DOWNTOWN LOS ANGELES - Once again, the money is pouring into Downtown Los Angeles. As it does, the face of the community continues to change.
This isn’t surprising, as the amount of construction activity in the area has been steadily increasing for several years, having recovered from the depths of the recession. Still, in the past few months, there has been a surge of new investment. Developers, including many with national portfolios, are realizing that the market has room for plenty of additions, particularly in the housing sector.
In certain cases, the investment comes in big ways. Geoff Palmer, who has consistently been ahead of the curve in understanding Downtown’s appetite for rental housing, is embarking on plans to build nearly 700 apartments at Olympic Boulevard and Broadway. In the Arts District, Legendary Development is pushing forward on a 472-unit housing complex… right near One Santa Fe, which will create another 438 apartments.
It isn’t just housing. Saeed Farkhondehpour recently unveiled plans to bring an eight-screen movie theater, a permanent farmers market and a new restaurant hub to the Historic Core as part of the next phase of his Medallion project. In South Park, developer Williams/Dame & Associates is planning a second hotel tower, even as its first is still a year from opening. Then there’s the business scene, with plans to turn the Desmond Building at 11th and Hope streets into a creative office and retail complex.
The investment means a lot of things: More energy for Downtown, thousands of construction jobs and a diversifying residential base. It’s another reminder that the community is in the midst, not at the end, of its growth phase.
In the following pages, Los Angeles Downtown Newsprovides the latest information on 88 Downtown projects.
These projects were either publicly announced, were revived or gained prominence in the past three months.
916 GEORGIA ST.: TRG, a Century City real estate services firm, bought a three-story apartment complex near L.A. Live in March that it plans to turn into luxury rentals. The firm paid $3.05 million for what it said is a 100-year-old building at 916 Georgia St. The 18,000-square-foot structure is on the same block as the under-construction Marriott hotels complex, north of Olympic Boulevard. TRG plans to spend $1 million on upgrades to the building by next March. The firm is in the planning process for the renovation and has not yet submitted documents to the city, said project spokesman Bruce Beck.
950 E. THIRD ST.: Legendary Development is moving forward with plans to build a 472-unit apartment complex on a six-acre site that abuts the Southern California Institute of Architecture. Legendary, which bought the property three years ago out of bankruptcy (it was previously owned by the now defunct Meruelo Maddux Properties), hopes to break ground by the end of the year, said Surjit Soni, the firm’s managing director. The development, which calls for seven structures to rise around a 922-space parking facility, is already entitled. To proceed, the developer needs approval for a site plan change, which it is expected to get. The project at 950 E. Third St. would be comprised of a series of structures of five to six stories each. Once it starts, construction would take about three years, with a first phase of 248 units opening sooner. The project cost has not been finalized.
BARKER BLOCK: On April 18, developer CityView and its financial partner, the investment firm Blackstone, held a groundbreaking ceremony for the 68-condominium final phase of the Arts District project the Barker Block. Kor Group created the first 242 units in the project at 530 S. Hewitt St., which started opening back in 2006. The $25 million, 72,451-square-foot final phase will transform a nearly century-old building originally constructed for the Barker Furniture Company. The project will create a mix of lofts with open floor plans, from 650-2,000 square feet, and townhouses ranging from 1,100-1,300 square feet. Interior elements will include steel staircases with wood steps and dual-pane windows. Although price points have not been set, a City View official said the residences will likely go from the low $300,000s to the high $500,000s.
DESMOND BUILDING: Lincoln Property Company closed a deal in April to buy the Desmond Building, a 1917 five-story structure in South Park; Lincoln plans to turn the structure at 11th and Hope streets into a creative office and retail complex. The firm is in the planning and design phase and hopes to apply for building permits in the coming months and start construction by the end of the year, said Lincoln Vice President Rob Kane. Lincoln plans to spend about $9 million to convert the building and add a sixth floor. Other work will include updating the mechanical systems and interior finishes and replacing windows. Plans also call for restaurant and retail uses on the ground floor. If construction starts this year, occupancy could begin in May 2014.
FIGUEROA CORRIDOR STREETSCAPE PROJECT: The organizers of the MyFigueroa project are finalizing the plan to drastically remake a three-mile section of Figueroa Street between the Financial District and USC. The project calls for bicycle tracks that will be separated from traffic by a new curb between Seventh and 11th streets and 21st Street and Exposition Boulevard. The other segments will have bike lanes with painted buffers. The project, which in addition to reducing car lanes calls for more trees, lighting and wider sidewalks, would also place bus stop shelters on the new cycle track curbs. The project’s scope includes spurs down 11th Street, which would get a new bike lane, and Martin Luther King Boulevard. The final environmental impact report for the plan is slated for release this month, said Tim Fremaux, a city Department of Transportation engineer. The $20 million plan is funded by a state grant that requires the work to be completed by the end of 2014; in order to meet that deadline, construction must begin by next January. Although many support the plan, some Figueroa Corridor stakeholders have raised opposition, fearing that it will snarl traffic. Implementation of the plan will require a City Council vote, which would come only after the public has the chance to comment on the final EIR. At myfigueroa.nationbuilder.com.
FOURTH AND BROADWAY TOWER: Izek Shomof, a veteran developer known for turning around old Historic Core buildings, is working on what would be his first ground-up project. Architects are currently preparing designs for a tower at least 22 stories high, with up to 400 units, on the southeast corner of Fourth Street and Broadway, said Shomof, who hopes to submit plans to the city by the end of this month. He expects the entitlement process to take at least 18 months. The tower would rise where a one-story retail building with rooftop parking now stands. The rooftop lot had long been used for outdoor movie events.
MEDALLION 2.0: Extensive plans for a second phase of the Medallion on the northeast corner of Fourth and Main streets have been announced. Initially, Saeed Farkhondehpour will spend $4.5 million to make over an underperforming portion of the project. Farkhondehpour is working on signing a lease with Texas-based Alamo Drafthouse to open an eight-screen movie theater. He expects it to debut in about 18 months. The Medallion opened in 2010, and though the 96 apartments filled quickly, only about 20 of the 200 small retail spaces pitched at wholesale and discount retailers were filled. Now, Farkhondehpour intends to pursue the Downtown residential and worker crowd by creating 10 more restaurants, trendy shops and a permanent farmers market. Sushi Zo, which serves traditional Japanese omakase (chef’s selection) meals, and Dr. J’s Café have already signed leases. They are expected to open in June. A later phase of the project calls for three more housing structures with a total of 300 residences.
MERCED THEATRE RENOVATION: On April 10, the City Council approved moving the city’s public access station, Channel 35, from its current Little Tokyo home to the 1870 Merced Theatre at the El Pueblo de Los Angeles Historical Monument. According to city documents, the project, which would require “significant retrofit and rehabilitation,” including seismic upgrades and an elevator that could accommodate freight and disabled access, could take about three years and cost up to $23 million. The move is intended to save money on rent and lower station operating costs. According to city documents, the annual savings in lease costs would be $341,710. The Merced Theatre, which is currently vacant, is in a two-block section of El Pueblo known as the Pico-Garnier Block. It was the first theater in Los Angeles and has been part of a long-planned restoration effort. Channel 35 airs all City Council meetings and other programs related to city departments and events.
OLYMPIC AND BROADWAY APARTMENTS: A January 2014 groundbreaking is planned for developer Geoff Palmer’s two-building, ground-up apartment project at Broadway and Olympic Boulevard. The project is a partnership between G.H. Palmer Associates and parking lot giant L&R Group. Part of the project calls for a 10-story, 439-unit apartment building on what is now a parking lot between Broadway and Main Street, north of Olympic and directly across from the upcoming Ace Hotel. The second building would be a six-story, 247-unit structure that would rise on the lot on Broadway south of Olympic Boulevard; it would require the demolition of a small building that fronts Olympic. Although Palmer’s projects are known for their Italian Renaissance-inspired design, plans here call for a look that fits with the neighborhood with structures clad in a red brick veneer, with off-white colored podiums and crowns and street-level podiums with columns.
RENAISSANCE HOTEL: In March, Anschutz Entertainment Group announced that it had sold a 60,000-square-foot parcel on the northeast corner of Olympic Boulevard and Georgia Street to Williams/Dame & Associates, and the Portland-based developer will build a $200 million Renaissance Hotel on the site. The 450-room establishment is slated to break ground in the first quarter of next year and finish in 2016. It is another major South Park play for the company that created the Evo, Luma and Elleven condominium complexes. Williams/Dame is also building the $172 million project that will bring 392 Courtyard by Marriott and Residence Inn rooms to a site adjacent to the just announced building.
12TH AND GRAND: Developer Sonny Astani and parking lot giant L&R Group are in the plan check stage for a proposed 640-unit residential complex at 12th Street and Grand Avenue. Astani said the $250 million development is slated to break ground in late 2013. Astani and L&R purchased the land last year for $29 million. The site is 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, which does not yet have a name, will eventually have 42,000 square feet of retail space. The property currently operates as a parking lot.
1027 WILSHIRE: Planning work continues on the effort 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 how long it takes to secure 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 all the structural work has been completed, 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 just east of Dodger Stadium. Plans in the estimated $15 million development 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. The project calls for re-glazing the entire structure. Crews are currently installing plumbing and mechanical infrastructure. At linear-city.com.
AVA LITTLE TOKYO: The structural concrete for a two-level underground parking garage was recently poured as part of Avalon Bay Communities’ project in Little Tokyo, according to a company spokesman. Phase one of the two-phase development 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. Work is also underway on phase two, a 176-apartment building with street level townhouses facing a promenade. Completion of phase two is expected in early 2015.
AVANT: Exterior construction is complete up to the sixth floor along Flower Street and to the fourth floor along Figueroa for the first phase of the $154 million Avant in South Park, said Mark Thomton, a project spokesman. A 2013 fourth quarter opening is expected for the building that will bring 247 apartments in a pair of seven-story buildings to two former parking lots at 1360 S. Figueroa St. and 1355 S. Flower St. The structures will be connected by a walkway. Construction on phase two, a third building at 1420 S. Figueroa St. with 193 units, began in late April, with site clearing and prep work currently underway. The plans from developer Century West Partners call for studio, one- and two-bedroom apartments as well as live-work units above 11,000 square feet of retail space.
BALTIMORE AND KING EDWARD HOTELS: Developer Izek Shomof is in the process of renovating a cluster of residential hotels at Fifth and Los Angeles streets. Shomof has been overseeing a phased upgrade of the 265-unit Baltimore and the 150-room King Edward hotels since purchasing the buildings last year. He is implementing a range of cosmetic improvements such as replacing carpet with tile, repairing broken windows and doing some painting. The work is being conducted in a manner that doesn’t displace current residents. Shomof said the upgrades will be completed in 2015.
DA VINCI: Work crews are currently laying the foundation for developer G.H. Palmer Associates’ 630-apartment complex in City West, said Geoff Palmer. An opening is expected in about a year for the 578,172-square-foot project at Fremont and Temple streets. It is rising on a 193,000-square-foot lot that Palmer purchased in 2004. The project will have five floors of housing above three levels of parking and 8,200 square feet of street-front retail. The style will be similar to Palmer’s other Italian-inspired apartment complexes in Downtown. 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. Crews are currently excavating the site and will start with a three-level underground parking structure, said Dan Garibaldi, the firm’s vice president of development. Carmel bought the three-acre property from 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. 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: Construction continues on a 22-story apartment tower in South Park. According to the most recent information available, completion of the 290-unit building at 801 S. Hope St. is expected in late 2014. The project by Atlanta-based developer Wood Partners calls for one- and two-bedroom residences with floor-to-ceiling glass walls, balconies, a pool deck and a six-floor parking garage with two underground levels. Plans also call for 5,000 square feet of retail space. Wood Partners purchased the site in 2008 but the project was put on hold due to the recession; it broke ground after the Downtown housing market picked up.
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. Crews are currently installing solar panels on the roof and are doing interior and exterior finishes, said Joseph Corcoran, SRO’s director of development. At srohousing.org.
HELLMAN/BANCO POPULAR BUILDING: Neighborhood Effort, a development team run by Allen Gross and his wife Arax Harutunian, remains 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, Harutunian said. The company is awaiting city approvals to proceed with the project that would create 212 apartments, 20% of which are slated to be set aside for affordable housing. Plans call for units that would average 610 square feet, with an overall range of 481-1,576 square feet. Once construction begins it would take about 18 months.
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 and is still navigating the city approvals process. 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: Construction continues on the $92.9 million Jia Apartments at the southern entrance to Chinatown. Officials with developer Equity Residential, who did not return calls for comment, previously said that the residences at Broadway and Cesar Chavez Avenue would open in phases, with the entire building coming online by December. It is unknown if they will still meet that timeline. Work began last year on the six-story building that was formerly known as Chinatown Gateway. When completed, it will house 280 studio, one- and two-bedroom apartments and 18,000 square feet of retail. The project at 639-643 Cesar Chavez Ave. is being designed by Thomas P. Cox Architects and will include a plaza, 17-foot wide sidewalks and a 588-car subterranean garage.
LORENZO: Move-ins were scheduled to begin May 17 for phase one of G.H. Palmer Associates’ $300 million, 950-unit Flower Street apartment complex, said company head Geoff Palmer. The first phase of the project is on a 9.4-acre lot at Flower Street and Adams Boulevard near USC. It includes 495 units and incorporates the Italian Renaissance-inspired design seen in Palmer’s numerous other Downtown projects. The development includes four swimming pools, two indoor basketball courts and a sand volleyball court. Rents for the one- to three-bedroom residences pitched to university students will start at $826 a bed. The second phase of the project is under construction and expected to open in March 2014. At lorenzousc.com.
LOTUS GARDEN: Exterior work is almost done and windows are currently being installed for the $24 million Lotus Garden, said Katelyn Silverwood, a spokeswoman for developer Affirmed Housing Group. The 60-unit project at 715 Yale St. is on track to open in August. The 63-car garage in which vehicles will be moved vertically and horizontally to allow for a space-saving stacking effect is nearly complete. The eight-story complex is for families earning 30%-60% of the county’s median household income. Rents in the Chinatown development are expected to range from $370 for studios to $1,236 for a three-bedroom apartment. The project was originally slated to open in spring 2012 but ran into delays due to shoring issues. Those have been resolved.
NEW PERSHING APARTMENTS : Skid Row Housing Trust recently secured financing for a transformation of the Pershing Hotel at Fifth and Main streets. The 69-unit residential hotel will be dismantled in a way that keeps the historic facades and several historic features intact. The project, called the New Pershing Apartments, will maintain the 69 units, though the residences will increase in size to approximately 350 square feet and include individual kitchens and bathrooms; the current rooms average approximately 150 square feet and do not include kitchens or bathrooms. The renovation, which starts this month, will take about 18 months; it 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 new building will also have community space and social service offices, as well as an outdoor courtyard in the center of the building. Architect Wade Killefer is handling the designs. At skidrow.org.
OLYMPIC AND HILL APARTMENTS: The Hanover Company recently broke ground on a 284-unit apartment complex at Olympic Boulevard and Hill Street. Hanover is building seven stories of housing with 12,400 square feet of street-level retail, said Melissa Pastula of Thomas P. Cox Architects, which is handling the designs. The ground floor will also hold three live/work units. Construction is expected to take about one year, with an opening slated for late 2014. Hanover, which developed the nearby luxury apartment tower 717 Olympic, bought the Hill Street site, a former parking lot, from Evoq Properties. At tcaarchitects.com/olympic-and-hill.
ONNI GROUP TOWER: The Vancouver-based Onni Group is in the early stage of erecting a 32-story apartment tower at 888 S. Olive St. The company broke ground on the project — the first of three developments it expects to do in Downtown Los Angeles — in February, and vertical construction began this month. A crane has gone up at the site. The approximately $100 million structure will create 283 one- to three-bedroom luxury apartments. Renderings depict a heavy use of glass and balconies on most units. The structure, which does not yet have a name, is slated to open in the first quarter of 2015.
PICO AND FIGUEROA HOUSING COMPLEX : The city launched a public bidding competition last fall, 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 hopes to sell the site to a developer that will erect a four-star or boutique hotel. The RFP netted two bids, but the timeline for evaluating the proposals is uncertain, said city Chief Legislative Analyst Gerry Miller. The property is a parking lot that sits immediately south of the building where a Hooters restaurant is located. 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 last year for $31 million.
PWC FAMILY HOUSING: The City West project is about 70% complete, with move-ins expected by October, said Takao Suzuki, a project representative. The 45-apartment project at 153 N. Glendale Blvd., which broke ground in May 2012, is a partnership between the Little Tokyo Service Center Community Development Corporation and the Pilipino Worker’s Center. The project includes 22 residences for homeless individuals, 54 parking spaces and approximately 4,000 square feet of common space.
RELATED PARCEL M TOWER: Grand Avenue project developer Related’s 19-story luxury apartment tower is moving forward. Crews have finished excavation on the site and have started pouring the concrete foundation, said Bill Witte, president of Related California. The $120 million 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, it is slated for a late 2014 completion. Related is in negotiations to bring up to two restaurants to the ground floor of the tower.
ROSSLYN HOTEL APARTMENTS: SRO Housing Corp. has started the first part of a three-phase project to renovate the 264-unit affordable housing complex at Fifth and Main streets. The nonprofit has relocated 60 tenants who volunteered to take relocation benefits. Another 90 building inhabitants were temporarily moved to other apartments within the building, said Joseph Corcoran, SRO’s director of development. 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 each stage. Currently, crews are doing lead and asbestos remediation. The work includes the addition of a restroom and kitchenette to all apartments and a restoration of the lobby, during which a now-covered 1,500-square-foot 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.
SARES-REGIS LITTLE TOKYO: A June groundbreaking is expected for a 240-unit apartment complex at Second and San Pedro streets in Little Tokyo, said Mike Winter, senior vice president of development for developer Sares-Regis Group. The company is still going through the city’s plan check process. Completion of the project at 232 E. Second St. should take two years, Winter said. The development will rise on what is now a parking lot.
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 while an architect works on designs. 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 is being transformed into a 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 has not been revealed. 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 floor will be converted to a parking facility for tenants. The project is slated for completion by late 2014, Needleman said.
SPRING STREET GARAGE AND APARTMENTS: Downtown Management is rethinking plans for a proposed apartment building that would sit above a new garage on what is now a parking lot between the Spring Arcade Building and the Alexandria Hotel. The firm was planning a 12-story project, but is now considering a 20-plus-story structure, said company vice president Greg Martin. The project does not yet have a budget or firm timeline.
STAR APARTMENTS: Skid Row Housing Trust’s Star Apartments is 80% complete. Construction crews are currently installing the steel walkways, preparing to start stuccoing the exterior of the building, running electrical cables and installing drywall for interior common spaces. All of the prefabricated residential units are complete with finishes and appliances installed. 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 and office in two street-level spaces. 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. The developer expects to get its certificate of occupancy by Aug. 1. At skidrow.org.
THE CHELSEA: Construction was set to begin in February, but due to permitting issues it has been pushed back to this month, said developer Nick Hadim. The $5 million project at 216 W. Fifth St. will transform a long-vacant structure into a 28-apartment building called The Chelsea. When work begins the focus will be on the interior of the edifice as crews open up a space for an elevator shaft, Hadim said. Completion on the Historic Core property nicknamed the Ghost Building is expected by early next year with move-ins slated for mid-2014. The seven-story former hotel 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.
TITLE INSURANCE BUILDING: Bel-Air based Capital Foresight is planning a conversion of the Title Insurance Building at 433 S. Spring St. into an as-yet-undetermined number of residential units. The company has yet to finalize its proposal but expects to submit plans to begin the entitlement process for the 1913 Art Deco structure within four months, according to a spokesman for the company. 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 could not be reached for comment.
BLOSSOM PLAZA: A groundbreaking ceremony for the long-delayed $95 million Blossom Plaza in Chinatown is slated to take place May 20, according to Monica Valencia, a spokeswoman for City Councilman Ed Reyes, whose First District covers Chinatown. Actual construction will begin in August, with completion coming by the end of 2005, according to developer Forest City. The project, at 900 N. Broadway, will replace the shuttered Little Joe’s restaurant and include about 240 market rate and affordable rental units, 20,000 square feet of retail and restaurant space, a 175-space parking garage and a public plaza that would connect Broadway to the Gold Line station.
CITY MARKET: Peter Fleming, the president and CEO of City Market of Los Angeles, has initiated the environmental analysis for a planned 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 late 2014, said project representative Paul Rohrer. 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. 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 calls for adaptive reuse conversions of two structures. One would create 150 housing units. The other would become an office building. Fleming has said it could take 20 years to complete the entire project. At citymarketla.com.
METROPOLIS: IDS Real Estate Group is selling the 6.5-acre site it had long planned to develop into a major mixed-use complex. The company recently modified its entitlements so that it has approvals to build five towers, instead of the previous four. The site could accommodate up to four hotels and a 420,000-square-foot office tower, according to CB Richard Ellis, which is marketing the site for sale. No asking price has been published. At cbremarketplace.com/metropolis.
ONE SANTA FE: Work is proceeding steadily on the $160 million One Santa Fe, with steel beam framing already rising. Plans for the massive project just east of the Southern California Institute of Architecture call for a six-story building with 78,000 square feet of retail and commercial space. The project is rising on a four-acre plot that is part 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 partners are Canyon-Johnson Urban Fund Investments, 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 a groundbreaking took place soon after.
THE GRAND: Grand Avenue project developer Related is in negotiations to extend a city/county deadline to break ground on a mixed use complex at Second Street and Grand Avenue. The developer was granted an interim extension that ended on May 15 (after press time). Pending a longer extension, Related plans to build a residential tower near the corner of Grand Avenue and Second Street that would likely be bigger than the company’s nearby 19-story Parcel M tower, said Bill Witte, president of Related California. Related is reworking plans for the parcel bounded by Grand Avenue, First, Second, and Hill streets, but the proposed residential tower would be the first component to break ground under the updated program. After the residential building, future structures and uses would be determined depending on market demand. The site, which is across the street from Walt Disney Concert Hall, was originally slated to be phase one of the Grand Avenue project, and called for a $2 billion mixed-use complex with hotels, condominiums and retail designed by Frank Gehry. That plan has been officially thrown out.
WILSHIRE GRAND REPLACEMENT: Demolition of the old Wilshire Grand hotel is expected to be complete in November, said Chris Martin, whose firm AC Martin is handling the new hotel designs. Martin also helms Martin Project Management, which is overseeing all aspects of the $1 billion development on the northwest corner of Seventh and Figueroa streets. A groundbreaking on project owner Korean Air’s 71-story structure with 900 hotel rooms and 400,000 square feet of office space is slated for December. The ongoing deconstruction of the building is slated to hit the street level in June; excavation of the site will follow. At the future hotel, high-speed elevators will ferry guests to a top-floor “sky lobby.” A hotel operator has not yet been selected. The project will be 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 complete in December 2016 and open in March 2017.
BROADWAY REVITALIZATION: Work continues on numerous aspects of the 10-year Bringing Back Broadway initiative, which reached its five-year point in January. In February the Planning Commission adopted the Broadway Streetscape Master Plan, which calls for widening sidewalks, creating more sidewalk dining and increasing loading areas to help businesses. A Broadway façade lighting grant program that will allocate $750,000 to 10 properties on the corridor between Second Street and Olympic Boulevard was announced this year; the money will pay for design, permitting and construction of lighting improvements. Grant recipients will be announced during the summer. Work also continues on drafting a Broadway Sign District to help re-create historic signs and encourage neon and vertical “blade” signs on the street. Additionally, an effort to create a set of guidelines to activate the 1.5 million square feet of vacant space above street level continues, and officials with the office of City Councilman José Huizar said they expect to complete a proposed ordinance this year. More businesses have also opened on the street. In January Maccheroni Republic debuted at 332 S. Broadway. In March Ross Dress for Less opened at 719 S. Broadway.
CENTRAL REGION HIGH SCHOOL NO. 12: An August opening is expected for a 500-seat charter high school in City West to be run by Camino Nuevo Charter Academy; classes will start with ninth and 10th grade students. The 55,361-square-foot, three-story institution is at 1215 W. Miramar St. It will house 19 classrooms with 47 underground parking spaces, administrative offices, a dining area, a library and science labs. By 2015 the school will add 11th and 12th grade classes. It is located just east of the Miguel Contreras Learning Complex athletics fields.
FEDERAL COURTHOUSE: A groundbreaking date has not yet been set, though officials hope to begin construction this year on a $400 million federal courthouse, according to project representatives. Officials hope to complete the Civic Center development in 2016. Skidmore, Owings & Merrill Architects, along with Clark Construction, won the contract to design and build the facility on a currently empty lot on the southwest corner of First Street and Broadway. The 500,000-square-foot building will rise on a 3.6-acre eyesore property that once held a state office building. The project immediately west of the L.A. Times building 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.
FIRST AND BROADWAY GRAFFITI PIT: The city has reached a tentative deal to pay $7.5 million for a long 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 the 1971 Sylmar earthquake. The state is looking to sell the plot in order to raise revenue; the city hopes to convert the parcel across from City Hall into a park. The city has allocated $9.9 million to acquire the site, then demolish and remove the remnants of the old office building, including an underground parking facility that is not structurally sound. The site, known by some as the “graffiti pit” because it was once covered with spray paint by vandals, is adjacent to Grand Park. The state Board of Public Works approved the sale on May 10, and the city now has 60 days to close escrow.
HALL OF JUSTICE: The seismic retrofit of the historic Hall of Justice has been completed and pressure washing of the exterior is underway, said Greg Zinberg, a project executive with Clark Construction, which is teaming with architecture firm AC Martin on the $234 million renovation. Completion is expected by the end of 2014 with an opening in early 2015. The 1925 edifice at 211 W. Temple St. was damaged in the 1994 Northridge earthquake and is undergoing a renovation that includes elevator upgrades and new electrical and mechanical systems and the building of an underground 1,000-car garage on the north side of the edifice. 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’s cell. When the Hall of Justice opens it will house the Sheriff’s Department and the District Attorney’s office.
LAPD PARK REPLANTING: The city Bureau of Engineering is overseeing a major replanting of the park and lawn surrounding the $440 million Police Administration Building. The work is about 85% done and is slated for completion this month. The project addresses a slate of landscape maintenance mishaps that allowed weeds to proliferate and caused many plants and trees to die. The renovation 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 heartier varieties. The project cost is $400,000, said Cora Jackson-Fossett, director of public affairs for the Department of Public Works.
LOS ANGELES RIVER: The long, ongoing effort to revitalize the Los Angeles River continues. In February, First District City Councilman Ed Reyes, who is spearheading the project, 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. Under a bill approved last year by the state legislature, the Los Angeles County Flood Control District is required to provide public access to navigable sections of the river for recreation and educational purposes. The Los Angeles River Ecosystem Restoration Feasibility Study has been included in President Barack Obama’s 2013 budget. 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 second annual Los Angeles River Fun Run was held May 5 to raise funds to help restore and protect the river.
LOS ANGELES STATE HISTORIC PARK: Los Angeles State Historic Park, the pacific attraction on the edge of Chinatown, could close in January for a major upgrade. It would remain shuttered for a year as part of an $18 million effort to renovate the 32-acre facility, said Sean Woods, a California State Parks superintendent. Funding for the project was included in this year’s state budget. Current plans call for the project to go out to bid in September, with construction starting in January, said Woods. The park has become a busy summer concert venue, with events that lure thousands of music fans. Popular attractions include Hard Summer, the FYF Fest and H2O Fest. The park also holds dozens of other events such as a craft fair, and is a destination for joggers. Woods said he expects many of the events to return in 2015. The plans call for adding a welcome pavilion, a promenade for a farmers market, an amphitheater, wetlands areas and infrastructure improvements such as permanent restrooms. Although some have questioned why the project cannot be done in stages to keep parts of the park open, Woods said that would increase the cost and delay the completion of the project by up to a year.
LOS ANGELES STREETCAR: In March, the City Council approved a 30-year operational plan for the proposed Downtown streetcar, identifying and committing up to $294 million to fund maintenance and operations of the project. The money would come not from the city’s general fund, but rather from the city’s portion of the county Measure R sales tax, according to 14th District Councilman José Huizar’s office. The operational plan would kick in only after the streetcar gets built. In December voters approved a tax of up to $85 million on area property owners (including condominium owners) to pay for a portion of the $125 million project. Los Angeles Streetcar Inc. officials hope to secure $52 million for the project from the federal government’s Small Starts program; that application will be filed this year. A draft Environmental Impact Report is expected to be complete this fall and a final version will go before the city council next spring. The streetcar would run from L.A. Live to the Civic Center with main spines on Broadway and Hill Street. Streetcar officials hope to open the project by 2016.
METRO BUS FACILITY: Metro is seven months into the construction of a $95 million bus maintenance facility. The Division 13 Bus Maintenance and Operations project is rising on the northeast and southeast corners of Vignes Street and Cesar Chavez Avenue, near Union Station. The project is designed to hold 200 buses and 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 is intended to meet Leadership in Energy & Environmental Design (LEED) Gold standards and low-maintenance vegetation will be incorporated as part of a green roof. The development will have 397 parking spaces for District 13 employees. McCarthy Building Companies is handling construction. Project completion is expected by summer 2014.
NINTH STREET ELEMENTARY SCHOOL: A $54 million overhaul of the Ninth Street Elementary School is on track with a fall opening expected for the campus at Ninth Street and Towne Avenue, said Shannon Haber, an LAUSD project representative. The project has replaced old bungalows and created 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 study on the now empty former LAPD headquarters — the final employees in the building were relocated in January — was slated to be released in April, but it has been delayed by another two months. It is now expected within the next 60 days, said Cora Jackson-Fossett, director of public affairs 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 evaluates 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: After rejecting proposals from two operators hoping to develop the 1863 Pico House, the city is now working on improving the plumbing in the building. This coincides with an attempt to increase use of the ground floor space for cultural and other activities, such as filming, said Chris Espinosa, the general manager of El Pueblo de Los Angeles Historical Monument. Espinosa said there are currently no plans to look for developers to transform the structure. The Pico House, which faces the El Pueblo plaza, was built by and named for former governor Pio Pico. It was the city’s first three-story building.
REGIONAL CONNECTOR: The Metropolitan Transportation Authority continues preliminary construction activities and final design work for the $1.37 billion Regional Connector. Crews have been relocating utilities along the 1.9-mile underground light-rail route. The agency’s next milestone is awarding a design/build contract for the project; that is expected in October. Major construction of the connector, which will entail digging an underground tunnel from Little Tokyo to the Financial District via Second Street, then cutting a trench down Flower Street to Wilshire Boulevard, is slated to start late this year. The project 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. The tentative timeline calls for completion in 2019. At metro.net/projects/connector.
SIXTH STREET VIADUCT REPLACEMENT: The city in March executed the design contract for the Sixth Street Viaduct replacement project with architect HNTB Corp. The contract formalizes the working design, budget and schedule of the replacement of the ailing bridge. With the $400 million project scheduled to require the temporary elimination of the span, the city is planning about 20 intersection improvements in the Arts District and Boyle Heights, primarily along Fourth, Sixth, Seventh and Alameda streets, Whittier Boulevard and Central Avenue. The improvements, which will start in spring 2014, are part of the city’s effort to reduce traffic impacts from the bridge closure during construction. Demolition is slated to start by fall 2014. Construction would take until late 2018. The design team includes prominent L.A. architects Michael Maltzan and the firm AC Martin. 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: The effort to erect a 68,000-seat football stadium and renovate the aged Convention Center was thrown into uncertainty in March when Tim Leiweke, the longtime president and CEO of developer Anschutz Entertainment Group, abruptly left the company. At his departure, AEG founder and chairman Phil Anschutz said they will continue to pursue the plan to lure the NFL to Downtown Los Angeles. 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. AEG has repeatedly said it would not begin construction until a deal to move a team to L.A. is signed; 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. As it pursues football, AEG is also expected to bid on a contract to operate and manage the Convention Center. The city currently operates the facility.
ITALIAN AMERICAN MUSEUM: The city is working on a deal with a nonprofit group to run the $4.5 million Italian American Museum of Los Angeles, said Chris Espinosa, the general manager of El Pueblo de Los Angeles Historical Monument. Renovations that include removal of drywall and other non-historic elements in the 1908 structure are underway and 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. At italianhall.org.
NATURAL HISTORY MUSEUM: A June 9 opening is expected for the Nature Gardens (formerly known as the North Campus) at the Natural History Museum; the 3.5-acre project will create a new “front yard” for the facility, with outdoor exhibits in 11 zones. Becoming Los Angeles, a 14,000-square-foot permanent exhibit that will examine 500 years of local cultural and ecological history, will open July 14. The exhibit will employ artifacts as well as audio and video components. Becoming Los Angeles will mark the culmination of the NHM’s seven-year, $135 million transformation that includes the Dinosaur Hall, which opened in 2011. At nhm.org.
REGENT THEATRE RENOVATION: The plan to reactivate the Regent Theatre at 448 S. Main St. is proceeding. After a lengthy permitting process, Mitchell Frank, who also owns the concert promoter Spaceland Productions, broke ground on the renovation project in April. Crews are currently working on structural elements inside the theater. Completion is slated for late this year or early 2014, Frank said. The live music facility will include a restaurant.
SPRING STREET PARK: A June opening is expected for the $8 million Spring Street Park, said Mike Shull, a superintendent with the city Department of Recreation and Parks. The grass and playground have been installed at the nearly one-acre attraction at 426 S. Spring St. and a sign has gone up on the park gate. The Historic Core facility features a lawn, plazas with curving benches and a fountain. A failed attempt by a nonprofit group to operate the park is getting another try; that came after Patti Berman, president of the Downtown Los Angeles Neighborhood Council, took the reins of a nonprofit formed in 2011. Berman said she hopes to have an operating contract signed with the city this month. Operating costs would be about $100,000 per year.
THE BROAD: The structural elements of the $130 million museum known as The Broad are almost complete and mechanical and electrical systems are now being installed, said Karen Denne, a spokeswoman for The Broad Foundation. The museum is rising on top of a three-level, 370-car garage. 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 in July. At broadartfoundation.org.
351 S. BROADWAY: Construction is on hold as developers seek additional permits and approvals from the city, said Yasuro Yamaguchi, a project representative for architect and building owner David Gray. Yamaguchi said approvals are expected in about two months. The $7.5 million renovation of the property at 351 S. Broadway will turn the structure into an office building for creative use tenants; completion is expected within two years. The project calls for the addition of a sixth floor and the creation of a ground-floor bar. Crews have already unveiled the original façade, which had been covered for about 60 years. A 12-foot ficus tree growing out of the wall near the roof will be removed as part of the project.
845 S. FIG/SMART & FINAL: The State Bar of California is in the process of building out exteriors for its new headquarters at 845 S. Figueroa St. The State Bar bought the South Park building as it was in the midst of a renovation started by former owner L&R Group. The entity will use the upper four floors for its Southern California operations. The State Bar will move in sometime in the fourth quarter of this year, according to a spokesman. Smart & Final is building out its space for a 25,000-square-foot ground floor supermarket and plans to open in July.
1130 S. HOPE ST.: According to the Department of City Planning, development firm BIMHF, LLC’s proposal for a South Park hotel project was slated to go before the Office of Zoning Administration for a hearing May 15 (after press time). According to plans filed with the department, the project would be a 10-story, 44-room boutique hotel with a bar, lounge, meeting spaces and a pool deck. Creating the new building at 1130 S. Hope St. would mean demolishing nearly half of a 76-room, three-story apartment building while preserving the masonry façade. The developer, which did not return calls for comment, has previously stated that $25 million in financing is lined up, but neither budget nor design details have been released.
ACE HOTEL: Scaffolding is up on the outside of the building and a fall opening is expected for the Ace Hotel, said Lisa Lavora, a spokeswoman for the Oregon-based hotel operator. The project is transforming the 13-floor United Artists Theatre at 933 S. Broadway into a 180-room hotel with a 1,600-seat entertainment space in the theater, a pool, restaurant and bar. The hotel was built in 1927 by United Artists founders D.W. Griffith, Charlie Chaplin, Douglas Fairbanks and Mary Pickford. Before the renovation the property served as the headquarters for televangelist Dr. Gene Scott. At acehotel.com.
ALAMEDA SQUARE: Landowner Evoq Properties is moving forward with a five-year plan for a renovation of its 1.4-million-square-foot, four-building industrial complex at Seventh and Alameda streets. American Apparel occupies two buildings and 700,000 square feet of space at the complex, but the other two structures have long been mostly vacant. Following last year’s signing of a 10-year lease with fashion company VF Corp., Evoq is nearing completion of a seismic retrofit of one of the structures. VF Corp. plans to move the headquarters of two of its brands to the site, filling 80,000 square feet of space, starting this month, said Evoq CEO Martin Caverly. The firm is in negotiations to bring other tenants into the building later this year. When completed, Evoq plans to do similar upgrades to the other vacant building as part of a plan to turn the complex into an active mixed-use center. The timeline depends on when the company can sign additional tenants. Groceries, which has been compared to a young American Apparel because it manufacturers its clothes in L.A., has also signed a deal for 35,000 square feet at Alameda Square. At evoqproperties.com.
CLARK HOTEL: The Chetrit Group, the owner of the Hotel Clark, an 11-story building at 426 S. Hill St. that has long stood as an empty eyesore just north of Pershing Square, is nearing completion on a renovation. The opening of the new boutique hotel is pending a final city approval that is up for consideration this month. If the project gets the green light, an opening could happen within six months, said project representative Elizabeth Peterson. 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.
CLEANTECH MANUFACTURING CENTER: Development firm Trammell Crow is looking to secure entitlements for a $45 million facility that would house manufacturing and industrial tenants on a 20-acre site purchased from the Community Redevelopment Agency in 2012. The firm plans to build three structures totaling 440,000 square feet, said Brad Cox, senior managing director of Trammell Crow. The company expects to secure entitlements this month and begin grading work around June 1. If that happens, completion of the campus would be slated for the second quarter of 2014. The CRA had 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 and has pledged to conduct a $100,000 marketing campaign to attract clean technology manufacturing tenants to the property. The purchase agreement, however, does not require the firm to lease space to clean tech companies. It could also pursue food distributors and garment makers.
CLIFTON’S CAFETERIA: Andrew Meieran, the owner of Clifton’s Brookdale Cafeteria, is in the midst of an extensive renovation that will add three new bars and another restaurant to the historic property at 648 S. Broadway. Meieran said the main construction of the building, including the structural, mechanical and electrical systems, is slated for completion in October. Work on the interior finishes of the venues will take up to nine additional months. Meieran has not set a timeline for opening the venues — they could debut in phases, or all at once. The project involves updating the cafeteria on the ground level without altering its historic character, while adding a bar on the mezzanine. The second floor will become a jazz and blues lounge called The Brookdale, and a speakeasy-style bar will operate in the basement. The third floor is slated to become 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: Plans to turn the vacant Embassy Hotel and Trinity Auditorium in South Park into a 183-room hotel are currently on hold, said Elizabeth Peterson, a representative of building owner the Chetrit Group. The New York-based firm had been pursuing a plan to turn 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 just north of 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 in June for a clean technology business incubator in the Arts District, said Ian Harris, a spokesman for 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. 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. At laincubator.org.
L.A. HOTEL RENOVATION: The $20 million renovation of the former Los Angeles Downtown Marriott at 333 S. Figueroa St. is almost complete, according to a hotel representative. The hotel, currently known as the L.A. Downtown Hotel, is now part of the Hyatt chain. At the end of May it will become the Hyatt Regency Los Angeles Downtown; new signage could go up by July. The renovation includes upgrades to all the guest rooms, along with improvements to the lobby, the meeting and ballroom areas and the restaurants. The work on the guest rooms and meeting space is done and by the end of the month construction will begin on the lobby and on combining the hotel’s two restaurants into one space. The hotel will remain open during the renovation.
LITTLE TOKYO GALLERIA: A 24-lane bowling alley, sports bar and entertainment center called X Lanes is expected to open this month at the Little Tokyo Galleria, said Jay Chun, president of property manager Kaufman Commercial Group. The 50,000-square-foot attraction is on the second floor of the 25-year-old shopping center at 333 S. Alameda St. In addition to the bowling lanes and bar, it has a nine-table billiards room, a pizza restaurant and a 100-game arcade. X Lanes is the anchor of an entertainment hub planned at the mall as part of a renovation by Three Alameda Plaza, the owner of the 250,000-square-foot structure. Plans call for the creation of about eight restaurants and a new look for the gray, fortress-like exterior. Proposals for the exterior are being developed, and there is no timeline for when work would begin on that portion of the project.
MARRIOTT TOWER: The concrete for the 15th floor of the Marriott Tower is in place, and a topping out of the 23-story South Park edifice is expected in late June. The pre-cast exterior elements and windows have been installed up to the eighth floor and framing and drywall work has begun in the hotel room interiors and corridors. The mechanical, electrical, fire sprinkler and plumbing contractors are installing the main building systems ahead of the finishes. The $172 million project from Seattle-based American Life Inc. and Portland’s Williams/Dame & Associates remains on schedule to open in July 2014. The 373,000-square-foot development 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 project is being built by SODO Builders L.A., LLC, with designs by Portland’s GBD Architects.
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. Construction on the upper levels was completed in April and the company moved in this month, Campos said. A retail boutique planned for the street level commercial space is expected in the fall. The boutique will sell Tarina Tarantino goods, as well as an array of items by other designers. The company is also in preliminary talks to bring a bar to the building’s basement. The building is known in part for the artwork painted on its side by British street artist Banksy. At thesparklefactory.blogspot.com.
URBAN RADISH: A market selling fresh produce, meat, seafood, dairy and other items is scheduled to open on May 29, said Yuval Bar-Zemer, who owns the building. The operators of Urban Radish have created a market in an 8,200-square-foot former warehouse across the street from the Biscuit Company and Toy Factory lofts in the southeast portion of the Arts District. The business is 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 urban-radish.com.
WAL-MART NEIGHBORHOOD MARKET: The 65 jobs at the upcoming Wal-Mart Neighborhood Market near Chinatown have been filled and construction continues, with the pharmacy section completed. The store is set to open this year, but no date has been set, according to Rachel Wall, a company representative. The 33,000-square-foot business will be on the ground floor of Grand Plaza, a 302-unit senior housing complex at 701 W. Cesar Chavez Ave. The project has continued to face opposition — including protests and legal action — from union groups and others who oppose Wal-Mart’s hiring practices and who fear the store may harm existing area shops.
BUDOKAN OF LOS ANGELES: The fundraising continues for the Budokan of Los Angeles, the Little Tokyo Service Center’s proposed $22 million recreation center. Project Manager Scott Ito said the LTSC will learn in June whether they will get a $1 million grant from the city for the project. So far, about $7.5 million has been raised, said Ito. Plans call for 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. A groundbreaking is expected by early 2015 with an opening by 2016. At budokanoflosangeles.com.
GOOD SAMARITAN EXPANSION: Officials with Good Samaritan Hospital did not return calls for comment about plans to build a 190,000-square-foot medical office building at Wilshire Boulevard and Witmer Street in City West. Architecture firm Ware Malcomb was hired to oversee the design while Millie and Severson was charged with handling construction for the $80 million effort. Plans call for building a facility with a pharmacy, an outpatient surgical center and five levels of physicians’ offices. Initial plans called for opening the project in the second quarter of 2014, though little construction appears to have been done, and a specific timeline is unknown. The plan also calls for the building to house Good Samaritan’s specialty medical clinics including cardiology, orthopedics and primary care.
HOPE STREET FAMILY CENTER: Although the $15.7 million Hope Street Margolis Family Center is nearly complete, no date has yet been set for a grand opening, according to a project representative. The four-story, 25,500-square-foot project is a partnership between Abode and California Hospital Medical Center. The building at 1600 S. Hope St. will offer services supporting low-income families and will include, among other things, 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 THREE MONTHS
1111 WILSHIRE: Move-ins began in March and about 40 apartments are now occupied at the City West apartment complex 1111 Wilshire, said Josh McDonald, a spokesman for Holland Partner Group, the Vancouver, Wash.-based developer of the $60 million building. The 210-unit, seven-story project includes 7,750 square feet of retail space with studio to three bedroom units. Rents range from $1,570-$4,200. The project, part of a cluster of Wilshire Boulevard apartment buildings that have opened in the past few years, contains an underground parking garage with room for 302 cars.
DODGER STADIUM UPGRADES: Opening Day was April 1, and with the start of the baseball season came approximately $100 million in improvements to the 51-year-old Dodger Stadium. The most obvious to fans are the new hexagonal scoreboards that harken back to the old days of the Chavez Ravine venue; in addition to video improvements, the stadium’s audio system has been redone, and cell phone and Wi-Fi service have been enhanced. Restrooms on upper levels have been renovated and the number of women’s facilities throughout the stadium has been increased. Additional food concession stands were also opened. There are other improvements that fans can’t see, including the creation of modern clubhouses and an upgraded, larger weight and conditioning room. A second weight room for visiting teams has been constructed.
ROSS DEPARTMENT STORE: The Ross Dress for Less at 719 S. Broadway opened on March 9. The 39,000-square-foot business is the first name brand retailer to open on Broadway in decades, and is part of 14th District City Councilman José Huizar’s Bringing Back Broadway initiative. Ross, which occupies the basement and ground floor, fills a space that the Woolworth Department Store had occupied starting in 1920. The Pleasanton, Calif.-based retailer signed a 10-year lease and has the option of expanding into the two upper levels of the three-story structure. Along with internal improvements, the store has a new neon vertical “blade” sign that runs from the roof to just above the first floor.
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