DOWNTOWN LOS ANGELES - One’s take on the activity level in Downtown Los Angeles depends on perspective. If you compare the current development scene to 2006, the height of both the real estate boom and what came to be called the era of irrational exuberance, then things are barely moving. If, on the other hand, you weigh the Downtown of 2013 versus the Downtown of 2000, then the community is virtually exploding.
The truth, of course, lies somewhere in the middle. It is foolish to believe that Downtown will ever again see the sheer number of cranes that dotted the skyline seven years ago. That said, things have unequivocally rebounded from the lows of the recession, and once again there are thousands of construction jobs in the Central City.
There’s big money flowing here too. The Wilshire Grand hotel replacement is a $1 billion project, and the Regional Connector runs nearly $1.4 billion. The replacement for the Sixth Street Viaduct will cost $400 million, and the new Federal Courthouse in the Civic Center is expected to have a similar price. Then there’s the big question mark of Farmers Field.
The point is, the Downtown development scene in the first quarter of 2013 is extremely busy, and almost everywhere one looks, work is proceeding on housing, civic, cultural and other projects. The face of the community is still in the midst of a major change.
In the following pages, Los Angeles Downtown News provides the latest information on 85 Downtown projects. There’s plenty of action.
These projects were either publicly announced, were revived or gained prominence in the past five months.
12TH AND GRAND: Developer Sonny Astani last year partnered with parking lot giant L&R Group to buy a three-acre South Park parcel for $29 million. Astani, who developed and then lost the Concerto tower (which opened recently as the Apex), said he hopes to break ground on a $250 million apartment complex on the site at 12th Street and Grand Avenue late this year. The proposed 640-unit complex would be bounded by 12th and Olive streets, Pico Boulevard and Grand Avenue. The partnership is planning a two-phase development, with the initial segment consisting of a 300-unit, seven-story structure. The complex will eventually have 42,000 square feet of retail space. The property currently operates as a parking lot.
351 S. BROADWAY: Architect and building owner David Gray is undertaking a $7.5 million renovation of the property at 351 S. Broadway. Plans call for turning the structure into an office building for creative use tenants. Completion is scheduled for the first quarter of 2014 for the project that also calls for the addition of a sixth floor and the creation of a ground-floor bar. On Jan. 9, crews unveiled the original façade, which had been covered for about 60 years. A mural that had covered the façade since the early 1990s called “Calle de la Eternidad” was removed but will be reproduced on the building’s south facing wall. The structure also has a 12-foot ficus tree growing out of the wall near the top of the building. Gray said it will be removed.
AVA LITTLE TOKYO: Work continues on a two-phase development from Avalon Bay Communities in Little Tokyo. Phase one of the project at the southeast corner of Second and Los Angeles streets will be a six-story building with 104 apartments. It will include 13,500 square feet of retail space and is scheduled to open in late 2014. The second phase, a 176-unit structure, is scheduled to break ground in June.
CITY MARKET: Peter Fleming, the president and CEO of City Market of Los Angeles, is in the early stage of planning a transformation of 10 acres of mostly unused Fashion District produce warehouses into a $1 billion hub of housing, office space, hotel rooms and a college campus. The proposal to reinvent the 1909 produce mart known as City Market would require an environmental impact report and, at the earliest, an initial phase of the project could break ground in mid-2014, said Fleming. The project site comprises the blocks bounded by Ninth, San Pedro, San Julian and 12th streets. The plan calls for a campus anchored by a college-level institution that focuses on fashion, architecture, design, culinary arts or another creative industry, Fleming said. It would also include 945 housing units, 210 hotel rooms, 225,000 square feet of retail and 295,000 square feet of creative office space. The first phase would likely create 150 housing units. Fleming said it could take 20 years to complete the entire project.
DODGER STADIUM UPGRADES: In the wake of their $2 billion acquisition of the Los Angeles Dodgers last May, Guggenheim Baseball Management launched an estimated $100 million worth of stadium upgrades in the off-season. The improvements include the renovation and expansion of the restrooms on the upper levels of the stadium, with a 62% increase in the number of facilities for women. Improvements are also coming to the concession stands in the effort to speed up food service. Concourses are being widened, state-of-the-art scoreboards are being erected and Wi-Fi and cell phone service are being boosted. Team officials have said they hope to have all the renovations ready for the opening of the season in April, though they acknowledged that fine-tuning some elements may last into the first or second homestand.
FIRST AND BROADWAY GRAFFITI PIT: The city and county are both in preliminary talks with the state Department of General Services about buying a derelict state-owned property in the Civic Center. The fenced-off lot on the northeast corner of First Street and Broadway contains the remnants of an office building razed after an earthquake 41 years ago. The state is now looking to sell the plot. Officials with the city and county have separately expressed interest in buying the parcel known by some as “the graffiti pit” and turning it into a park. The site is adjacent to Grand Park, which opened last summer. State officials still need to finish a $600,000 cleanup of the land before it can be sold, said General Services spokesman Michael Liang. There is no timeline for a potential sale.
LAPD PARK REPLANTING: The city Bureau of Engineering is overseeing a major replanting of the park and lawn areas that surround the $440 million Police Administration Building. The work will address a slate of landscape maintenance mishaps that allowed weeds to proliferate and caused many plants and trees to die. The renovation plan includes a complete weed removal; improvements to the irrigation system; replacing dead plants and trees; and the replacement of certain plant species that require regular maintenance with hardier varieties, said Tonya Durrell, a spokeswoman for the Department of Public Works. The work is slated to last up to four months.
METRO BUS FACILITY: Metro in October broke ground on Division 13, a bus maintenance facility on the northeast and southeast corners of Vignes Street and Cesar Chavez Avenue, near Union Station. The $72 million development, which includes a $52.5 million grant from the U.S. Department of Transportation, will contain a multi-level garage, a maintenance building, a fueling depot and areas for washing buses; the latter will incorporate a storm water reclamation system. The project, designed to hold 200 buses, is intended to meet Leadership in Energy & Environmental Design (LEED) Gold standards. Low-maintenance vegetation will be incorporated as part of a green roof. An opening is anticipated for late 2014.
NEW PERSHING APARTMENTS: Skid Row Housing Trust is in the process of securing financing for a renovation of the Pershing Hotel at Fifth and Main streets. The 69-unit residential hotel would be dismantled in a way that keeps the historic facades intact. The project would still contain 69 units, though they would be about 400 square feet and include kitchens and bathrooms; the current rooms average approximately 150 square feet. The proposed renovation, which would take 18 months, is in line with the nonprofit developer’s shift in recent years toward providing larger units for its low-income and formerly homeless tenants. The project would also create up to 30 parking spaces. The budget has not yet been determined. Architect Wade Killefer is handling designs, said Mike Alvidrez, SRHT executive director.
OLYMPIC AND HILL APARTMENTS: The Hanover Company is in the planning stage for a 284-unit apartment complex that would rise on a current parking lot at Olympic Boulevard and Hill Street. Hanover plans to build seven stories of housing with 12,400 square feet of street-level retail, said Frank Pasker, the project manager for Thomas P. Cox Architects, which is handling the designs. The ground floor will also hold three live/work units. The developer plans to break ground around May 1 and construction would take approximately one year. Hanover, which developed the luxury apartment tower 717 Olympic, bought the Hill Street site from Evoq Properties. Hanover started designs and permitting last year while the purchase was in escrow. The deal closed in January.
PICO AND FIGUEROA HOUSING COMPLEX: The city launched a public bidding competition in November, asking developers to offer plans for a 19,000-square-foot city-owned parcel on the northeast corner of Figueroa and 12th streets, across from the Convention Center. The city is looking to sell the site to a developer that will erect a four-star or boutique hotel. The property is a parking lot that sits immediately south of the building where a Hooters restaurant is located. Bids were due Feb. 15. The winning bidder would have to move the proposal through the city entitlement process. The city has not revealed an asking price for the land, but the adjacent 2.7-acre parcel at 1220 S. Figueroa St. sold for $31 million.
RELATED PARCEL M TOWER: Grand Avenue project developer Related broke ground in January on a $120 million apartment tower. The 19-story edifice is rising on Grand Avenue, just south of the under-construction Broad art museum. It will consist mostly of luxury units, but 20% of the 271 apartments will be set aside as affordable housing. The tower represents a scaled-down version of what Related received entitlements for in 2007, when it envisioned two buildings of up to 35 stories. Designed by Miami-based Arquitectonica, the building will include space on the ground level for two restaurants. It is slated for a late 2014 completion.
SARES-REGIS LITTLE TOKYO: The effort to build a 240-unit apartment complex at Second and San Pedro streets in Little Tokyo is in the city’s plan check process, said Mike Winter, senior vice president of development for Sares-Regis Group. A groundbreaking is scheduled for April with completion expected in two years, he said. The company acquired the property at 232 E. Second St., which is currently a parking lot, last year. The site is adjacent to Avalon Bay Communities’ Ava development.
THE CHELSEA: Construction is set to begin this month on a $5 million project that will transform a long-vacant Historic Core structure into a 28-unit apartment building called The Chelsea, said developer Nick Hadim. Completion on the property nicknamed the Ghost Building is expected by the end of this year with move-ins in early 2014. The seven-story former hotel at 216 W. Fifth St. was built as an annex to the Alexandria Hotel in 1910. A dispute between property owners led to the annex being walled off in 1934. Since it was an annex, the building has no stairs or elevators. Those will be added as part of the project, said Hadim.
1027 WILSHIRE: Work continues on a plan to create a 376-unit housing complex in City West, said Hamid Behdad of the Central City Development Group. The company, which is partnering on the project at 1027 Wilshire Blvd. with the Amidi Real Estate Group, views the low-rise rental development as the second phase of 1010 Wilshire, a corporate housing complex across the street that Amidi created. Behdad said the focus continues to be on securing financing for the proposed structure. The project would also contain 6,500 square feet of retail and 5,000 square feet of office space. The timeline will depend on the financing, said Behdad.
1111 SUNSET: Developer Linear City is converting the former Metropolitan Water District headquarters at 1111 Sunset Blvd. into 92 apartments. The façade has been removed, and construction is expected to be completed with move-ins starting by the end of the year, said company partner Yuval Bar-Zemer. Linear City, which created the Arts District’s Biscuit Company and Toy Factory lofts, paid $6.8 million last year for the seven-story structure not far from Dodger Stadium. The project cost is estimated at $15 million. Plans call for taking the horizontal platforms, which jut out a few feet from the façade at every level, and turning them into balconies. Residences will measure 800-1,000 square feet. The 1973 building was originally designed by William Pereira. At linear-city.com.
1111 WILSHIRE: Vancouver, Wash.-based Holland Partner Group is in the final stage of construction and an opening is expected next month for a 210-unit City West apartment complex, according to a project representative. The $60 million development at 1111 Wilshire Blvd. is a seven-story building with 7,750 square feet of retail space. The project with studio to three-bedroom apartments will contain an underground parking garage with room for 302 cars. It is near Glo, Holland Partner Group’s first residential complex in the area.
1130 HOPE ST.: According to the most recent information available, the development firm BIMHF, LLC is in the preliminary design and planning stage for a hotel in South Park. The project, at 1130 S. Hope St., would rise on a site that currently holds a derelict three-story structure. The group has previously stated that $25 million in financing is lined up, but neither budget nor design details have been released.
AVANT: The first phase of Century West Partners’ $154 million Avant in South Park is on schedule for completion in the fourth quarter of this year, according to company officials. The initial phase will contain 247 apartments in a pair of seven-story buildings rising on two former parking lots at 1360 S. Figueroa St. and 1355 S. Flower St. The structures will be connected by a walkway. The second phase, a third building at 1420 S. Figueroa St. containing 193 units, is on track for a spring groundbreaking. The plans call for studio, one- and two-bedroom apartments as well as live-work units over 11,000 square feet of retail space.
BALTIMORE AND KING EDWARD HOTELS: According to the most recent information available, developer Izek Shomof is in the process of renovating a cluster of residential hotels at Fifth and Los Angeles streets. Plans call for a range of cosmetic upgrades including replacing carpet with tile, repairing broken windows and doing some painting in the 265-unit Baltimore and the 150-room King Edward hotels. At the Baltimore, there are plans for a recreation room. The work is expected to be carried out over the next two years as occupied units in the residential hotels become vacant. Bar proprietors Will Shamlian and Michael Leko have bought the King Eddy Saloon, a watering hole on the ground floor of the King Edward Hotel. It closed last year and they are renovating it. Ricki Kline, the designer for nightlife company 213 Inc., is handling the bar designs.
DA VINCI: Construction began in September on developer G.H. Palmer Associates’ 630-apartment complex in City West, said Geoff Palmer. Work is underway on the corner of Fremont and Temple streets for the 578,172-square-foot complex rising on a 193,000-square-foot lot that Palmer purchased in 2004. Plans call for five floors of housing above three levels of parking, along with 8,200 square feet of street-front retail. The style will be similar to Palmer’s other Italian-inspired apartment complexes in Downtown. According to Palmer’s website, the project will open in summer 2014. At ghpalmer.com.
EIGHTH AND GRAND APARTMENTS: San Francisco-based Carmel Partners broke ground in January on a 700-unit apartment complex at Eighth Street and Grand Avenue. Carmel bought the three-acre site from developer Sonny Astani last year for $63 million. Unlike Astani, who planned to erect a project called Angelena in phases, Carmel is building the complex in a single phase, with completion slated for fall 2015, said Dan Garibaldi, the firm’s vice president of development. Carmel is not utilizing Astani’s design, which called for an undulating façade. Instead, Carmel’s plan features floor-to-ceiling glass and balconies for most units. The building will have 36,000 square feet of ground-floor retail.
EIGHTH AND HOPE APARTMENTS: Work is underway on a 22-story apartment tower in South Park. Completion is expected in late 2014 with leasing starting shortly thereafter, said Vanessa Showalter, a spokeswoman for Atlanta-based Wood Partners, the project developer. The 290-unit building at 801 S. Hope St. would include one- and two-bedroom residences with floor-to-ceiling glass walls, balconies, a pool deck, a six-floor parking garage (including two underground levels) and 5,000 square feet of retail space. The project has been in the works since 2008 when Wood Partners purchased the site. The company then put the project on hold due to the economic downturn.
GATEWAYS APARTMENTS: SRO Housing Corp. remains on pace to finish construction of a 108-unit affordable housing project in August. The development is rising on a formerly vacant 22,000-square-foot lot at Fifth and San Pedro streets. All apartments will be efficiency units with an average size of 300 square feet. The project will aim for LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) Silver certification. At srohousing.org.
HELLMAN/BANCO POPULAR BUILDING: Developer Allen Gross is in the plan check stage for a conversion of the Herman H. Hellman building (also known as the Banco Popular Building) at Fourth and Spring streets. Gross is awaiting city approvals to proceed with the project that would create 212 apartments. He intends to set aside about 20% of the units for affordable housing. A zoning administrator approved a request to create residential units smaller than 750 square feet. The proposal from Neighborhood Effort, the development firm run by Gross and his wife Arax Harutunian, calls for units averaging 610 square feet, with an overall range of 481-1,576 square feet. Once construction begins it would take about 18 months, Gross said.
JADE ENTERPRISES PROJECT: Jade Enterprises, a major commercial property owner with significant holdings in the Fashion District, has submitted plans to build its first Downtown residential project. The company is looking to erect a 419-unit, two-building complex at Pico Boulevard and Flower Street on two side-by-side parking lots, according to plans filed with the city. The project would rise over 42,000 square feet of commercial space. Jade Enterprises’ plan still requires city entitlements. Getting those approvals could take a year or longer.
JIA APARTMENTS: Work is proceeding on the 300,000-square-foot Jia Apartments, formerly known as Chinatown Gateway, at Broadway and Cesar Chavez Avenue, said Allison Geiman, a development associate with developer Equity Residential. The $92.9 million project at the southern entrance to Chinatown will open in phases, with a first round of units available for move-ins by late summer. The entire project is slated to be open by December, said Geiman. Work began last year on the six-story building that will house 280 studio, one- and two-bedroom apartments, along with 18,000 square feet of retail at 639-643 Cesar Chavez Ave. The project is being designed by Thomas P. Cox Architects and will include a plaza, 17-foot wide sidewalks and a 588-car subterranean garage. The developer has not yet inked any leases for the ground level commercial spaces.
LORENZO: Phase one of G.H. Palmer Associates’ $300 million, 950-unit Flower Street apartment complex is on track for a March opening, said company head Geoff Palmer. The first phase of the project rising on a 9.4-acre lot at Flower Street and Adams Boulevard will include 495 units and incorporate the Italian Renaissance-inspired design in Palmer’s numerous other Downtown projects. The massive development will include four swimming pools, two indoor basketball courts and a sand volleyball court. Rents for the one- to three-bedroom units pitched to USC students will start at $826 a bed. At lorenzousc.com.
LOTUS GARDEN: An August completion is expected for the $24 million Lotus Garden, said Katelyn Silverwood, a spokeswoman for developer Affirmed Housing Group. Shoring issues related to the tricky hillside location at 715 Yale St. have caused delays for the project originally scheduled to open in spring 2012. Those issues have been resolved and framing was recently completed, Silverwood said. The developer is also nearly finished with a 63-car garage in which vehicles will be moved vertically and horizontally to allow for a space-saving stacking effect. The 60-apartment project will bring an eight-story complex for families earning 30%-60% of the county’s median household income. Rents are expected to range from $370 for studios to $1,236 for a three-bedroom apartment.
ONNI GROUP TOWER: A groundbreaking was held on Feb. 14 for a 32-story apartment tower from Vancouver-based Onni Group. The approximately $100 million structure will create 283 one- to three-bedroom luxury apartments. The high-rise at 888 S. Olive St. is the first of three towers that Onni plans to build in Downtown; another will be next to this new building. Renderings show a heavy use of glass and balconies on most units. The structure, which does not yet have a name, is slated to open in early 2015.
PWC FAMILY HOUSING: Construction is about 25% complete on a City West project from the Little Tokyo Service Center Community Development Corporation and the Pilipino Worker’s Center. The 45-apartment project at 153 N. Glendale Blvd., which broke ground in May, will include 22 residences for homeless individuals; nine of the apartments are for what are termed transition-age youth. Birba Group Architects is handling designs for the development known as PWC Family Housing. The project will include 54 parking spaces and approximately 4,000 square feet of common space. It is expected to be complete in September, according to a spokesman for the LTSC.
ROSSLYN HOTEL APARTMENTS: SRO Housing Corp. expects to break ground by April on a renovation of the 264-unit affordable housing complex at Fifth and Main streets. The nonprofit is in the process of relocating residents who would be affected by the renovations (all tenants will have the opportunity to stay in the building), said Anita Nelson, CEO of SRO Housing. The company, which bought the property in 2010 with help from the Community Redevelopment Agency, is required to preserve the affordable residences in the edifice. The project will take place in three phases, with different segments of the building being upgraded at different times. The work includes the addition of a restroom and kitchenette to all apartments and a restoration of the lobby, during which a now covered skylight will be revealed. Work is expected to last about 18 months. The project cost, including acquisition of the building, is $33 million. At srohousing.org.
SB OMEGA: Developer Barry Shy is still in the planning stage for a 40-story tower that would rise at 601 S. Main St. The 350-unit development would include 35 residential floors over a five-level, 1,200-space parking facility. Shy said he is looking to break ground this year, but the timeline is uncertain. He is currently preparing a geological report required by the city. The building would be Shy’s sixth Historic Core apartment project, but his first ground-up development.
SINGER SEWING MACHINE BUILDING: Steve Needleman, who runs the Downtown property firm Anjac Fashion, is overseeing a conversion of an eight-story commercial building into apartments. The Singer Sewing Machine Building at 806 S. Broadway will be transformed into a unique loft structure with eight large units, one on each floor. Having one residence per level means the apartments will measure 5,000-6,000 square feet. The cost of the project is not yet certain. The building, which rises between the Tower and Rialto theaters just south of Eighth Street, had long been home to garment manufacturers. The tenants have all been relocated to other Anjac Fashion-owned buildings, Needleman said. The ground level will be converted to a parking facility for tenants. The project is slated for completion by late 2014.
SPRING STREET GARAGE AND APARTMENTS: Downtown Management remains in the design phase for a proposed apartment building that would sit above a new garage on what is now a parking lot. The site is between the Spring Arcade Building and the Alexandria Hotel on Spring south of Fifth Street. Current plans call for a five-level garage with more than 400 parking spaces, with eight levels of housing above it, providing 120 units, said company vice president Greg Martin. The street level space would be reserved for commercial or retail use, and there would be two additional parking levels below ground. Martin said the firm hopes to break ground this summer.
STAR APARTMENTS: Skid Row Housing Trust’s Star Apartments is 70% complete. The Michael Maltzan-designed permanent supportive housing complex, which is comprised of 102 prefabricated housing units stacked above an existing commercial structure at Sixth and Maple streets, will include a recreation area with a running track and basketball court. The County Department of Health Services will operate a clinic in a street-level space. Another commercial space will be filled by Piece by Piece, an organization acquired by SRHT that teaches individuals to make mosaic art from salvaged materials, said SRHT Executive Director Mike Alvidrez. The developer expects to get its certificate of occupancy by July 1. The Star is the first permanent supportive housing project to use prefabricated construction in the country, according to SRHT. At skidrow.org.
TITLE INSURANCE BUILDING: Bel-Air based Capital Foresight bought the Title Insurance Building at 433 S. Spring St. last year with plans to convert the structure into condominiums. The company, however, has yet to finalize its plan. The entitlement process is expected to begin within six months, according to a spokesman for the company. Historic Core developer Izek Shomof, who partnered with Capital Foresight on the acquisition, is no longer involved in the partnership. Before the partnership dissolved, Shomof had said the team planned to convert the 1913 Art Deco structure, which has long been used primarily for filming, into 250 condominiums. The deal is tied in to the adjacent structure at 419 S. Spring St., where an entity called PNK I Group plans to create a hotel. The status of the hotel deal is uncertain as PNK did not respond to calls for comment.
BLOSSOM PLAZA: A representative of developer Forest City said that the company is targeting a mid-2013 groundbreaking for the long awaited Blossom Plaza. Completion of the project at 900 N. Broadway in Chinatown is anticipated in 2015, the representative said. Plans for the $90 million effort call for about 240 market rate and affordable rental units, 20,000 square feet of retail and restaurant space and a 175-space parking garage, along with a public plaza that would connect Broadway to the Gold Line Station. The project has been in the works in one form or another for nearly a decade. More than a year ago the city entered into a negotiation agreement with Forest City to replace the original developer on the project. Initial plans called for a $165 million complex with 262 housing units in two towers. Forest City officials expect to begin the permitting process this month.
METROPOLIS: IDS Real Estate Group continues to court hotel operators to anchor a long delayed mixed-use development on a 6.5-acre site bounded by Eighth, Ninth and Francisco streets and the Harbor (110) Freeway. IDS has envisioned a multi-phase project with up to two hotels and ground-floor retail. The developer recently modified its entitlements so that it now has approvals to build five towers, instead of the previous four. The development, which still lacks a timeline and budget, aims to transform Francisco Street into an active pedestrian corridor feeding into L.A. Live.
ONE SANTA FE: A late 2014 completion is expected for the $160 million One Santa Fe, according to officials with Canyon-Johnson Urban Fund Investments, one of the partners in the Arts District development. The project will bring a six-story building with 78,000 square feet of retail and commercial space to a plot just east of the Southern California Institute of Architecture; the project is rising on a four-acre portion of a 32-acre property used by Metro for the maintenance and storage of rail cars. One Santa Fe will include 438 apartments, a 15,000-square-foot space slated for a grocery store, a 47,400-square-foot plaza facing Santa Fe Avenue and 802 underground parking spaces. Twenty percent of the units will be reserved for low-income tenants. The development team also includes The McGregor Company, Polis Builders, Cowley Real Estate Partners and Goldman Sachs Urban Investment Group. Canyon Johnson joined the project as an equity partner in late 2011 and kick-started the construction.
THE GRAND: Grand Avenue project developer Related has officially thrown out its original vision for a $2 billion mixed-use complex with hotels, condominiums and retail designed by Frank Gehry on a parcel across from Walt Disney Concert Hall. Now, Related is planning a scaled-back project that will be undertaken in phases, starting with a residential tower on a portion of the site, likely near the corner of Grand Avenue and Second Street. The Grand Avenue Authority, the joint powers panel comprised of city and county officials that oversees the project, voted in January to give Related three months to submit a detailed plan for the tower. After the residential building, future structures and uses would be determined depending on demand in commercial markets. The new tower will likely be similar to the building that broke ground south of the Broad museum in December, said Bill Witte, president of Related California. He also said it could include both rental and for-sale units.
WILSHIRE GRAND REPLACEMENT: Demolition of the old Wilshire Grand hotel is underway. It is the first step in Korean Air’s plan to build a $1 billion tower in its place. A groundbreaking on the 71-story structure with 900 hotel rooms and 400,000 square feet of office space is slated for this fall. High-speed elevators will ferry hotel visitors to a top-floor “sky lobby.” Martin Project Management, a new venture by architect Chris Martin (whose firm AC Martin is handling the project designs), is managing the development on the northwest corner of Seventh and Figueroa streets. Seoul-based Korean Air is a subsidiary of the shipping magnate Hanjin. A hotel operator has not yet been selected. The project’s design is the first Downtown high-rise to utilize a sloped roof, instead of a flat surface to accommodate a full helipad. In lieu of the helipad, the tower will include an array of safety infrastructure elements to satisfy fire code requirements. The project is slated to be completed in December 2016.
BROADWAY REVITALIZATION: The 10-year Bringing Back Broadway initiative spearheaded by 14th District City Councilman José Huizar hit its halfway point in January. The Broadway Streetscape Plan is scheduled to go before the city Planning Commission this month. It would reduce the lanes of traffic on Broadway from four to three, with one southbound and two northbound lanes. It also calls for widening sidewalks, creating more sidewalk dining and increasing loading areas to help businesses. Additionally, work continues on the effort to create a set of guidelines to activate the 1.5 million square feet of vacant space above street level. Huizar said an ordinance should be completed this year. In September, the Delijani family, which owns the Palace, State, Los Angeles and Tower theaters, announced a phased, long-term plan to upgrade the venues and hold concerts and other events there, while also creating restaurants and bars. Meanwhile, business continues to advance on the street. In December the 17,000-square-foot French restaurant Les Noces Du Figaro opened at 618 S. Broadway and construction is under way on a Ross Dress for Less at 719-725 S. Broadway. The Oregon-based Ace Hotel is working on bringing a 180-room boutique establishment to the United Artists Theater at 933 S. Broadway.
CENTRAL REGION HIGH SCHOOL NO. 12: Completion of a 500-seat facility in City West is expected this month, with classes starting in August for ninth and 10th grade students at a new charter school, said Ana Ponce, founder of Camino Nuevo Charter Academy, the organization that will run the school. By 2015 the school will add 11th and 12th grade classes. The 55,361-square-foot, three-story school at 1215 W. Miramar St. will include 19 classrooms, 47 underground parking spaces, administrative offices, a dining area, a library and science labs. It is located immediately east of the Miguel Contreras Learning Complex athletics fields.
FEDERAL COURTHOUSE: A groundbreaking on a $400 million federal courthouse is slated to take place this year, with completion by 2016, according to officials with the office of Congresswoman Lucille Roybal-Allard. In December, federal officials announced that Skidmore, Owings & Merrill Architects had won the contract to build the facility that will rise on a current empty lot on the southwest corner of First Street and Broadway. SOM will partner with Clark Construction on the 500,000-square-foot building. The courthouse will rise on a 3.6-acre eyesore property that once held a state office building. The project will include 24 courtrooms, 32 judges’ chambers and 110 parking spots. It would house district judges, jury assembly facilities, offices for the U.S. Marshals service and others.
HALL OF JUSTICE: Work continues on the rehabilitation of the historic Hall of Justice, with completion expected by the end of 2014 and an opening in early 2015, said James Kern, a spokesman for the County Department of Public Works. Currently the building is undergoing seismic improvements that will make it sturdier. In March, crews will begin power washing the exterior of the 1925 edifice at 211 W. Temple St. The structure was damaged in the 1994 Northridge earthquake and is undergoing a $234 million renovation. The work includes elevator upgrades and new electrical and mechanical systems. Architecture firm AC Martin is teaming with Clark Construction on the project that will preserve architectural elements and create an underground 1,000-car garage on the north side of the building. The first floor of the structure will feature a display area with some of the property’s historic elements, including a cellblock that once held Charles Manson. When the building opens it will house the Sheriff’s Department and the District Attorney’s office.
LOS ANGELES RIVER: Work continues on the $2-billion, decades-long effort to revitalize the Los Angeles River. This month First District City Councilman Ed Reyes, who is spearheading the effort, announced a $2.5 million federal grant to study ways to activate the river in communities such as Atwater Village, Cypress Park and Lincoln Heights. Last summer the state legislature approved a bill that makes it easier for people to access the river. SB 1201 requires the Los Angeles County Flood Control District to provide public access to navigable sections of the river for recreation and educational purposes. The Environmental Protection Agency has also designated the river as “traditional navigable waters,” which led to supervised canoe and kayak trips down a 1.5-mile stretch in the San Fernando Valley. Additionally, the Los Angeles River Ecosystem Restoration Feasibility Study has been included in President Barack Obama’s 2013 budget.
LOS ANGELES STATE HISTORIC PARK: Progress continues on the $18 million effort to renovate the Los Angeles State Historic Park. Funding for the entire project has been included in this year’s state budget; it will go before the legislature for approval in May, said Sean Woods, a California State Parks superintendent. Construction drawings are about 75% complete and a groundbreaking is expected this fall with completion 12-18 months later. Work at the 32-acre attraction will add a welcome pavilion, a promenade for a farmers market, an amphitheater, wetlands areas and infrastructure improvements such as permanent restrooms.
LOS ANGELES STREETCAR: The effort to build a streetcar in Downtown cleared a major hurdle in December when voters approved a tax of up to $85 million to pay for a portion of the $125 million project. It is now in the environmental review stage. A draft Environmental Impact Report is expected to be complete this summer and a final version will go before the City Council in spring 2014. Officials with Los Angeles Streetcar Inc. are also putting together their plan to secure $52 million for the project from the federal government’s Small Starts program. The streetcar would run from L.A. Live to the Civic Center with spines on Broadway and Hill Street. Streetcar officials hope to open the project by 2016.
NINTH STREET ELEMENTARY SCHOOL: An extensive $54 million replacement of the Ninth Street Elementary School is nearly finished, and a fall opening is expected for the campus at Ninth Street and Towne Avenue, said Shannon Haber, an LAUSD project representative. The work involves replacing old bungalows and creating a 450-seat elementary school that will be operated by the LAUSD. The project will include a 405-seat middle school that will be run by Para Los Niños.
PARKER CENTER REPLACEMENT: Officials with the city Bureau of Engineering are still preparing a draft environmental impact report analyzing proposals for razing, replacing or renovating Parker Center. The report on the now empty former LAPD headquarters — the final employees working in the building were relocated in January — is slated to be released in April, at which point the city will take public comments on the options, said Tonya Durrell, a spokeswoman for the Department of Public Works. The structure at 150 N. Los Angeles St. was mostly vacated in 2009 when the LAPD moved into the new $440 million Police Administration Building. The EIR is studying five options for the Civic Center site, including reusing the edifice, partial demolition and renovation, and demolition and replacement with a temporary parking lot.
PICO HOUSE: Proposals from two operators hoping to develop the 1863 Pico House were rejected by the city, said Chris Espinosa, the general manager of El Pueblo de Los Angeles Historical Monument. Espinosa said neither proposal met the criteria set forth by the city to transform the structure, which was built by and named for former governor Pio Pico. Espinosa said one developer asked for a 50-year lease to make the project profitable; the city was prepared to offer a 20-year agreement. Now, he said, the city will likely bring in a consultant to determine what improvements need to be considered in order to make the city’s first three-story building more cost-effective for future developers. In the meantime, the building will continue to be used as a meeting and event space and for filming.
REGIONAL CONNECTOR: The Metropolitan Transportation Authority is in the final design phase for the $1.37 billion Regional Connector. Crews are already at work relocating utilities along the 1.9-mile underground light-rail route. The agency launched a bidding competition to find a developer to oversee the design/build project. The connector calls for three new underground stations at First Street and Central Avenue; Second Street and Broadway; and Second and Hope streets. The project is facing a legal challenge from Thomas Properties Group and the Westin Bonaventure Hotel, which object to plans to build a tunnel with the so-called cut-and-cover method down Flower Street; they say that will decimate business. Most of the route will be dug by an underground tunnel-boring machine. A judge last fall denied a request from the property owners to halt all project work as their lawsuits unfold. The tentative timeline calls for a completion in 2019. At metro.net/projects/connector.
SIXTH STREET BRIDGE REPLACEMENT: HNTB Corp. won a design competition last fall to replace the ailing Sixth Street Bridge, and city officials are now working on final contract negotiations with the firm, said Tonya Durrell, a spokeswoman for the city Bureau of Engineering. The $400 million contract will formalize the working design, budget and schedule of the project. HNTB’s design features a series of arches spanning the length of the bridge connecting the Arts District and Boyle Heights. The arches connect with the ground near the banks of the Los Angeles River, where HNTB imagines a series of park spaces. The design team assembled by Kansas City, Mo.-based HNTB, which has a Downtown office, includes prominent L.A. architects Michael Maltzan and AC Martin Partners. Once a contract is signed, it will mark the start of a design process that could last up to two years, said City Engineer Gary Lee Moore. Construction would take three years, so tentative completion could be as far off as 2019. The project comes as the 1932 bridge slowly deteriorates. A condition known as alkali-silica reaction has caused the concrete in the structure to weaken. Officials have stressed, however, that there is no imminent risk of collapse.
FARMERS FIELD/CONVENTION CENTER EXPANSION: The City Council in September approved the development agreement and the 10,000-page Environmental Impact Report for the Farmers Field project. However, the development that would create a South Park football stadium and renovate and reposition the aged Convention Center is on hold as Anschutz Entertainment Group is up for sale. The uncertain ownership situation is why, most observes believe, no professional team announced a move to Los Angeles when the six-week window for such decisions was open early this year. Although AEG officials had hoped to break ground on a 68,000-seat stadium by this spring, plans will be delayed at least a year; AEG has said it will not begin construction until a deal with a team is signed and an agreement with the NFL is in place. The $1.4 billion project would raze the Convention Center’s West Hall and erect the stadium where it now stands. A replacement for the lost Convention Center 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 soonest a game could take place would be fall 2018. 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. Additionally, a $10 million renovation of the Convention Center’s Gilbert Lindsay Plaza would create a “gateway” for the stadium by turning the concrete area into a tailgating center with green space. It would hold up to 15,000 people.
ITALIAN AMERICAN MUSEUM: Light demolition work has begun at the Italian Hall as part of the effort to open the $4.5 million Italian American Museum of Los Angeles. The work by the city’s Bureau of Engineering and General Services Department includes removal of drywall and other non-historic elements in the 1908 structure. An opening is expected in late 2014. The museum will be on the second floor of the building at 645 N. Main St. The structure’s façade as well as the Main Street storefronts and windows will be restored and seismic upgrades will be implemented. The museum will house a 4,000-square-foot main showroom and multipurpose space and will have exhibits that can be moved to make way for cultural and educational programs and events. The museum will be operated by the Historic Italian Hall Foundation. At italianhall.org.
NATURAL HISTORY MUSEUM: In July, the Natural History Museum will open a new 14,000-square-foot permanent exhibit. Becoming Los Angeles, which will look at 500 years of local cultural and ecological history, will mark the culmination of the NHM’s seven-year, $135 million transformation that includes the Dinosaur Hall, which opened in 2011. The North Campus, a 3.5-acre project that will create a new “front yard” for the facility, with outdoor exhibits in 11 zones, is expected to debut in June, in time for the centennial of the NHM. Becoming Los Angeles will employ artifacts as well as audio and video components in the effort to trace the city’s history from pre-European times to the modern era. At nhm.org.
REGENT THEATRE RENOVATION: The plan to reactivate the Regent Theatre at 448 S. Main St. is proceeding slowly. Mitchell Frank, who also owns the concert promoter Spaceland Productions and is a partner in the Seventh Street restaurant Más Malo, has approvals to operate a live music facility and include a restaurant. However, he has yet to secure building permits. Frank said he hopes to get permits by March to begin building out the space. If that happens, an opening for the Historic Core project would take place by early fall, Frank said.
SPRING STREET PARK: A July opening is scheduled for the Spring Street Park, said Mike Schull, assistant general manager for the Los Angeles Department of Recreation and Parks. Landscaping work is underway at the .7-acre site at 426 S. Spring St. The $8 million project between two condominium buildings is being designed by Lehrer Architects. It will feature a lawn, plazas with curving benches and a water feature.
THE BROAD: Work continues on the $130 million museum known as The Broad, which is rising on top of a three-level, 370-car garage that was completed last year. Officials marked the “topping out” of the structure in January. Once completed, the museum on Grand Avenue across from the Colburn School will house philanthropist Eli Broad’s 2,000-piece contemporary art collection. The institution being designed by the New York firm Diller Scofidio + Renfro was originally slated for a late 2013 opening, though that has been pushed back to mid-2014. The installation of an elaborate, honeycomb-like veil that will shroud the building is slated to start this spring. At broadartfoundation.org.
845 S. FIG/SMART & FINAL: The State Bar of California purchased the building at 845 S. Figueroa St. from L&R Group in November and will use the upper four floors for its Southern California operations. The building renovation initiated by L&R is ongoing and is expected to be complete shortly. The State Bar will begin its tenant improvements soon thereafter and will take occupancy in the fourth quarter of this year, according to a spokesman for the State Bar. Smart & Final has started building out its space for a ground floor supermarket and plans to open in the second quarter of this year.
ACE HOTEL: An opening is expected late this year for the Ace Hotel, said Ryan Bukstein, a representative with the Oregon-based parent company. The project is transforming the 13-floor United Artists Theatre at 933 S. Broadway into a 180-room hotel. The project will include a 1,600-seat entertainment space in the theater, a pool, restaurant and bar. The structure was built in 1927 by United Artists founders D.W. Griffith, Charlie Chaplin, Douglas Fairbanks and Mary Pickford. For years it operated as the headquarters church for televangelist Dr. Gene Scott. At acehotel.com.
CLARK HOTEL: The Clark Hotel, an 11-story building at 426 S. Hill St., has long stood as an empty eyesore just north of Pershing Square. Officials representing building owner the Chetrit Group did not respond to requests for comment about the current status of the building. However, officials previously said that interior renovations have been completed, and that the structure is slated to become a 347-room hotel, operated by New York’s King & Grove Hotels, with three restaurants. The project would also hold an 11,500-square-foot banquet space. No obvious work has taken place to upgrade the faded exterior of the property.
CLEANTECH MANUFACTURING CENTER: Development firm Trammell Crow plans to build a $40 million manufacturing facility geared to clean technology companies on a 20-acre site purchased from the Community Redevelopment Agency last year. The CRA had long struggled to sell the site near 15th Street and Washington Boulevard, in part because the land had been contaminated by previous occupants. Trammell Crow bought the property for $15.4 million, which covered the amount of the outstanding loan made on the site to the CRA. Trammell Crow has pledged to conduct a $100,000 marketing campaign to attract clean technology manufacturing tenants to the property. The purchasing agreement, however, does not require the firm to lease space to clean technology companies. It could also target food distributors and garment makers. Trammell Crow is currently in the preliminary planning phase for the project.
CLIFTON’S CAFETERIA RENOVATION: Andrew Meieran, the owner of Clifton’s Brookdale Cafeteria, is moving forward on a major renovation that will add three new bars and another restaurant to the historic property at 648 S. Broadway. Meieran said a series of delays related to city plan check and inspection issues has put him nine months behind schedule. He hopes to open the first phase of the project, which includes the cafeteria, plus two new bars, by October. The project involves updating the cafeteria on the ground level without altering its historic character; the street-level overhaul will anchor the first phase of the project, which will also include the addition of a bar on the mezzanine. Future phases will include the transformation of the second floor into a jazz and blues lounge called The Brookdale, as well as a speakeasy-style bar in the basement. The third floor is slated to get a tiki bar dubbed Pacific Seas, after Clifton’s other original location (Clifton’s had two outposts, Clifton’s Brookdale and Clifton’s Pacific Seas). A fine dining restaurant will go on the fourth floor and an existing bakery will be renovated and set up to sell wholesale and retail pastry products. Meieran hopes to get the property listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
EMBASSY AUDITORIUM: Last August, plans to turn the vacant Embassy Hotel and Trinity Auditorium in South Park into a 183-room hotel went before the Department of City Planning. However, officials representing property owner Chetrit Group, a New York-based family-run real estate firm, did not respond to requests for comment about the current state of the development. According to the most recent information available, plans call for turning the historic structure at 849 S. Grand Ave. into the Empire Hotel, with a 7,600-square-foot outdoor garden, an approximately 2,000-square-foot ground-floor restaurant with more than 200 seats, a lobby bar and a lounge. The project near the FIDM campus would also upgrade the approximately 12,000-square-foot theater in the building.
LA KRETZ INNOVATION CAMPUS/CLEANTECH INCUBATOR: A groundbreaking is expected by May for a clean technology business incubator in the Arts District, said Neal Anderson, assistant director of the project at 411 Hewitt St. The campus will open in phases, with the first part coming online within eight months of the groundbreaking and a full opening nine months later. The facility, to be built inside an existing structure, was conceived by a partnership between the now defunct Community Redevelopment Agency and the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power. Officials are expecting construction bids this week. The campus will house the Los Angeles Cleantech Incubator, which will encompass a group of clean technology companies working with processes related to sustainable uses of natural resources. The DWP paid $11.1 million for the building on the block bounded by Hewitt, Colyton, Fifth and Palmetto streets. A temporary 3,500-square-foot facility is operating nearby. City and incubator officials are trying to secure public funds to turn an adjacent parking lot into a park. At laincubator.org.
L.A. HOTEL RENOVATION: The former Los Angeles Downtown Marriott, currently known as the L.A. Downtown Hotel, is now part of the Hyatt Regency chain. However, the new name of the 469-room establishment at 333 S. Figueroa St. won’t be official until May, when it will become The Hyatt Regency Los Angeles Downtown. The property is currently undergoing a $20 million renovation that includes upgrades to all the guest rooms, along with improvements to the lobby, the meeting and ballroom areas and the restaurants. The hotel’s 290 employees will remain on staff after the name change.
LITTLE TOKYO GALLERIA: According to the most recent information available, construction continues on upgrades to the faded, 25-year-old shopping center at 333 S. Alameda St. In late December, an outpost of Tom N Toms Coffee, a Korean-based chain, opened at the shopping center. Officials involved with the project have said the renovation will bring a new entertainment hub anchored by a 24-lane bowling alley, a sports bar, a family restaurant and an upgraded video arcade. The mall owners, known as Three Alameda Plaza, purchased the 250,000-square-foot property in 2008. Other plans for the three-story edifice include the addition of new restaurants and giving a modern look to the gray, fortress-like exterior.
MARRIOTT TOWER: Construction crews are nearing completion of the seventh floor of a 23-story building that will hold two Marriott hotel brands, and a topping out of the structure is expected to take place in July, said Gregory Steinhauer, chief operating officer of Seattle-based American Life Inc., which is partnering on the $172 million South Park development with Portland’s Williams/Dame & Associates. The 373,000-square-foot project will hold a 174-room Courtyard by Marriott and a 218-room Residence Inn in a high-rise just north of the Ritz-Carlton/J.W. Marriott. The hotels are expected to open in July 2014, said Steinhauer. The project is being built by SODO Builders LA LLC, with designs by Portland’s GBD Architects.
ROSS DEPARTMENT STORE: A Ross Dress for Less at 719-725 S. Broadway is scheduled to open in the first quarter of this year. The exterior of the building, which once housed the Woolworth Department Store, has been cleaned and signage with the new name has been installed. The 39,000-square-foot discount retail outlet will fill the basement and ground floor of the building. Plans call for the restoration of the grand staircases, two new elevators, an escalator system and a DWP substation in the basement to power the property. Ross signed a 10-year lease for the structure and has the option of expanding into the two upper floors of the three-story edifice.
SPARKLE FACTORY: Jewelry designer Tarina Tarantino and her husband and business partner Alfonso Campos are converting a long-vacant 1914 building at 908 S. Broadway into a headquarters for their jewelry empire. Dubbed the Sparkle Factory, the 23,800-square-foot structure will house design and production operations as well as a ground-floor store. Several complications tied to the building’s aged infrastructure have delayed the construction timetable, but Campos said the company plans to move into the upper floor offices by March 1. A street level shop is slated to open in late summer. The building is known in part for the artwork painted on its side by British street artist Banksy. At thesparklefactory.blogspot.com.
URBAN RADISH: An April opening is scheduled for a market that will sell produce, meat, seafood, dairy and other items, said Carolyn Paxton, co-owner of Urban Radish. The project is turning an 8,200-square-foot warehouse into a market across the street from the Biscuit Company and Toy Factory lofts in the southeast portion of the Arts District. The business will be housed in a metal building and will have an outdoor patio and tables. In addition to the grocery items, Urban Radish will sell sandwiches, salads, artisanal meats and cheeses and locally baked breads. The large mural of a chipmunk on the exterior will remain and greenery will be added around the building. At facebook.com/urbanradish.
WAL-MART NEIGHBORHOOD MARKET: An opening is expected within a few months for a Wal-Mart Neighborhood Market in Chinatown, said Rachel Wall, a company representative. The 33,000-square-foot supermarket on the ground floor of Grand Plaza, a 302-unit senior housing complex at 701 W. Cesar Chavez Ave., will employ 65 people; the store will sell groceries and include a pharmacy. The project squeaked through the city approval process by obtaining its final building permit a day before the City Council approved an ordinance aimed at stopping Wal-Mart from opening the store.
BUDOKAN OF LOS ANGELES: Backers of the Budokan of Los Angeles, a proposed $22 million recreation center being planned by the Little Tokyo Service Center, continue to seek funding for the project. The biggest gift, a $5 million grant of Prop 84 funds distributed by the California Department of Parks and Recreation, came last year; so far a total of about $8 million has been raised, said project manager Scott Ito. The Budokan would be a 38,000-square-foot facility on Los Angeles between Second and Third streets. The effort would include a four-court gymnasium, community space and a rooftop garden with a jogging track. It would provide space for several sports with an emphasis on martial arts tournaments. Ito said project officials hope to break ground in 2014 and open the facility in 2016. At budokanoflosangeles.com.
GOOD SAMARITAN EXPANSION: Construction on a 190,000-square-foot medical office building at Wilshire Boulevard and Witmer Street in City West is on schedule and an opening is expected in the second quarter of 2014, according to a hospital official. The $80 million effort will create a facility with a pharmacy, an outpatient surgical center and five levels of physicians’ offices. The building will also serve as home to some of Good Samaritan’s specialty medical clinics, among them cardiology, orthopedics and primary care. The oncology/cancer services department will move into the building with advanced technology, and the imaging/radiation department will expand to include services dedicated to women. Architecture firm Ware Malcomb is overseeing the design, while Millie and Severson is handling construction.
HOPE STREET FAMILY CENTER: A grand opening is expected this fall for the $15.7 million Hope Street Margolis Family Center, formerly known as the Hope Street Family Center, according to a project representative. Construction of the four-story, 25,500-square-foot project, a partnership between Abode and California Hospital Medical Center, should be complete in May. The building at 1600 S. Hope St. will offer services supporting low-income families and will include an outdoor basketball court and a children’s play area. The building is slated to secure LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) certification.
OPENED IN THE PAST FIVE MONTHS
APEX: Move-ins began in November for Apex, a 30-story South Park luxury apartment complex. The sleek dark glass edifice at Ninth and Figueroa streets, with portions that bolt out of the top floors, was originally developed as the Concerto by Sonny Astani; he lost the project amid the recession due to problems with his lender, and it ultimately ended up in the hands of ST Residential, a division of Starwood Capital. The 270 residences range from 650-2,300 square feet. Rents are $1,900-$10,000 per month and the one- to three-bedroom apartments come with hardwood floors, washers and dryers and stainless steel appliances. The project includes a 966-space garage that also serves the nearby Concerto Lofts. Additionally, the project has a dog park and a lounge for residents.
BEACON LOFTS: Move-ins have begun at the Beacon Lofts, a long-delayed 53-condominium complex at 825 E. Fourth St., said Peklar Pilavjian of developer Alameda and Fourth, LLC. About 18 residences have been sold and another 30 are in escrow, he said. Prices for the condos in the $20 million development run from the low $200,000s to the high $700,000s; units range from 650-2,000 square feet. Pilavjian said he expects to sell out within two months. The Beacon Lofts were constructed out of a 1923 Arts District building. A second phase of the project is in the planning stage. At beacon-lofts.com.
CHESTER WILLIAMS BUILDING: Downtown Management finished its transformation of the 75-year-old Chester Williams Building at Fifth Street and Broadway last fall. The building with 88 apartments is now about 65% leased, said Greg Martin, Downtown Management’s vice president. The project cost was about $15 million. Pharmacy chain Walgreens has signed a lease for the 13,908-square-foot ground-floor commercial space. The shop, which will compete with the Rite Aid across the street, is slated to open late this year.
FIGAT7TH RENOVATION/CITY TARGET: Brookfield Properties’ $40 million upgrade to the FIGat7th shopping center was completed in the fall, and an opening for the 104,000-square-foot City Target, the retail anchor of the project, took place Oct. 10. The upgrades to the 1986 shopping center include a new grand entrance with a stairway that opens the facility to pedestrians on Figueroa Street. As part of the project, the mall’s parking has been reconfigured, with 500 of the 2,400 spaces set aside solely for those who come to shop or dine. The renovation of the mall was designed by Gensler and began in January 2011. The array of stairways, zigzagging escalators and side elevators has been removed, as has a large metal frame that once hovered above the mall; the latter has been replaced with a glass canopy and twin columns sheathed in glass. The project includes a 25,000-square-foot food court with 500 seats and, ultimately, approximately 20 restaurants. Coming in the spring is an outpost of Sport Chalet. The sporting goods giant will fill a 26,800-square-foot space on the lower level.
METRO AT CHINATOWN SENIOR LOFTS: Move-ins for the $44 million, 123-unit Chinatown project began in January, said Tim Soule, project manager for Meta Housing, the developer. The project at 808 N. Spring St. converted two aged structures into an affordable senior housing complex with rents ranging from $499 for studios to $1,112 for two-bedroom lofts. The project includes an art gallery fronting Alameda Street that will display work by the tenants. There is also an exercise room, screening room and tenant lounge. There is no onsite parking available, but the complex is a short walk from the Chinatown Gold Line station. Funding came from sources including the Los Angeles Housing Department’s Neighborhood Stabilization program and tax-exempt bonds.
NEW GENESIS APARTMENTS: Leasing began in November, and Skid Row Housing Trust’s $22.3 million New Genesis Apartments is now 90% occupied, said SRHT Executive Director Mike Alvidrez. The project at 458 S. Main St. has 106 residences, mostly for homeless individuals, but 25% of the apartments are set aside for working people earning less than $35,460 per year. The complex has a solar energy system on the roof. The food truck Great Balls on Tires has signed a lease to operate a restaurant on the ground floor, but the timeline for opening is uncertain. Ice cream shop Peddler’s Creamery is building out a store in the other commercial space and is expected to open this spring. At skidrow.org.
SIQUEIROS MURAL AND INTERPRETIVE CENTER: On Oct. 9, David Alfaro Siqueiros’ mural “América Tropical” went on public view, 80 years to the day after it had initially been unveiled. The original artwork sparked controversy for its images that were interpreted as anti-American, and it was soon whitewashed. Decades later, the city and the Getty Conservation Institute partnered on a $9.95 million effort to remove the paint and “conserve” rather than restore the 80-by-18-foot artwork. The mural, on the second-floor exterior wall of Olvera Street’s Italian Hall, is visible from a specially created viewing area built above the Sepulveda House. The platform is 150 feet away from the artwork. “América Tropical” is now protected from the elements by a canopy and side shades. The project includes the interpretive center, which is inside the Sepulveda House. It features bilingual, multimedia presentations about Siqueiros’ life, the artwork and the conservation process.
YWCA JOB CORPS CAMPUS: The $78 million project from the YWCA of Greater Los Angeles was dedicated on Oct. 4. The seven-story Jobs Corps building at 1020 S. Olive St. houses 400 students between the ages of 16 and 24 as the YWCA prepares them for careers in fields such as healthcare, electronics, business and the culinary arts. Highlights include a library with 95 computers hooked into the Los Angeles City Municipal Library, as well as a medical center that, like other parts of the building, is both a teaching and service facility. The project allowed Job Corps operations previously split between Downtown and Hollywood to be concentrated in a single location.
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