DOWNTOWN LOS ANGELES - When it comes to chronicling development, the billion-dollar babies get the most attention. That's understandable, but sometimes other projects mean more for an individual district, especially in the short term.
That's the case with a particular batch of Downtown Los Angeles efforts, even one that, when it's finished, will count as a bigwig. Right now, the Financial District will be impacted by what happens with the razing of the Wilshire Grand, and Chinatown will be propelled by the under-construction Lotus Garden. That's just the start.
Demolition Grand: Before Wilshire Grand hotel owner Korean Air and its development partner Thomas Properties Group break ground on a $1.1 billion, two-tower project, they first must get rid of the 896-room, 1952 hotel on the site. The demolition work on the northwest corner of Seventh and Figueroa streets is slated to begin in June and continue through February 2013. This year might also be when Downtown learns if they'll dynamite the structure, or make plans to take it down another way. The first portion of the replacement project, a 45-story hotel and condominium skyscraper, is slated to open in late 2015.
Finding Funds: Little Tokyo stakeholders have waited for a recreation center literally for decades, and now, it's possible - though not easy. Last year the city approved the Budokan of Los Angeles, a facility that would bring basketball courts and martial arts tournaments to a city-owned plot at 237-249 S. Los Angeles St. In 2012, the Little Tokyo Service Center needs to raise money for the $22 million development. So far about $2 million has been secured, and the organization will seek contributions from public sources, foundations, corporations and individuals, said Bill Watanabe, the LTSC's executive director. It's a big challenge, but if all goes well, a groundbreaking could come by the end of 2013.
Sunrise on 1111 Sunset: In September, Arts District developer Linear City made a foray into another Downtown outskirt when it bought the old Metropolitan Water District headquarters at 1111 Sunset Blvd. The 1973, William Pereira-designed tower is set to be transformed into 92 apartments. Linear City is still looking for money. If traditional financing can't be attained soon, company partner Yuval Bar-Zemer said Linear City will finance the project in-house. Either way, Bar-Zemer said they intend to break ground in April. Plans on the property just west of Chinatown call for units that will measure 800-1,000 square feet, and most will include balconies.
The 411 on 845: Parking lot giant L&R Group is in the midst of a $5 million renovation of a 1969 office building at 845 S. Figueroa St. The company is finalizing structural designs for a facelift that will replace the dark façade with floor-to-ceiling windows. They hope to finish designs, secure permits and begin construction early this year. Work on the interior, meanwhile, is underway, and space in the mostly gutted 125,000-square-foot structure will be built out according to tenant specifications.
How Suites It Is: Last summer, property owner Broadway Chinatown entered into preliminary talks with a division of Orange County's Tarsadia Hotel Group to develop a mid-rise Hampton Inn and Homewood Suites at 1500 S. Figueroa St., across from the Convention Center. Early plans called for a building of up to eight floors. While the future of the project is uncertain, 2012 could bring another hotel to South Park, a community quickly becoming a hotel hub.
Gardens Rising: This summer, families should be moving into Lotus Garden, a $24 million low-income housing complex at 715 Yale St. The 60-unit project broke ground in April and completion is anticipated in August. Rents will range from $370 for a studio to $1,236 for a three-bedroom apartment, and the community will see hundreds of new residents. The project includes a 64-space parking garage known as a car matrix, in which autos will be moved vertically and horizontally to allow for a space-saving stacking effect.
©Los Angeles Downtown News.