Development Watch

George Lucas is considering building his Lucas Museum of Narrative Art in Exposition Park, near the Coliseum. A site in San Francisco is also being considered.

DTLA - The local real estate development scene is speeding along, with more than 100 projects either under construction or in the planning stage. In Development Watch, Los Angeles Downtown News runs down the latest proposals, from projects with a few units to mega-deals with a billion-dollar budget. 

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A Jewel of a Project: Although the Historic Core and South Park have seen the vast majority of Downtown adaptive reuse projects, where old buildings are renovated and often become housing, the Jewelry District has largely been overlooked. Now, plans are afoot for a transformation of the Foreman and Clark Building. Vancouver-based developer Bonnis Properties is looking to upgrade the currently vacant structure at 701 S. Hill St. Plans call for turning the 1928 Art Deco edifice into 124 one- and two-bedroom units ranging from 470-1,075 square feet. According to Kate Bartolo, a land-use consultant working with Bonnis, there would also be 8,527 square feet of retail space on the ground floor and 727 square feet on the mezzanine. The site has been the subject of numerous reported developments in the past, including a hotel, though all faltered. Los Angeles-based OKB Architecture is handling current designs; plans call for keeping the stone lobby and adding a gym, lounges and a media room. No on-site parking is planned. The timeline and budget have not been revealed.

The Continuum of Development: Developer Continuum Partners is expanding into the eastern part Downtown Los Angeles, with plans for a five-story creative office complex near the Los Angeles River. The Denver-based developer recently filed plans with the city for the project at 640 S. Santa Fe Ave., just south of the Sixth Street Viaduct. The site currently holds a cold storage facility and warehouse that would be razed. The new structure would have 105,000 square feet of office space along with ground-floor retail and a restaurant. The lot is surrounded by industrial buildings, though it is a short walk from the restaurants and stores along Mateo and Seventh streets. The budget and timeline have not been revealed. The news was first reported on the website

Park-side Project: Developer S&R Partners is teaming up with Lincoln Properties to develop eight acres next to Los Angeles State Historic Park, where a $20 million renovation is scheduled to be complete in January. According to plans filed with the city, the project would create seven buildings ranging from five to 14 stories along a narrow strip of land between Broadway and the park, starting just above the Capitol Milling Building at 1231 N. Spring St. The site would hold a whopping 920 apartments, along with 21,406 square feet of commercial space and three levels of above-grade parking. S&R Partners, run by the Riboli family that owns the San Antonio Winery, tried to develop housing near the park more than a decade ago, with plans to create 300 residential units in a project that would also revitalize the Capitol Milling Building. The firms Newman Garrison + Partners and Rios Clementi Hale Studios are working on designs for the current proposal. No budget or timeline have been revealed. 

Chinatown Rising: Chinatown-based architecture firm Johnson Fain has been behind numerous Downtown projects, including the recently opened Blossom Plaza apartment complex at 900 N. Broadway. Next up on the firm’s roster is… its own headquarters. Johnson Fain last month filed plans with the city to build a seven-story residential project that would replace its home, a converted 1920s Chrysler dealership at 1201 N. Broadway. The new structure would hold 124 units, along with 8,691 square feet of commercial space. Johnson Fain partner Scott Johnson said that the residential activity happening in Chinatown makes this the right time to plan for the future. A budget for the project near the coming renovated Los Angeles State Historic Park has not been revealed, though Johnson said he expects construction to begin in 2018 or later. It has not been determined where the firm would relocate during construction, or whether the office would return to the site after the project is completed.

May the Force Be With Exposition Park: Mayor Eric Garcetti has long talked of his hope that George Lucas will build his Lucas Museum of Narrative Art in Exposition Park. Recently, designs for the project were revealed, though there’s a caveat: Designs were also revealed for the rival location in San Francisco’s Treasure Island. The museum would hold items from Lucas’ personal collection, including paintings, photographs, digital artwork and, yes, Star Wars gear. In addition to gallery space, the roughly 312,000-square-foot complex would house offices, classrooms, a library, a theater, lecture halls and a restaurant. Renderings from Beijing’s MAD architecture firm show a sleek, curving structure with green space both around the five-story museum and on top of parts of it. Lucas had planned to build the museum in Chicago, but that fell apart due to neighbor opposition. He has not announced when he will choose a home for the privately financed project.

© Los Angeles Downtown News 2016