A large housing project in the Arts District has undergone a major redesign following a community outcry that the development would not fit with the aesthetics of the neighborhood.
Bolour Associates and Crescenta Capital Partners purchased the land at 695. S. Santa Fe Ave. in 2013. In February of this year,they presented designs for the AMP Lofts to the community. The uproar was instantaneous, and in response, the developers spent three months having architects from the Shimoda Design Group rework the project, said Dana Sayles, an AMP Lofts representative. The $130 million development would include 320 live/work apartments and 20,000 square feet of retail space.
“We took a step back and said, ‘These comments are valid,’ and addressed the issues,” Sayles said at a recent meeting organized by members of the Historic Cultural Neighborhood Council.
Sayles noted that a lack of open public space and “imposing” elevator towers were two points of contention.
The new design utilizes a “J” shape and is flanked by a seven-story building at the northern end of the property and another one fronting Seventh Street. The rest of the 311,000-square-foot project is primarily two- and three-story structures along Imperial Street and Santa Fe Avenue.
Each of the retail spaces would have large windowsand a front porch-type area. A plaza is slated for the corner of Seventh and Imperial streets and a 5,000-square-foot artisan workshop would be on Imperial Street. AMP Lofts would offer 390 parking spaces.
The project would also hold a community garden and parklet, a public paseo and a dog run. There would be a total of 60,000 square feet of open space, about three times the amount offered in the previous proposal.
Sayles described the project’s overall concept as a “live-work community.” Residences would range from 525 to more than 1,200 square feet and would employ an open-plan concept, though one in which identifiable separated spaces could be used as bedrooms or work areas.
Project manager Ryan Granito anticipates breaking ground between the end of 2015 and the middle of 2016. He predicts 20 months of construction with the project coming online by mid 2018.
Bolour and Crescenta Capital bought the property from Scot Spiwak and David Seewack, who had planned to convert their American Moving Parts auto factory into lofts. Initial plans approved in 2009 called for 180 units. The project never got off the ground.
The two-acre site currently holds 11 warehouse and industrial buildings, which are mostly used for filming. Project designer
Joey Shimoda said the goal is to retain some of the signage and to repurpose as much brick as possible, but because the developers intend to create subterranean parking, it would be difficult to leave any of the buildings intact.