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.

3033 Wilshire Boulevard: 2014

In January, Colorado-based developer UDR Incorporated broke ground on an 18-story apartment tower at 3033 Wilshire Boulevard.  The $107 million development, currently the tallest building under construction in Koreatown, unexpectedly revived a long-forgotten proposal known as Circa on Wilshire.  Plans for the tower call for 190 residential units, seated above 5,500 square feet of retail space and a four-level parking garage.

Designs from Steinberg Architects give the building a series of protruding decks which will gradually change in shape and size while moving up the tower's mass.  The building's facade materials will consist primarily of glass.

3033 Wilshire Boulevard is scheduled for delivery in 2016.

3033 Wilshire Boulevard: 2016 (Image: Steinberg Architects)

Sixth and Virgil (Image: Century West Partners)

Almost directly across the street, Century West Partners is gearing up to begin work on a low-rise development known as Sixth and Virgil.  The mixed-use complex, designed by Santa Monica-based Killefer Flammang Architects, will entail a seven-story structure with 399 apartments and 20,000 square feet of ground-floor commercial space.  The project will rise from an unused 1.8-acre property which spans between Virgil and Commonwealth Avenues.

Sixth and Virgil will be Century West Partners' second major development in Koreatown, joining the nearly-finished K2LA complex located nearby on Berendo and New Hampshire Streets.

Sixth and Virgil

Continuing north, construction has progressed to the fifth and final floor of a new apartment building at the intersection of Virgil Avenue and Fifth Street.  The project, which is linked to the Schaffel Development Company, will consist of 74 apartments and a two-level subterranean parking garage. 

Plans for the low-rise complex have been in the works for more than one decade.  Catalina Limited Partnership, owner of the property at 442 South Virgil Avenue, originally received entitlements for the development in 2004.  Two mayoral administrations later, light has finally emerged at the end of the tunnel.


  1. perhaps the areas around 3rd, olympic, and western will stay the same, but a part of la's most vibrant district has fallen to gentrification. in a worst case scenario its a domino effect, and all of central la becomes like brooklyn (it may seem unimaginable but a lot can happen in 20, even 10 yrs). the original residents are pushed out to fringe, transit poor areas like the gateway cities. this is capitalism people.

    1. Gentrification is a very sensitive subject, particularly in places like Boyle Heights, Koreatown, etc. We need a more robust affordable/low-income housing program throughout the state to maintain mixed-income communities. The question is if you can actually get tax dollars redistributed to pay for those kinds of improvements.

      As you pointed out, a lot of similarities between Brooklyn and Central LA. Walking down the Fulton Street Mall even feels like walking down Broadway, albeit with shorter buildings.