Developer Plans 27-Story Tower in South Park

Carmel Partners’ proposed 27-story tower at 801 S. Olive St. would features open-air mezzanines, a rooftop pool and an illuminated parking podium. 

The Downtown development rush continues, and this time it’s going tall and dense: San Francisco-based Carmel Partners has revealed plans to build a 27-story tower at 801 S. Olive St.

The design from GMP Architects-LA calls for 363 residential units and 10,000 square feet of ground-floor retail. Plans were presented to the Downtown Los Angeles Neighborhood Council’s Planning and Land Use Committee on Tuesday, Jan. 21.


The proposed project would be the second major Carmel development in Downtown — the firm is in the midst of construction on a 700-unit apartment complex at Eighth Street and Grand Avenue. That project, which will include a 42,000-square-foot Whole Foods, is slated to open by early 2016.

No budget or timeline was revealed for the high-rise. However, renderings depict a sleek, glass-encased tower with massive square frames as façade articulations, several open-air decks and a four-story podium.

“We tried to design a building that will fit into the changing context of the neighborhood, especially with Carmel’s project next door,” said lead architect Don Getman.

The first floor of the building would be used primarily for a lobby, and early plans call for a 7,500-square-foot restaurant at Eighth and Olive streets. The proposal also envisions 379 parking stalls for resident use and 184 bicycle parking spaces.

Three floors of parking would sit on top of the ground level. The garage would be encased in translucent wall panels and would emit a soft glow at night.

“We wanted this to be a beautiful garage and not just another big podium,” Neils Cotter, vice president of development at Carmel Partners, told the DLANC committee.

The tower also would feature a fifth-floor deck at the rear of the project with a dog park, a fitness center and several lawns. A second sky deck would sport an enclosed rooftop lounge with a bar, a pool and more.

The project would hold studio to two-bedroom residences measuring 520-1,160 square feet. Four penthouses would average 1,950 square feet.

The project is in the entitlement phase, with Carmel seeking several variances, including increasing the building’s floor area by 50,000 square feet and reducing the open space requirement by 10%. Carmel also hopes to plant 43 trees on the site — based on the number of units, the city requires 93 trees.

Podium Problem

At the DLANC meeting, the project’s design sparked a discussion about several trends in high-rise architecture, including the issue of parking podiums. Simon Ha, an architect and the chair of the Planning and Land Use Committee, observed that parking podiums are often ugly and, because residents can’t easily see what is happening on the street, can pose a safety concern.

“It’s important to have eyes on the street from residents to make the street safer,” he said. “We have three stories of parking right off the ground floor that prevents that.”

Getman said that the podium improves the sightline for the lowest floor of residential units. But the bigger issue, he said, is cost: Digging a subterranean parking garage is a pricey and time-consuming process.

“If we had created a subterranean parking structure, there wouldn’t be a project,” Cotter added.

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