an on-site recreation center.

The building, designed by architecture firm Togawa Smith Martin, will feature a stucco exterior accented by metal siding and steel canopies.  Access, which is seeking LEED Silver certification, will also feature lush landscaping, a private courtyard and a street-fronting plaza.

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Arcadia Property Making Way for Townhomes

Artist's rendering of Griffin (Image: Brandywine Homes)

Brandywine Homes has closed on a .82-acre site at 136 Las Tunas Drive in Arcadia, with plans to build 178 three-story contemporary townhomes.  Groundbreaking for the community, dubbed Griffin, is scheduled to break ground in April 2015, with delivery expected by December 2015.

"The increased demand for housing in Arcadia has pushed pricing for single-family detached homes into ranges many people cannot afford," said David Barisic, Vice President of Sales and Marketing for Brandywine.  "These townhomes will certainly be more affordable than the majority of what is on the market now."

Brandywine plans to build 17 three-story, two-, three-and-four-bedroom townhomes ranging from 1,265 to 2,205 square feet in size.  Most of the units will offer full side-by-side garages, and all will feature contemporary architecture, stainless steel appliances and solid-surface counters.

Residents of the new community, located between El Monte Avenue and South Santa Anita Avenue, will have access to the Arcadia school system.  The development is located just over 3 miles away from the 210 Freeway, with proximity to major destinations such as Santa Anita Park, Westfield Santa Ana, the Santa Anita Golf Course and downtown Pasadena.

Prices for the townhomes are expected to range from the high $600,000s to the high $900,000s.

Renderings Revealed for Pico Union Hotel Development

Planning documents presented to the Los Angeles City Council have unveiled renderings for a new hotel development in Pico Union.

The low-rise Hotel Olympia would be built a one-acre property at 1700 West Olympic Boulevard, located within a half-mile of LA Live and approximately one mile from the Los Angeles Convention Center.  Plans from developer CK Hospitality call for a five-story structure containing 149 guest rooms above 8,600 square feet of street-level restaurant space.  The hotel would feature a standard array of guest amenities, including a banquet room, outdoor pool deck and a 113-car underground garage.

Designs from architecture firm PKA & Associates orient the tallest portion of the building towards Olympic Boulevard, so as to maintain better harmony with adjacent residential buildings to the south.  Hotel Olympia would feature a variety of exterior finishes, including tile, tinted glass and corrugated metal.

The project, which first began meandering through the City Planning process in 2013, requires multiple discretionary approvals to begin construction.  Most notably, CK Hospitality has requested a General Plan Amendment from the highway-oriented commercial and medium residential land use designations to a community commercial land use designation throughout the entire site.

Monday, January 19, 2015

Crane Action Hits the Sunset Strip

High above the world famous Sunset Strip, four construction cranes are hard at work on a transformative mixed-use complex from Los Angeles-based CIM Group.

The Sunset La Cienega development - designed by a team consisting of SOM, LOHA and Mia Lehrer + Associates - will create four mid-rise buildings with condominiums, hotel rooms and ground-floor commercial space.  Work on the $300 million project began in earnest nearly two years ago, with the clearing of several vacant structures at the intersection of Sunset and La Cienega Boulevards.

The mid-rise buildings, which will occupy two corners of the intersection, faced numerous hurdles prior to breaking ground in mid-2013.  Originally approved in 1999 under the name of Sunset Millennium, the project remained stalled for nearly fifteen amidst litigation and weak market conditions.  CIM Group purchased the roughly five-acre property and its development rights in 2011.

Thursday, January 15, 2015

Mysterious Mixed-Use Development Planned on Olympic Boulevard

With trendy hotels and apartment complexes literally springing up on all sides, a drab one-story commercial building in South Park is now slated for redevelopment.

Plans were filed with the city late last week for a new mixed-use development at northeast corner of Hill Street and Olympic Boulevard.  The project's laconic case filing betrays little in the way of details, neither specifying the proposed building's height or its intended uses.  The only hint thus far is a 2013 permit application from the Department of Building and Safety, which called for the construction of a 22-story high-rise tower featuring hotel rooms, office space, condominiums and ground-floor retail.

If and when the proposed development comes to fruition, it will find itself in the midst of a neighborhood bustling with construction activity.  More than 1,000 residential units are currently in development within a two-block radius of the project site at 940 South Hill Street, with substantially more scheduled to break ground within the next two years.

Adaptive reuse projects are also in store for several historic buildings along the adjacent Broadway Corridor.  Following in the footsteps of the Ace Hotel, which opened last January in the former United Artists Building, the Kor Group is currently converting the former Case Hotel at 11th Street and Broadway into a boutique inn.  On the opposite side of the intersection, the Hearst Corporation has revived plans to transform the former headquarters of the Los Angeles Herald-Examiner into creative offices.

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

More Residential Over Retail in K-Town

Shocker of the week: another underutilized Koreatown property is slated for redevelopment.

Plans were filed late last year for a new residential-retail complex on a roughly half-acre property at 3100 West Eighth Street.  The proposed development would consist of a seven-story structure, featuring 100 residential units above ground-floor commercial space.  A density bonus requested by the developer indicates that at least some of the units would be reserved as affordable housing.

The project, which would replace a two-story commercial building, is located within walking distance several large-scale residential developments.  North on Berendo Street, developer Century West Partners is midway through construction on the second phase of their K2LA apartment complex.  West along Eighth Street, a proposed 27-story residential tower lingers in development hell, with no clear path out.

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Guess Who Wants Another Pedestrian Bridge?

Less than one year after an ugly controversy surrounding a proposed pedestrian bridge at the half-destroyed Da Vinci complex, Geoff Palmer is ready to rehash the same storyline on Broadway.

According to a case filing from the Los Angeles Department of City Planning, the Beverly-Hills-based developer intends to construct a pedestrian bridge across Olympic Boulevard, linking the two halves of his Broadway Palace development.  The project, which broke ground in September, will offer 686 apartments and over 50,000 square feet of ground-floor retail when completed.

Palmer frequently incorporates pedestrian bridges into his Italian-themed apartment complexes, most of which flank the Central City freeway ring.  In May 2014, he argued to the City Planning Commission that a bridge was necessary at the Da Vinci complex to for both internal circulation and protection from a nearby homeless encampment.  While that argument was rejected by the Commission, their ruling was later overturned with the help of 14th District Councilman Jose Huizar, who represents the majority of Downtown.

However, Palmer's other developments are located on the neighborhood's fringes, isolated from significant pedestrian traffic.  The same cannot be said for Broadway Palace, which is located near the popular Ace Hotel and a slew of upcoming residential-retail complexes.  A bridge over Olympic Boulevard, though not specifically prohibited by the Broadway Design Guide, would seem to conflict with the pedestrian-friendly neighborhood envisioned by the Bringing Back Broadway initiative.

First Look at Proposed Fountain/Cahuenga Mixed-User

Last summer, Florida-based real estate investment trust Rescore purchased approximately two acres of land in Hollywood, with the intention of building a low-rise mixed-use complex.  Half-a-year later, a set of environmental documents published by the Los Angeles Department of City Planning has revealed new details about the proposed development at 1311 North Cahuenga Boulevard.

Designs from Nadel Architects call for a seven-story structure, spanning across two properties bounded by Cahuenga Boulevard, Cole and Fountain Avenues.  The proposed building would range from 82 to 110 feet in height due to elevation changes through the project site.  The land is currently developed with a series of small structures, including two office buildings, a single-family home and an automotive repair shop.

The $110 million project would feature 369 residential units, micro units, studio, one-, two-and-three bedroom apartments.  These units would reportedly command rents catering to "the working person," as opposed to those in more expensive complexes in development along Vine Street, Hollywood and Sunset Boulevards.

Monday, January 12, 2015

Grading/Shoring Permits Issued for Palmer's Broadway Palace

Broadway Palace (Image: Loopnet)

One month after the massive blaze which destroyed half of the unfinished Da Vinci apartments, developer Geoff Palmer is preparing to begin work on yet another Downtown residential-retail complex.

Earlier this month, grading and shoring permits were issued by the Department of Building and Safety for the second half of Broadway Palace, a mixed-use development planned near the border between South Park and the Historic Core.  The project, located at 928 South Broadway, would create 439 studio, one-and-two bedroom apartments in a low-rise and mid-rise.  Plans call for a ten-story building along Broadway, lined with 35,000 square feet of street-level commercial space.  On the eastern side of the property fronting Main Street, the building would stand six stories tall above ground-floor live-work units.

The design of Broadway Palace forges a stark contrast to Palmer's other Central City developments, all of which feature Italian-Renaissance-themed architecture.  Instead, the building will feature a terra cotta brick facade tailored to resemble the appearances of nearby historic buildings.  The project's ten-story height is also informed by the Broadway Design Overlay, which seeks to maintain the neighborhood signature mid-rise street wall.

Apartments and Retail Break Ground at Hollywood/Western

Work has finally begun on 5550 Hollywood Boulevard, a long-awaited mixed-use complex from developer Sonny Astani.  Designs from Los Angeles-based PSL Architects call for a six-story structure containing 280 apartments and slightly over 12,600 square feet of ground-floor commercial space.  The project will preserve and incorporate Falcon Studios, a two-story brick structure built in the 1920s which once served as a rehearsal studio for performers in Hollywood's golden age.

The $100 million development had previously faced opposition from two clients of attorney Robert Silverstein, both of whom sought to overturn 5550 Hollywood's approvals from the City Planning Commission.  The two appeals, which have since been dropped, argued that the project did not provide proper deference to historic structures such as Falcon Studios and the adjacent Mayer Building.

Astani's new residential-retail complex is the latest in a series of developments planned near the once-ignored Hollywood/Western subway station.  During the past two years, a shopping center and a new senior housing facility have opened up within walking distance of the busy intersection.  Further developments are also planned further west along Hollywood Boulevard, including a boutique hotel and a mixed-use development near the 101 Freeway.

Image: PSL Architects via Curbed LA