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