DOWNTOWN LOS ANGELES - It sounds like a cliché to say that Downtown Los Angeles is one of the hottest real estate markets in the country, but even a casual observer of the community would have a hard time denying it.
Just consider the last five months, a period during which more than a dozen major projects were announced or began construction. These range from a new housing project on the old Park Fifth site across from Pershing Square by veteran developer MacFarlane Partners to the groundbreaking of Metropolis, a South Park mega-complex first proposed (in a far different form) 27 years ago. A plan is underway to turn the historic Case Hotel on Broadway into a four-star boutique establishment, and a new park in the Arts District is in the prep stage.
These efforts come on the heels of an already impressive surge in Downtown development. All across the community, from Chinatown to City West to the Arts District to South Park, apartment and condominium buildings are under construction. A slate of hotels are in the works, and there are even plans to build office space for both white collar and creative firms.
In the following pages, Los Angeles Downtown News runs down the latest information on 97 projects. Expect the community to keep buzzing for quite a while.
These projects were either publicly announced, were revived or gained prominence in the past five months.
200 S. MAIN ST.
Weintraub Real Estate Group is expected to close escrow within a month on a property south of the former St. Vibiana’s Cathedral (it now functions as an event space). Plans have been announced for an eight-story steel-and-glass edifice at 200 S. Main St. that would contain 238 residential units along with 3,600 square feet of ground-floor retail space. The effort is markedly scaled back from a pre-recession proposal, which envisioned a 41-story condominium tower. Weintraub officials have said they hope to break ground over the summer with a completion date 18 months later. Designs by Nadel Architects include a recreation area on the roof with a pool and spa, as well as pedestrian walkways connecting Los Angeles and Main streets on the north side of the project.
801 S. OLIVE ST.
San Francisco-based developer Carmel Partners last month revealed plans to build a 27-story residential tower at the corner of Olive and Eighth streets. There is no budget or timeline for groundbreaking, and the developer, which is currently in the midst of construction on a nearby 700-unit apartment complex that would include a Whole Foods, is seeking entitlements from the city. The proposed high-rise would feature 363 units (studios, one- and two-bedroom apartments and four penthouses) and 10,000 square feet of ground-floor retail. Designs also show a fifth-floor deck with a fitness center, a rooftop pool and lounge and several other open-air decks. The three-floor parking podium above street level would be wrapped in translucent panels and emit a soft glow at night.
1001 S. OLIVE ST.
Miami-based developer Lennar Multifamily announced last November that it plans to build a seven-story apartment building at the southwest corner of Olive Street and Olympic Boulevard. Officials hope to break ground in April or May, and construction should take about two years. The complex would feature 201 units — 12 of them two-story townhomes at street level — and 4,100 square feet of retail and commercial space. There would also be two floors of above-grade parking and one subterranean level, providing a total of 228 spaces. Designs show a third-floor pool and spa deck overlooking Olive Street, and a sky deck at the corner of Olympic and Olive on the top floor. There would also be a dog park on the east side of the property.
1000 S. GRAND AVE.
Houston-based Hanover Company is embarking on a seven-story apartment building at 1000 S. Grand Ave., adjacent to Lennar Multifamily’s proposed seven-story rental complex. The 274-unit structure will break ground in the second quarter, according to consultant Jim Ries of Craig Lawson & Co., with construction taking 18-24 months. Designs by TCA Architects feature glass balconies on the majority of the street-side units. Initial plans call for 35 studios, 146 one-bedroom apartments and 93 two-bedroom residences. Approximately 12,000 square feet of retail and commercial space would wrap around Grand Avenue and Olympic Boulevard and feature outdoor seating. The project would include 252 parking spaces for residents.
Developer Izek Shomof purchased the Historic Core’s Alexandria Hotel last September, and his company Pacific Investments has been undertaking cosmetic improvements inside the building at 501 S. Spring St. The renovations include restorations to the Palm Court ballroom and other spaces around the building; no major renovation is slated at this time, said Pacific Investments Vice President Eric Shomof. There is no timeline or planned budget for the project, he added. The company is also looking into changing the retail components on the building’s ground floor, though no new tenants have been signed. The majority of the building currently operates as an apartment complex.
ARTS DISTRICT PARK
The city Bureau of Engineering is working with the Department of Recreation and Parks to create a $1.6 million, half-acre park at Fifth and Hewitt streets, just south of Urth Caffe in the Arts District. The money has been secured through Quimby fees, which developers pay for park creation. Community meetings have been held to glean public input on the project, and two conceptual designs are currently on the table. Each offers six- to eight-foot fences with an eight-foot wall for mural art, outdoor eating areas and plaza space, a playground, shade trees around the perimeter, concrete seating, and security and nighttime lighting. Neither design includes a dog run, though pet owners would be allowed to bring leashed dogs into the park, city officials have said. The park is expected to open by summer 2015.
Developers Frank Stork, Channing Henry and the Kor Group have purchased the Case Hotel, a 1924 building at 1106 S. Broadway, and plan to turn the 107,000-square-foot edifice into a four-star boutique hotel. The 13-story building, which is vacant now but recently housed facilities for the YWCA of Greater Los Angeles, sold late last year for $13.5 million. A hotel operator, timeline and building transformation details have not been revealed, though the acquisition team said it intends to redesign the red brick and stone masonry property while maintaining the historic structure’s integrity.
FOREST CITY IN SOUTH PARK
Two parcels adjacent to the historic Herald Examiner Building were purchased in late December by developer Forest City, which is also building Chinatown’s Blossom Plaza. Plans calls for two apartment buildings at the intersections of Broadway and Twelfth Street and Hill and Eleventh streets, according to K.C. Yasmer, Forest City’s development director. The developer is seeking entitlements from the city; neither the groundbreaking date nor the budget has been revealed. Although Forest City has not discussed specifics, previous plans by another developer called for 23- and 37-story structures on the sites.
HERALD EXAMINER BUILDING
San Francisco-based Hearst Corporation is revisiting plans announced before the recession to renovate the historic Herald Examiner Building at 1111 S. Broadway. Although details remain slim, the plan was jumpstarted by Hearst’s selling of two adjacent South Park parcels to developer Forest City. Hearst could begin work on the 1913 building in 12-18 months, according to Los Angeles Property Manager Doyle McDonald. The two-story building that was formerly the headquarters for William Randolph Heart’s Los Angeles newspaper operations has about 35,000 square feet of space on each floor. McDonald said the first floor would be used for retail while the second floor will be converted to creative office space.
LA PLAZA HISTORIC WALK
The LA Plaza de Cultura y Artes Foundation, which operates a museum and cultural center at 501 N. Main St. near the El Pueblo de Los Angeles Historical Monument, is looking for a partner to activate and develop two surface parking lots. The parcels, which total 3.7 acres, are adjacent to LA Plaza, which opened in 2011. LA Plaza officials say the goal is to re-create a historic trail from Union Station to Fort Moore, with a path featuring programming, tourist attractions, retail and more. Design proposals are due Feb. 28. No timeline or budget has been revealed.
MACFARLANE PARTNERS/PARK FIFTH SITE
Developer MacFarlane Partners has submitted plans to the Department of City Planning for a two-building residential complex at the former Park Fifth site, on the block north of Pershing Square. The proposal, downscaled from a previous plan for the site offered by another developer before the recession, calls for one 24-story tower with 300 units and about 11,000 square feet of commercial space. The second building would be a seven-story, 315-unit structure with approximately 6,000 square feet of ground floor commercial space. No timeline or budget have been revealed.
MACK URBAN PROJECT
Last year Mack Urban, a newly formed consortium of real estate heavyweights including Downtown-based Urban Partners, purchased six acres of land (spread across six parcels) for more than $80 million. The developer this month submitted plans to the Department of City Planning to build four structures on four of those parcels. A residential tower and a hotel would rise on two adjacent sites near Olive and Twelfth streets. Two other sites near Olive Street and Pico Boulevard would hold two residential buildings (apartments and possibly condominiums) anchored by ground-floor retail and office space. The sites will be connected by large swaths of green space, per Mack Urban’s aim to create a more park-like setting in the area. The developer is partnering with AECOM Capital, the investment fund for L.A.-based AECOM Technology Corp., on the estimated $750 million project. The architect will be AC Martin.
Construction on a long-delayed housing project on the Megatoys site in the Arts District began last fall. A joint venture of Lowe Enterprises, Megatoys and institutional investors advised by J.P. Morgan Asset Management is behind the two-building, 320-unit apartment complex. Crews have completed excavation on the site at 905 E. Second St., said Tom Wulf, senior vice president of Lowe Enterprises. Designs by Togawa Smith Martin Architects call for two five-story buildings between First and Second streets flanking Garey Street. The $60 million development, which is scheduled to open in the third quarter of 2015, will include 15,000 square feet of retail and restaurant space with outdoor dining. The apartments will be studio to two-bedroom units with an average size of 728 square feet. Residences will have open floor plans with features including gourmet kitchens, quartz countertops, and a washer and dryer. The project will contain four courtyards, one dedicated to pets. Another courtyard will offer a pool, spa and sundeck with grilling areas, fire pits and an outdoor lounge.
Developer Sonny Astani is planning a six-story, 218-unit residential project at 1501-1521 W. Wilshire Blvd. He hopes to break ground by April, with construction lasting about 18 months. Plans filed with the city for Valencia, as the project has been dubbed, also call for about 4,400 square feet of ground-floor retail space, open courtyards and balconies. Astani is working with Killefer Flammang Architects for the City West building’s design. At astanienterprises.com.
950 E. THIRD ST.
Dilip Bhavnani, a managing member of Legendary Development, said a groundbreaking is expected this spring for a 472-apartment project at 950 E. Third St. in the Arts District. The $150 million complex will rise on a six-acre site adjacent to the Southern California Institute of Architecture. The project, which will contain three structures of five to six stories, has secured city entitlements and will be built in one phase. Construction is expected to take about three years.
The Central City Development Group continues to search for financing for an apartment complex at 1027 Wilshire Blvd. in City West, said the firm’s Hamid Behdad. The company is partnering on the proposed 376-unit project with the Amidi Real Estate Group. The development would be across the street from 1010 Wilshire, a corporate housing complex that Amidi created. The building would also contain 6,500 square feet of retail and 5,000 square feet of office space. The timeline will depend on how long it takes to secure financing, said Behdad.
AVA LITTLE TOKYO
Work continues on both buildings in the Little Tokyo project being developed by Avalon Bay Communities, said Irwin Yau, a designer and principal at TCA Architects. Phase one is a 104-unit, six-story apartment building at the southeast corner of Second and Los Angeles streets. It will include 13,500 square feet of retail space and is scheduled to open in late summer. Framing is complete on phase two, which will hold 176 rental units along with some street-level townhouses facing a promenade. Completion of phase two is expected late this year. The complex will offer studio and one- to three-bedroom apartments. Amenities in the project will include a two-level fitness center and a sixth-floor deck with skyline views, a bar and a movie wall.
Pre-leasing is underway for the $154 million Avant, which will bring 443 rental units to 1360 S. Figueroa St. The South Park complex will hold studio, one- and two-bedroom apartments as well as live-work residences above 11,000 square feet of retail space. The project, near L.A. Live, Staples Center and the Convention Center, will include a fitness center, an outdoor pool, a dog run and four 750-square-foot roof decks featuring fireplaces and barbecues. Tours will begin at the end of the month with the first move-ins expected in mid-March, according to an Avant representative. Residences will range from 561-1,035 square feet. Move-ins are expected to begin in late March. At
BALTIMORE AND KING EDWARD HOTELS
The upgrade of the Baltimore and King Edward hotels continues, said Eric Shomof, vice president of Pacific Investments and the son of longtime Downtown developer Izek Shomof. The Shomofs purchased the buildings at Fifth and Los Angeles streets in 2012 and have been overseeing a phased upgrade of the 265-unit Baltimore and the 150-room King Edward hotels; they have said the work will not displace residents of the buildings. An upgraded King Eddy Saloon has reopened, and Eric Shomof said a pizza place will be arriving soon. Across the street, a tattoo shop will open at the Baltimore Hotel, and the Leland Hotel, also part of the project, will get an electronic cigarette store and a clothing outlet dubbed Massive. The ground-floor retail spaces had been used for storage or were shut down for more than 30 years.
Move-ins for the final phase of the Barker Block are expected to begin this month, said Tripp Dubois of the Kor Group, which is helping market the condominiums for developers CityView and Blackstone (Kor Group developed the 241-condominium first phase in 2006). Model units opened at 527 Molino St. in the Arts District in January, one month after the sales gallery began operating. The $25 million second phase has created 68 lofts and townhomes in the nearly century-old building; prices start in the $400,000s in the structure originally built for the Barker Furniture Company. The 72,451-square-foot complex offers lofts that range from 650-2,000 square feet and townhomes that are 1,100-1,300 square feet. Interior elements include steel staircases with wood steps and dual-pane windows. The project also features exposed brick, heavy timber beams and other historic elements. At barkerblock.com.
BROADWAY AND OLYMPIC APARTMENTS
Historic Core developer Barry Shy has said he is looking to create three housing structures near Broadway and Olympic Boulevard. One would transform a 12-story building immediately south of the newly opened Ace Hotel into 150 apartments. Shy also bought the adjacent parking lot north of Broadway and Olympic. There, he plans to create 250 units in a new building that will rise to about 13 stories along Broadway and about 20 stories along Olympic Boulevard. Then, at 916 S. Hill St., which is currently a parking lot, Shy plans to build another 250 units in a 20- or 21-story tower. Shy said he paid $30 million collectively for the two Broadway properties and the Hill Street site.
G.H. Palmer Associates’ 526-unit project at 909 W. Temple St. in City West will open by the end of the summer, said company head Geoff Palmer. The complex, designed in the same Italian-inspired style as some other G.H. Palmer projects (such as Downtown’s Orsini and Medici), will feature five stories of studio to two-bedroom apartments sitting above three floors of parking and 8,200 square feet of street-level retail. Some units will have balconies. There will also be some two-floor lofts with two bedrooms and two balconies. Amenities will include a pool, barbecue areas and a fitness center. At thedavinciapts.com.
EIGHTH AND GRAND APARTMENTS
Construction on San Francisco-based Carmel Partners’ 700-unit residential building at Eighth Street and Grand Avenue is continuing, with completion slated for the third quarter of 2015, according to Dan Garibaldi, Carmel’s senior vice president of development. The project broke ground in January 2013. In addition to the rental units, the development will include a 42,000-square-foot Whole Foods. Designs for the project feature floor-to-ceiling glass windows, balconies, a rooftop pool and central courtyards. This isn’t the only big Carmel project on Eighth Street — the developer in January announced plans for a 27-story tower at Eighth and Olive streets.
EIGHTH AND HOPE APARTMENTS
Atlanta-based developer Wood Partners has hit the highest point of construction on its 22-story tower at 801 S. Hope St., according to Director of Development Brian Hansen. The project is slated to open in the third quarter of this year. The tower will feature 290 one- and two-bedroom apartments with floor-to-ceiling windows, balconies, a pool deck and a six-story parking podium (two floors are below ground). There is also 5,000 square feet of ground-floor retail, though it is unclear what kind of tenants will take that space.
FOURTH AND BROADWAY TOWER
The first ground-up project for Historic Core developer Izek Shomof has grown from 22 stories to 36, said Eric Shomof, vice president of Pacific Investments. The building would offer up to 400 units on the southeast corner of Fourth Street and Broadway and would replace a one-story retail building with rooftop parking. Eric Shomof said it is too early to announce a groundbreaking date. A budget and design specifics have also not been announced.
Developer Sonny Astani and parking lot giant L&R Group purchased a three-acre site bounded by Twelfth and Olive streets, Pico Boulevard and Grand Avenue in 2012 with hopes of building a $245 million residential complex with 640 units. The site was then sold for $45 million to Scottsdale, Ariz.-based private equity firm Wolff Company last September. Astani has stayed on as a partner with Wolff to continue development of G12, as the project has been dubbed, and a groundbreaking is still slated for this year, he said. Astani declined to give a timeline. The project will rise in multiple phases, with the initial round of development calling for a seven-story building with 347 units. G12 would also have 42,000 square feet of retail. At astanienterprises.com.
Developer G.H. Palmer Associates’ $300 million, two-phase residential project near the University of Southern California is nearing completion: Phase two will be finished in April, and leases are already being signed, said company head Geoff Palmer. Both phases sit on a 9.4-acre parcel on Adams Boulevard and Flower Street and feature a combined 950 apartments, four swimming pools, two basketball courts and a sand volleyball court. The design is similar to G.H. Palmer Associates’ other Italian-themed projects in Downtown Los Angeles. Phase one of the Lorenzo opened in May 2013, offering one- to three-bedroom residences geared toward USC students, with some leases offered for individual beds. Floor plans bear Italian names such as the two-bed Botticelli and the six-bed Michelangelo. At thelorenzo.com.
NEW PERSHING APARTMENTS
Skid Row Housing Trust’s transformation of the former Pershing Hotel and Fifth and Main streets continues, and completion is expected by October, said Dana Trujillo, housing development director for SRHT. The renovation of the formerly 69-unit building will create studio and one-bedroom residences ranging from 350-500 square feet. Much of the building’s original historic facade has been preserved, though the roof of the structure was removed and will be replaced. The project will also provide social services offices, outdoor courtyard space and ground-floor commercial space along both Fifth and Main streets.
OLYMPIC AND BROADWAY APARTMENTS
A groundbreaking for developer Geoff Palmer’s two-building project on two parcels at Olympic Boulevard and Broadway is slated for late March, according to Palmer. The project design features a 10-story, 439-unit edifice on what is now a surface parking lot and a six-story, 247-unit building on a lot that has a small building (that structure will be demolished). The development, just south of the new Ace Hotel, is a partnership between Palmer and parking lot company L&R Group. While exact design elements are still unclear, the projects won’t have the Italian-inspired architecture of several other Downtown Palmer projects. Instead, the buildings will be clad in a brick veneer to better fit the neighborhood’s look. The project is still slated for a 2015 opening, according to G.H. Palmer Associates’ website.
OLYMPIC AND HILL APARTMENTS
The Hanover Company's 281-apartment complex is progressing on schedule, with construction crews putting in plumbing, said Aram Chahbazian of TCA Architects, which is handling the designs for the Houston-based developer. The project will have seven floors of housing along with 16,000 square feet of street-level retail. Chahbazian said they are "actively perusing" leases. Additionally, the ground floor would hold three live/work units. Hanover previously developed the nearby luxury apartment tower 717 Olympic.
The Vancouver-based Onni Group continues its work on a 32-story apartment tower at 888 S. Olive St. The project broke ground a year ago, and construction crews have now poured the concrete for the 14th floor, according to an Onni Group official. The $100 million Financial District structure will create 303 one-, two- and three-bedroom luxury apartments. Onni is targeting an opening in the first quarter of 2015. It is the firm’s first project in Downtown; Onni has plans for two additional Downtown developments.
Property owner Jade Enterprises continues to seek entitlements for the Onyx, a 410-unit, two-building complex on Pico Boulevard at Flower and Hope streets, according to a Jade spokesman. Although Jade has extensive holdings in the Fashion District, Onyx would be the company’s first Downtown residential project. The proposed development would rise on two side-by-side parking lots over 42,000 square feet of ground-floor retail and commercial space. No timeline or budget have been revealed.
A renovation of the Rosslyn Hotel is approximately 50% complete with the 99-unit Phase 1 finished, said Joseph Corcoran, director of planning and housing development for SRO Housing Corporation. The 264-unit affordable housing complex at Fifth and Main streets is slated to be finished by Halloween, he said. Currently work is proceeding on Phase 2 (165 units). The project involves the restoration of historic elements including the main lobby and the facade. SRO Housing bought the 1913 Historic Core edifice in 2010. The project cost, including acquisition of the building, is $33 million.
SARES-REGIS LITTLE TOKYO
Construction continues on a 240-apartment complex in Little Tokyo from developer Sares-Regis Group. The seven-story structure at 232 E. Second St. will include 51 studio, 112 one- and 77 two-bedroom apartments measuring up to 1,220 square feet. The first occupancies are expected in August 2015 and rents are projected to average $2,400 a month. The development will also hold some townhomes, more than 16,000 square feet of retail space and three levels of underground parking. At sares-regis.com.
Developer Barry Shy is still working on securing permits for a 40-story tower that would rise at 601 S. Main St. Shy said progress on the Historic Core development slowed when he changed the parking concept, moving it to Sixth and Main streets. The 350-unit effort would be Shy’s sixth Downtown apartment project, but his first ground-up effort. He hopes to break ground within six months. No budget has been revealed.
SPRING STREET APARTMENT TOWER
Downtown Management, which has turned three old Historic Core buildings into apartments, expects to finalize the design and engineering team for a proposed 40-story structure this month, said company vice president Greg Martin. Currently a parking lot on Spring Street between the Spring Arcade Building and the Alexandria Hotel, the high-rise is slated to have housing on top of six levels of parking and one floor of retail. Downtown Management had been planning a 12-story building for the site, but owner Joseph Hellen was not happy with the way the design was going, Martin said. The project does not yet have a budget or firm timeline.
Though construction on the $5 million project at 216 W. Fifth St. was slated to begin late last year, more delays have pushed back the timeline for the property sometimes referred to as the “ghost building.” Construction has not yet started on the annex of the Alexandria Hotel, according to the office of developer Nick Hadim. Hadim plans to turn the 1910 Historic Core structure into apartments (initial plans called for 28 units). That will require bringing the 104-year-old edifice up to code, potentially with a new staircase and redesigned floor plans. The building was originally an annex to the Alexandria, but bickering between two property owners led to it being walled off from the hotel in 1934.
The development firm Linear City hopes to begin move-ins shortly at The Elysian. The project has converted the eight-story former headquarters of the Metropolitan Water District at 1115 Sunset Blvd. into 96 apartments ranging from 700 to 1,800 square feet. Linear City, which previously developed the Arts District’s Biscuit Company and Toy Factory lofts, has transformed a 1973 building originally designed by William Pereira; the structure near Dodger Stadium has been empty for the last 20 years. The development will include a cafe with 2,000 square feet of indoor space and a 1,000-square-foot outdoor patio. The project’s name comes from its proximity to Elysian Park. At theelysian.la.
Developer Related Cos.’ Grand Avenue apartment tower finally has a name and an opening date: Related California President Bill Witte said the 19-story structure is being called The Emerson, and that move-ins will start in October, with leasing beginning over the summer. The $120 million rental edifice is rising on Grand Avenue just south of the under-construction Broad art museum, and will share a plaza with the museum when that building is finished. The tower will consist mostly of luxury units, but 20% of the 271 apartments will be set aside as affordable housing. Rents have not yet been determined. The building, designed by Miami-based Arquitectonica, will also contain a three-level parking structure.
TITLE INSURANCE BUILDING
A renovation of the 1928 Title Insurance Building is in the plan check stage, said Debbie Welsch of Bel Air-based Capital Foresight. The developer intends to convert the structure at 433 S. Spring St. into 216 residential units, with retail on the ground floor. Additionally, the company is looking to lease the second floor’s 40,000 square feet of space. The Historic Core building’s interior is used in many film and commercial shoots, Welsch said. Capital Foresight also has subleased the adjacent building, at 419 S. Spring St., to a hotel, but details have not been provided.
Jade Enterprises expects to receive entitlements by June on a 159-unit apartment complex in the Historic Core, according to a company spokesman. Jade, which has a long history in the Fashion District, has submitted plans for a seven-story building at 550 S. Main St. on what is now a parking lot. According to documents filed with the city, the project, dubbed Topaz, is just north of the Santa Fe Lofts at Sixth and Main streets and would stretch between Main and Los Angeles streets. The complex would include 23,000 square feet of retail and would offer studio, one-, two- and three-bedroom units. A groundbreaking could occur this year.
URBAN VILLAGE AT SOUTH PARK
Orange County-based development company Urban Village has sold the property it was intending to use for a housing complex to Lennar, said founder Brett Shaves. Urban’s plans had called for a seven-story, 100-unit building at 1027 S. Olive St. that would have four live/work residences on the ground floor. Lennar’s Scott Rynders, vice president of development for the project, could not be reached for comment. Shaves said his company completed the sale on Jan. 31. Lennar will merge the new site with an adjacent property at Olympic Boulevard and Olive Street, Shaves said. The site at 1027 S. Olive St., south of Olympic Boulevard, is currently a parking lot.
Developer Forest City has completed the demolition of the former Little Joe’s restaurant and is beginning the excavation and shoring process for the $100 million Blossom Plaza at 900 N. Broadway. An opening is expected in about 27 months, said Frank Frallicciardi, vice president of development at Forest City’s Los Angeles office. The developer is also beginning the leasing process for the 20,000 square feet of retail space that will be on the ground floor. The five-story Blossom Plaza will have 237 apartments (with 53 reserved for low-income residents), a 17,000-square-foot public plaza and a walkway connecting the Metro Gold Line station to Broadway in the heart of Chinatown. The project broke ground last year, nearly a decade after it had first been proposed.
The development team working on the massive City Market continues to put together an environmental impact report, said project spokesman Sean Rossall. The proposed development, overseen by City Market owner Peter Fleming, would transform the 1909 produce mart, today a collection of mostly unused warehouses bounded by Ninth, San Pedro, San Julian and 12th streets, into a $1 billion hub of housing, office space, hotel rooms and a college campus. The 10-acre development would ultimately include 945 residential units, 210 hotel rooms, 225,000 square feet of retail and 295,000 square feet of creative office space. The first phase calls for transforming two aged buildings: One would hold 150 housing units, and the other would be an office structure. It could be 20 years before the entire project is complete. At citymarketla.com.
A 4.6-acre site immediately east of Staples Center was sold in late December to Beijing’s Oceanwide Real Estate Group. For years the New York-based Moinian Group had been planning to build the massive mixed-use Figueroa Central project on the property, with 45- and 33-story towers, 220 hotel rooms and additional retail space. Moinian had received approvals from the city for the work, though it is as yet unknown how Oceanwide’s plans will differ from the original project. The property is currently used as two surface parking lots
Saeed Farkhondehpour continues to prepare a second phase of the Medallion project on the northeast corner of Fourth and Main streets in the Historic Core. The initial focus will be the creation of several dining establishments in some of the approximately 180 empty spaces that were originally supposed to hold small toy-oriented shops (the building is close to the Toy District). So far six restaurants have been announced for the updated complex, including Café Uzes, a 2,000-square-foot eatery by Tara Thomas of Traxx at Union Station, and Downtown outposts of Bigmista’s Barbecue and Bread Bar bakery. Farkhondehpour has also discussed plans to add 300 residential units in three buildings facing Main and Third streets.
Nearly 27 years after it was announced, the mixed-use mega-project Metropolis finally broke ground. A ceremony marking the start of construction took place on Feb. 14, just two weeks after Shanghai-based developer Greenland Group completed its purchase of the site from IDS Real Estate Group. The 6.33-acre Metropolis site is bounded by the 110 Freeway and Francisco, Eighth and Ninth streets, and the first phase of construction will create two towers joined by a large public plaza. One will be a 38-story building with about 300 units (it has not yet been revealed whether they will be rentals or for sale), while the other will be a 19-story hotel with 350 rooms. Both buildings are being designed by architecture firm Gensler. Construction on the first phase will take about 30 months, according to Gensler Managing Principal Robert Jernigan. Greenland and Gensler declined to discuss future phases, but a city memo indicates that there are three more towers planned for residential and office purposes. The entire project is budgeted at $1 billion.
ONE SANTA FE
The mammoth Arts District effort One Santa Fe is ahead of schedule, according to a sign posted on the construction site. Completion is now expected this summer. Last fall, the project that runs along Santa Fe Avenue across from the Southern California Institute of Architecture reached the end of vertical construction. The $160 million development will create 438 apartments and more than 78,000 square feet of retail space, including a 15,000-square-foot space slated for a grocery store. The complex, which from above resembles two snaking train cars, will hold six-story structures along with a 47,400-square-foot plaza facing Santa Fe Avenue and 802 underground parking spaces. Additionally, the Arts District Center for the Arts, a 5,300-square-foot gallery and community space, will open in summer 2015. One Santa Fe’s development team is comprised of Canyon-Johnson Urban Funds Investments, McGregor Company, Polis Builders, Cowley Real Estate Partners and Goldman Sachs Urban Investment Group. Michael Maltzan is the architect. At one-santafe.com.
A Grand Avenue plan that involves Frank Gehry roared back to life in November, when developer Related Cos. said it had reunited with the architect and was moving forward on a proposal to build two towers on the site of a current parking structure across the street from Walt Disney Concert Hall, and to do both buildings at once, rather than proceed in phases. A $2 billion version of the project had been proposed before the recession but stalled when the market turned, and Related began exploring a piecemeal process without Gehry. The current plan, which Related California President Bill Witte said is valued at $650 million, has been approved by the Grand Avenue Authority, a joint powers panel of the city, county and the successor agency of the defunct Community Redevelopment Association. Plans call for a residential tower that Witte has said would likely be between 420 and 480 feel tall, and would have 380-450 apartments. A second high-rise would create an approximately 300-room SLS Hotel and also hold some condominiums, said Witte. The other major component of the project is a podium with a stacked mix of shops and restaurants that would be situated around a central plaza that opens to Grand Avenue. Witte said the current goal is to begin construction in December 2015 and open by the end of 2018.
WILSHIRE GRAND REPLACEMENT
On Feb. 15, Korean Air orchestrated the world’s largest continuous concrete pour. More than 2,100 truckloads with 21,000 cubic yards of concrete (weighing 82 million pounds) were poured to form the building’s foundation in the spot of the old Wilshire Grand Hotel, said Sean Rossall, a spokesman for the $1 billion development. The project on the northwest corner of Seventh and Figueroa streets will be the tallest building west of the Mississippi; the 73-story tower will have 900 hotel rooms and 400,000 square feet of office space, along with retail and restaurant space. The project, being overseen by AC Martin, would be the first Downtown high-rise to utilize a sloped roof, instead of a flat surface to accommodate a full helipad. Construction is expected to be complete by the end of 2016, with move-ins taking place early the following year.
CIVIC AND NONPROFIT
The stretch of Broadway between First and Eleventh streets will be transformed as the city begins implementing the Broadway Streetscape Master Plan, a two-phase, multi-year project. The $1.5 million first phase, also known as the “dress rehearsal,” is underway and will reduce Broadway’s six lanes of traffic to three (two northbound, one southbound) by the end of summer. The city will use temporary and semi-permanent materials — think planters, flexible poles and paint on the street — to reduce the driving lanes, which will make room to “extend” the sidewalk and create protected zones for parking and loading. The city will eventually move into phase two, which is permanent construction of larger sidewalks, curb extensions, transit shelters and more. There is currently no timeline to start phase two, though the city has raised $4.6 million, enough to complete two blocks. The work, part of 14th District City Councilman José Huizar’s Bringing Back Broadway initiative, follows the recent opening of several major businesses on Broadway: the Ace Hotel, and the stores Urban Outfitters and Acne Studios. At
BUDOKAN OF LOS ANGELES
The fundraising effort continues for the Little Tokyo Service Center’s proposed $22 million sports and activities center, said Scott Ito, the project manager. The long-anticipated development would create a 40,000-square-foot facility on Los Angeles between Second and Third streets with a two-court gymnasium, a mezzanine with an outdoor terrace, community space and a rooftop park. The Budokan would be used for an array of sports, athletic tournaments, special events and community programming, and would be one of the only dedicated venues for martial arts tournaments and exhibitions in the region. Groundbreaking is expected in fall 2015 with completion approximately 12-14 months later.
Construction crews are continuing the excavation and preparation of a 3.6-acre site at the southwest corner of First Street and Broadway in anticipation of building a $400 million federal courthouse. A groundbreaking was held last August, and the approximately 600,000-square-foot project in the Civic Center will have 24 courtrooms and 32 judges’ chambers. It will also house district judges, jury assembly facilities, offices for the U.S. Marshals and other federal services. The new courthouse, which will replace one of Downtown’s most notorious eyesores, is being designed by Skidmore, Owings & Merrill Architects. Completion is expected by 2016.
FIGUEROA CORRIDOR BIKEWAY
Although the environmental impact report has been completed, Ninth District City Councilman Curren Price has asked the city to continue to study plans to remake Figueroa Street between Downtown and Exposition Park. During a Jan. 28 meeting of the council’s Planning and Land Use Management Committee, Price addressed the topic of a bikeway running from Seventh Street to Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard, with a spur along 11th Street. He asked for additional analysis on which parts of the corridor would require a lane separated from cars by a curb. The project would remake a three-mile section of Figueroa into a more bicycle- and pedestrian-friendly corridor. Officials from the city Department of Transportation are due to report back to the committee by early March. Currently, construction must be completed by Dec. 31, 2014, in order to use Prop 1C bond funds. Officials are seeking an extension for the deadline through the end of 2016. At myfigueroa.com.
FIRST AND BROADWAY PARK
The proposed First & Broadway Civic Center Park will be undertaken in two phases, starting with site demolition, and then proceeding to park development, said Tonya Durrell, a spokeswoman for the city Department of Public Works. The city purchased the long-blighted, formerly state-owned parcel in the Civic Center in June for $7.5 million. The site, across the street from City Hall and adjacent to the eastern portion of Grand Park, has been known as the “graffiti pit” because it was routinely tagged. Demolition will include removal of all aboveground and underground structures, shoring, excavation, backfill and re-compacting and grading, Durrell said. That is expected to be complete in August. The future park development will elicit input from stakeholders through community meetings, she said. No timeline or budget for the full project has been revealed.
GOOD SAMARITAN HOSPITAL EXPANSION
A topping-out ceremony marking the end of vertical construction on the Good Samaritan Hospital Medical Pavilion was held Jan. 13. The seven-story medical office building at Wilshire Boulevard and Witmer Street in City West is on pace to open in the second quarter of 2015, according to hospital spokeswoman Katrina Bada. The $80 million effort will create a 190,000-square-foot edifice with a pharmacy, an outpatient surgical center and five levels of physicians’ offices. The building will also house the hospital’s cardiology, orthopedics and primary care clinics.
HALL OF JUSTICE
The protective tarp around the building has been removed, the 1,000-space underground parking garage has been completed and construction crews are currently working on tenant improvements for the $234 million renovation of the Hall of Justice, said project spokesman Sean Rossall. Workers are continuing the improvements on the exterior, as well as implementing safety modifications for the interior portions of the 1925 structure at 211 W. Temple St. When finished, the first floor will feature a display area with some of the building’s historic elements including a cellblock that once held Charles Manson. The edifice was red-tagged after being damaged in the 1994 Northridge Earthquake. The revamped building will house the Sheriff’s Department and the District Attorney’s office. The expected completion date is late August, Rossall said.
LOS ANGELES RIVER
The future of the Los Angeles River is at a crossroads: The Army Corps of Engineers is expected to announce its choice of a revitalization plan within the next few weeks, according to a city representative. The Army Corps initially proposed a $450 million upgrade known as Alternative 13, which would restore habitats and open up access along 11 miles of the river. City officials, including Mayor Eric Garcetti, have pushed aggressively for the adoption of Alternative 20, an approximately $1 billion effort that would connect the river to Los Angeles State Historic Park and revitalize the waterway on a larger scale. Meanwhile, several projects to expand or restore parks along the river continue, including the Mountain Recreation and Conservation Authority’s expansion of Marsh Park in Elysian Valley and the city’s work on Albon Dairy Park in Lincoln Heights. At lariver.org.
LOS ANGELES STATE HISTORIC PARK
Area residents only have a little more time to see Los Angeles State Historic Park as it currently exists. Construction on a major renovation of the park is expected to start by the end of this month, according to State Parks Superintendent Sean Woods. The department is awaiting final budgets from Gov. Jerry Brown before work begins, he said. The $18 million-$20 million development will close the park on the edge of Chinatown for a full year to build a new amphitheater, a welcome pavilion, public restrooms, two 75-space parking lots and more. The plan will also revitalize some of the wetlands that could eventually connect to the Los Angeles River. At lashp.wordpress.con.
LOS ANGELES STREETCAR
In December, officials with the Downtown streetcar project hired URS Corporation to serve as project manager for the urban circulator, and a full environmental impact report will come by late spring, according to the office of 14th District City Councilman José Huizar. The proposed project, which would connect L.A. Live and the Civic Center with a main spine on Broadway, continues to seek funding. In late 2012 people who live in the vicinity of the streetcar’s proposed route voted to tax area property owners up to $85 million for what was billed as a $125 million development. However, city officials have since said that the cost of the project could reach about $325 million, including the moving of utilities. The streetcar team is now studying the cost of underground utility relocation and expects to have a firm number in the summer. Streetcar officials have said they hope to get a large chunk of the financing from the federal government. At streetcar.la.
A renovation of the historic Merced Theatre is continuing. An agreement to allow L.A. Opera to operate a public performance space inside the 1870 venue is pending before the city. Last April, the city approved creating a new studio inside the structure near the El Pueblo de Los Angeles Historical Monument to house its Channel 35 studio, which airs all council meetings and other events or programs related to city government. The $23 million project also includes seismic retrofitting and installation of an elevator. The project is expected to take about three years.
METRO BUS FACILITY
Concrete and rebar columns have sprouted out of the ground at the northeast corner of Vignes Street and Cesar Chavez Avenue, where the Metropolitan Transportation Authority is building the Division 13 Bus Maintenance and Operations Facility. The underground garage has been completed and the first and second floors are now being built, and according to a Metro representative the project is on track to open by the end of the year. The $104 million development is intended to hold 200 buses and will contain a multi-level garage, a fueling depot and areas for washing vehicles. The project is intended to meet Leadership in Energy & Environmental Design (LEED) Gold standards and will have, among other elements, a green roof, solar panels and a storm water reclamation system with an underground 275,000-gallon retention tank. The project will also create 397 parking spaces for District 13 employees.
PARKER CENTER REPLACEMENT
Three alternatives are being considered for Parker Center, the former headquarters of the Los Angeles Police Department. According to the Draft Environmental Impact Report, the Civic Center property could be rehabilitated, partially demolished or fully demolished with a new building rising, said Tonya Durrell, a spokeswoman for the city Department of Public Works. Under the first option, the faded 1955 structure would be rehabilitated with seismic retrofitting, fire safety improvements and upgrades to ensure energy efficiency, she said. Partial demolition would include rehabbing a majority of the building that fronts Los Angeles Street (south of Temple Street); that proposal would involve razing the Parker Center jail and replacing it with a new building. The city is currently reviewing public comments and the Final EIR is scheduled for completion by June. No budget or timeline for a replacement of Parker Center has been revealed. The property was mostly vacated in 2009 when the LAPD moved into the new $400 million Police Administration Building.
The Metropolitan Transportation Authority is continuing with pre-construction work on the $1.37 billion Regional Connector, which will connect a series of light rail lines, creating three new stations and streamlining travel throughout the region. The relocation of utilities, including underground gas and cable lines, has begun at several sites across Downtown. The utility work is part of the preparation for major construction, which will involve underground tunneling from Little Tokyo to the Financial District by way of Second Street, as well as a trench down Flower Street to Wilshire Boulevard. The project continues to face a legal challenge from Japanese Village Plaza, Thomas Properties Group and the Westin Bonaventure Hotel over concerns about its impact on business. The project is slated to finish in 2019. At metro.net/projects/connector.
SIXTH STREET VIADUCT REPLACEMENT
Demolition and construction of the 3,500-foot-long bridge connecting the Arts District and Boyle Heights is slated to begin in 2015. Built in 1932, the Sixth Street Viaduct has been weakened by an internal chemical condition called Alkali Silica Reaction. The city in 2012 chose the Downtown office of HNTB Inc. to serve as the lead designer on the $401 million replacement. Also on the team are L.A. architect Michael Maltzan, Hargreaves Associates and AC Martin. HNTB’s renderings feature a “Ribbon of Arches” that amplifies the sweep and style of the 81-year-old bridge’s original look. Some early details have been tweaked. Now, instead of the previous “X” configuration where the canted arches swoop into the base, the look is a “Y” configuration. The project will integrate bicycle and pedestrian access, open space and direct connections to the Los Angeles River. At sixthstreetviaductreplacement.org.
DELIJANI BROADWAY THEATERS
The revitalization of four historic Broadway theaters — the Los Angeles (615 S. Broadway), Palace (630 S. Broadway), State (703 S. Broadway) and Tower (802 S. Broadway) — owned by the Delijani family continues. Plans call for almost a dozen bars, lounges and restaurants throughout the buildings. All land-use approvals and permits for alcohol have been secured, according to project consultant Kate Bartolo. The renovations are currently focused on the Los Angeles and Palace theaters, Bartolo added, with work on the State further down the road (a church currently occupies the space).
The effort to build an NFL football stadium in South Park continues to be hampered by the lack of a team. The once-heated project stalled last March when Tim Leiweke, the president and CEO of developer Anschutz Entertainment Group and the prime driver of the stadium, left the company. Still, AEG has pledged to move forward, though the company has also said work would not begin on the $1.4 billion project until a deal with a team and the NFL is signed. The project would create a 68,000-seat football stadium where the Convention Center’s West Hall now stands. A replacement for the lost building, dubbed the Pico Hall and being designed by the firm Populous, would rise contiguous to the current Convention Center. Architecture firm Gensler is handling designs of the stadium that would feature a “deployable,” or removable roof. The project would include a $10 million expansion of the Blue Line’s Pico Station as part of AEG’s effort to have 25% of game attendees utilize public transit. Though what will happen with football is unknown, the City last year turned over operations of the Convention Center to AEG in a new public-private partnership. At farmersfield.com.
ITALIAN AMERICAN MUSEUM
The restoration of the exterior of the Italian American Museum of Los Angeles is set to begin shortly, and the long-awaited project is on schedule to open in the second half of 2014, and possibly as soon as summer, said executive director Marianna Gatto. The museum’s permanent exhibition, which will focus on the history of Italian Americans in Los Angeles and Southern California, is currently under construction. The Italian Hall, a $4.5 million effort at 125 Paseo de la Plaza near Olvera Street, will display rare photos, documents, maps and artifacts illustrating the legacy, contributions and influences of Italian Americans in the region, Gatto said. The exhibits will be interactive, Gatto she added. At italianhall.org.
REDBIRD AT VIBIANA
Redbird at Vibiana, the eagerly awaited restaurant from chef Neal Fraser, is slated to open in the rectory next to the former cathedral in June, according to Pinky Farnum, the office manager for the longtime home of the Los Angeles Archdiocese. Fraser and his wife, Amy Kroll, took over management of Vibiana last year, and they are partnering with Bill Chait (the businessman who helped open Bestia and Rivera, among others) on Redbird. The food will likely be a return to the unpretentious fine dining Fraser executed at the Beverly Boulevard restaurant Grace.
The renovation of the Regent Theatre at 448 S. Main St. is on track for completion this summer, according to Beth Holden, a principal at project architect New Theme. The Historic Core building will become a concert venue, and a pizzeria will also open in the space. The project is led by Mitchell Frank, who owns concert promotion company Spaceland Productions.
The next major component of philanthropist Eli Broad’s $140 million art museum is the installation of “The Veil,” the lattice-like exterior of the project being designed by the New York firm Diller Scofidio + Renfro. The museum is rising directly south of Walt Disney Concert Hall, on top of a three-level, 370-car garage. Once completed, the 120,000-square-foot attraction will house Broad’s 2,000-piece contemporary art collection. The structure will offer free admission and have 50,000 square feet of exhibition space, as well as an outdoor plaza and a restaurant. The project, on Grand Avenue across from the Colburn School and MOCA, will also hold a lecture hall that seats 200 people. Broad Art Foundation officials recently pushed back an opening from late this year to sometime in 2015. At broadartfoundation.org.
TRACTION AVENUE BREWPUB
Downtown nightlife proprietor Cedd Moses overcame opposition from some neighbors to secure city entitlements for a 17,320-square-foot brewpub at 826-828 Traction Ave. Eddie Navarrette, chief consultant for F.E. Design & Consulting, which is representing the 258-seat project, said David Poffenburger has been selected as the architect for the Arts District project. Construction could be underway by summer, he said. More than half of the business, which will occupy the site of the former Crazy Gideon’s electronics store, would be dedicated to manufacturing and kitchen and beer service, Navarrette said. Moses’ license would also allow 5,000 barrels of beer to be sold off-site annually. The facility would offer 27 skeeball lanes and two ping-pong tables.
353 S. BROADWAY
Developer and architect David Gray Architects is wrapping up pre-construction on a $7.5 million renovation of the building at 353 S. Broadway, and has completed the permitting process with the city. Construction should begin within the next month, according to partner Tom Steidl, and is slated to take around 18 months. The building’s historic facade was restored as part of the renovation, and the project will turn the structure into creative office space, with ground-floor retail or restaurant space. A ficus tree continues to stick out of the fifth floor of the building. The tree will be removed.
Evoq Properties, which runs the massive complex at 777 S. Alameda St. formerly owned by Meruelo Maddux, continues to work on filling the four buildings and turning the site into a thriving apparel-based hub. Evoq is negotiating leases that would fill up the third building, which it upgraded last year. The most recent addition to the tenant roster is online retailer GoJane; it followed the arrival of fashion brands Splendid and Ella Moss last summer. Evoq is looking for other tenants to fill the fourth building, which would also be upgraded, said company CEO Martin Caverly. The complex continues to be anchored by clothing manufacturer and retailer American Apparel, which occupies two of the four buildings.
Construction on a proposed 347-room hotel at 426 S. Hill St. is complete, but its opening continues to be delayed, likely because of an ongoing labor dispute. Last year, the hotel workers union Unite Here Local 11 campaigned against the project because of questions surrounding its Environmental Impact Report, though that was widely interpreted as a ploy for a hotel to be a union operation. New York-based Chetrit Group, which owns the building near Pershing Square, did not respond to a request for comment on the project.
CLEANTECH MANUFACTURING CENTER
Trammell Crow Company and Principal Real Estate Investors are in the process of grading a massive property at 2455 E. Washington Blvd. for the 446,000-square-foot Cleantech Manufacturing Center, said Trammell Crow Development Manager Philip Tsui. CBRE, the 20-acre project’s listing agent, is marketing the property to clean technology and other tenants seeking state-of-the-art industrial and manufacturing buildings. The project would consist of three large buildings.
The long-awaited restoration of the 1935 Clifton’s Cafeteria may be nearing the finish line, as developer Andrew Meieran said the project at 648 S. Broadway is on track for completion this summer. Meieran has given the historic four-story complex a new moniker, Clifton’s Cabinet of Curiosities, which refers to the several different eating and drinking establishments it will have, including a tiki bar and sit-down steakhouse-style restaurant on the fourth floor. The first two floors, meanwhile, will be a restored version of the classic Clifton’s Cafeteria, serving cafeteria dishes such as pot roast and mashed potatoes. According to the project’s website, there will also be a butcher, a soda fountain, a specialty grocery and a bakery. The redevelopment of Clifton’s has been a delay-plagued process for Meieran, who acquired the building in 2010. The budget has swelled to about $7.5 million, up from $5 million in early 2013. At cliftonscafeteria.com.
Developer Lincoln Property Company is still working on securing permits for a renovation of the 1917 Desmond Building at Eleventh and Hope streets, said Lincoln Vice President Rob Kane. The project would create luxury creative office and retail space, and also would expand the building with a new sixth floor. The developer, which has hired architect Skidmore, Owings and Merrill, is spending about $9 million on the South Park project.
EMBASSY HOTEL AND THEATRE
According to the most recent information available, the transformation of the vacant Embassy Hotel and Trinity Auditorium at 849 S. Grand Ave. into a 183-room hotel is still on hold. New York-based building owner Chetrit Group had been planning to upgrade the approximately 12,000-square-foot theater and turn the historic building into the Empire Hotel, featuring an approximately 2,000-square-foot ground-floor restaurant, a 7,600-square-foot outdoor garden, a lobby bar and a lounge.
L.A. HOTEL RENOVATION
A $28 million renovation of the hotel at 333 S. Figueroa St. will provide upgraded guest rooms, meeting space, new public areas and an all-new fitness center. The facility, for several years known as the L.A. Hotel (and the Los Angeles Marriott Downtown before that), is slated to soon become the Hyatt Regency Los Angeles. Officials had previously said the name change would occur last year. The hotel is also readying a new restaurant featuring farm-to-table cuisine with fresh, seasonal ingredients, according to the website. The facility has remained open during the renovation. Officials recently announced plans to use several floors of the office building adjacent to the hotel as space for a new boarding high school, the American University Preparatory School. At losangelesdowntown.hyatt.com.
LA KRETZ INNOVATION CAMPUS
Construction continues on the La Kretz Innovation Campus, a 30,000-square-foot clean technology project and business incubator in the Arts District, said Ian Harris, the vice president of partnerships for the Los Angeles Cleantech Incubator. The project at 525 S. Hewitt St. broke ground last summer. The DWP paid $11.1 million for the building on the block bounded by Hewitt, Colyton, Fifth and Palmetto streets. The project will have a workforce training component, and the LADWP’s Energy Efficiency Group is slated to house its testing and demonstration labs on site. At laincubator.com.
MARRIOTT HOTELS TOWER
Exterior work on the upper levels of the 23-story Marriott Tower has been completed and crews are working on the entrance of the $172 million project from Seattle-based American Life Inc. and Portland’s Williams/Dame & Associates. Project officials have said they hope to open the development, which is just north of L.A. Live, this summer. The 373,000-square-foot structure will hold a 174-room Courtyard by Marriott and a 218-room Residence Inn in a single high-rise. Both hotels will utilize the same lobby. The project, being designed by Portland’s GBD Architects, includes a rooftop pool and deck. At williamsanddame.com.
Rising Realty Partners continues with its renovation of the 1921 Pacific Mutual Building at 523 W. Sixth St. Creation of a new courtyard is proceeding, with concrete for the outdoor gathering space being poured this month. An outpost of Le Pain Quotidien restaurant will open in March, followed in May by the debut of Tender Greens. May will also bring the unveiling of the project’s 80-foot-high “green” wall on Olive Street, and in September a Tartine Bakery & Wine Shop will open. The father-son company run by Nelson and Christopher Rising purchased the Financial District landmark for $60 million in 2012 and has its headquarters there. The property is now 85% leased. Chinatown-based architecture firm Johnson Fain is overseeing the architectural and interior improvements on the complex that is comprised of three buildings anchored by a 12-story Beaux Arts edifice.
PICO AND FIGUEROA HOTEL
The city has rejected bids from potential developers for a South Park hotel and is starting the proposal process anew, said Chief Legislative Analyst Gerry Miller. Last fall, the city launched a public bidding competition, asking developers to offer plans for a 19,000-square-foot city-owned parcel at Pico Boulevard and Figueroa Street across from the Convention Center. The city hopes to sell the site to a developer that will erect a hotel. Though plans had called for a four-star or higher quality structure, Miller said that provision is no longer necessary, and that the main goal is to get a hotel open.
Portland-based developer Williams/Dame & Associates is considering plans and trying to determine the financial feasibility of building a 450-room Renaissance Hotel at the northeast corner of Olympic Boulevard and Georgia Street. Williams/Dame acquired the 60,000-square-foot parcel near L.A. Live from Anschutz Entertainment Group. Last spring, when the project was first announced, the hotel was pegged as a $200 million venture. However, according to a project spokesman, that figure may no longer hold, and all financial details are being re-examined. No groundbreaking or opening date has been set. Williams/Dame is also developing the nearby $172 million Marriott Tower project that will bring 392 Courtyard by Marriott and Residence Inn rooms to Downtown.
The ground-floor space of the 1914 building at 908 S. Broadway, known as the Sparkle Factory and owned by jewelry designer Tarina Tarantino and her husband and business partner Alfonso Campos, has been leased by New York specialty retailer Oak. The 2,200-square-foot shop is slated to open next month; Campos and Tarantino plan to bring a Sparkle Factory store to the second floor of the building. The couple are converting the long-vacant, century-old structure into their business headquarters, and they are also exploring having stores on multiple levels. There are seven floors in the 26,800-square-foot edifice that could be leased to different businesses.
Longtime Downtown developer Wayne Ratkovich continues to work on a $160 million plan to transform the aged Macy’s Plaza into a modern office, hotel and retail hub. Ratkovich acquired the Financial District property from Jamison Properties last year, and Downtown-based architecture firm Johnson Fain is handling the planning and design on the 41-year-old complex bounded by Seventh, Eighth, Hope and Flower streets. The project, which has been renamed The Bloc, holds a 700,000-square-foot office tower, a 485-room Sheraton hotel — which is receiving a $40 million renovation to bring it up to four-star status — and a 400,000-square-foot shopping area anchored by a 240,000-square-foot Macy’s. Plans call for creating an open-air complex on the street level, with the towering, unfriendly brick walls being replaced by windows and dining terraces. The development is slated to open by the end of 2015.
OPENED IN THE PAST FIVE MONTHS
845 S. FIGUEROA ST.
In January, approximately 280 State Bar employees moved into the upper floors of the rehabilitated 1969 building at 845 S. Figueroa St., said Laura Ernde, a State Bar spokeswoman. The State Bar of California purchased the property on the cusp of the Financial District and South Park in 2012. The ground floor holds a 24,000-square-foot Smart & Final Extra, which opened last July. The Commerce-based grocer signed a 20-year lease for the space in the building.
A Downtown outpost of the Portland-based Ace Hotel opened at 929 S. Broadway on Jan. 6. The project turned the former United Artists Theatre building, which debuted in 1927, into a 182-room boutique establishment. The revamped 12-story edifice features a coffee bar and a restaurant, L.A. Chapter, as well as an indoor/outdoor rooftop lounge with a small pool. The building was originally opened by Mary Pickford, Douglas Fairbanks, Charlie Chaplin and D.W. Griffith. Most recently, the 1,600-seat theater was the home of the church founded by the late Dr. Gene Scott. During its renovation, Ace restored the historic elements of the 1,600-seat theater while upgrading it for concerts and other events. It opened on Valentine’s Day with a show by the English band Spiritualized. At acehotel.com/losangeles.
The low-income housing complex Gateways Apartments celebrated its grand opening on Nov. 7. The $28 million development at Fifth and San Pedro streets, from the SRO Housing Corporation, features 107 apartments for formerly homeless individuals. The 350-square-foot studios are furnished with a bed, a kitchen, a bathroom and more. The design by DBB Architects has clean, modern lines, and large windows in the six-story building look out onto the neighborhood below. The building is certified LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) Gold. Amenities include offices for social services and a classroom with computer workstations. There is also a community room.
Move-ins at the $92 million, six-story Jia Apartments began in the last week of January, according to Jia’s leasing office. The project, at 639 N. Broadway at the southern border of Chinatown, is from developer Equity Residential and features 280 studio, one- and two-bedroom apartments, along with 18,000 square feet of retail (Equity is currently working on leases for the retail space). The design from Thomas A. Cox Architects also created a public plaza and widened sidewalks, with the aim of activating the streetscape. Rents begin at $1,650 for a 571-square-foot studio. Apartments feature nine-foot ceilings and the project has outdoor barbecue and picnic areas. At equityapartments.com.
Developer Affirmed Housing began move-ins in mid-January at the $24 million Lotus Garden. The 60-unit building at 715-721 Yale St. in Chinatown is for people and families making 30%-60% of the county median income. Units range from studios to three bedrooms, and Lotus Garden holds a computer lab and community room. There is also 4,000 square feet of outdoor space on the building’s roof deck. The project’s garage holds 63 vehicles, including a stacking, vertical-grid parking system dubbed Carmatrix. The $289,000, 17-stall machine saves space and allowed the developer to save costs on excavation and shoring. At affirmedhousing.org.
PWC FAMILY HOUSING
A City West residential project developed by the Pilipino Worker’s Center and the Little Tokyo Service Center Community Development Corporation celebrated its grand opening on Dec. 13. The 45-unit development at 153 N. Glendale Blvd., officially known as Larry Itliong Village, includes 22 residences for homeless individuals, along with 54 parking spaces and approximately 4,000 square feet of common space. The colorful complex was in the works for nine years.
Move-ins at Skid Row Housing Trust’s Star Apartments began just after Thanksgiving. The building’s 102 affordable housing units are now completely filled, according to SRHT Housing Development Director Dana Trujillo. The project at 240 E. Sixth St. stands out for the design by architect Michael Maltzan: The complex is fashioned from prefabricated residences that were lowered one-by-one onto a concrete superstructure that was poured over an existing one-story edifice; the units measure about 350 square feet and were made in Idaho, then trucked to Los Angeles. The $19.3 million development features 15,000 square feet of community space including a basketball court, running track and offices for social services.
More than three years after it was unceremoniously shuttered, the wine bar The Must reopened. The spot owned by Coly Den Haan and Rachel Thomas began serving on Dec. 19 in a 2,800-square-foot space on the ground floor of The Jeffries apartment building at 117 Winston St. in the Historic Core. The new Must is larger than the old location, and features a patio and a private tasting room in the basement. The original Must was shuttered in 2010 after a property dispute. At mustwinebar.ca.
A 10,000-square-foot Urban Outfitters opened on Dec. 19. The first Downtown location of the Philadelphia-based chain occupies the former Rialto Theatre at 812 S. Broadway. The historic integrity of the 1917 edifice was retained, with the most significant work being the leveling of the sloped theater floor; original brick walls were left, as were other architectural elements. The store contains a mezzanine, and track lights reminiscent of stage lamps hang from the 31-foot-high ceiling. Old films are projected on the back wall of the structure, where there was once a movie screen.
WAL-MART NEIGHBORHOOD MARKET
A 33,000-square-foot Wal-Mart Neighborhood Market debuted Sept. 14 on the ground floor of Grand Plaza, a 302-unit senior housing complex at 701 W. Cesar Chavez Ave. The store, which stocks a full line of grocery goods and contains a large pharmacy, filled a space that had been empty since the building opened in 1991. The supermarket is catty-corner from the Ramon C. Cortines School of Visual and Performing Arts and includes 140 parking spots, as well as loading docks that can handle delivery trucks. Its opening came after a long battle between city officials, who had tried to keep Wal-Mart out of the area, and labor activists and others who fear the store could have a harmful effect on independent businesses in nearby Chinatown.
© Los Angeles Downtown News 2014