chinatown, downtown los angeles

Opening 2013: Jia Apartments, LA Chinatown’s New Market-Rate Housing Tops Out

The new Jia Apartments is Chinatown's first market-rate housing complex opening later this year

The new Jia Apartments is Chinatown’s first market-rate housing complex opening later this year

Currently under construction and formerly known as the “Chinatown Gateway” (a name derived from its location adjacent to the double dragon gateway on Broadway and Cesar Chavez), the new name for Chinatown’s first market-rate housing complex is now called “Jia Apartments,” which means “home” in Chinese. The 280-unit mixed-use development, being developed by Equity Residential and designed by Downtown LA-based Thomas Cox Architects (TCA), topped out earlier this week at six floors with a projected opening date later this year.

When completed, the Jia Apartments will set an auspicious new direction for Chinatown, which has not seen the kind of redevelopment activity experienced elsewhere in Downtown LA. However, with 17,000 square feet of retail space (mostly along Broadway) and hundreds of new residents (in studios, one, and two-bedroom units), Jia could play a major role injecting life back into Chinatown even after dark when the many souvenir shops close down. I would like to see Chinatown follow the same successful path as Little Tokyo — now active day and night with interesting shops and restaurants — by attracting new investments, especially if you consider the amount of potential Chinese and Chinese American businesses from the San Gabriel Valley that could “come back” and transform Chinatown with activity 24-7. Perhaps we could eventually see a 99 Ranch Market return to Chinatown one day?

And up until now, the twin golden dragons that guard the archway to LA’s Chinatown (erected in 2001) seemed sadly incomplete as only one side of the gateway actually had a building next to it (the 16-story Cathay Manor senior housing tower). Now with Jia Apartments rising across the street on a site that used to be a desolate asphalt surface parking lot, the gateway itself also feels much more complete and adds toward Chinatown’s urban maturity.

It will be exciting to find out over the next few months what new businesses will be coming into Jia’s retail spaces. Rumor has it that Starbucks is looking to take the corner space along Cesar Chavez, which had already been designated for a cafe in the building’s renderings.

The twin dragon gateway now seems complete with two buildings flanking both sides

The twin dragon gateway now seems complete with two buildings flanking both sides

Jia Apartments is slated to open later this year

Jia Apartments is slated to open later this year

Jia Apartments is a mid-rise 6 story structure with 280 market rate units, the first of its kind in Chinatown

Jia Apartments is a mid-rise 6-story structure with 280 market rate units, the first of its kind in Chinatown

Some units will have balconies overlooking Broadway

Some units will have balconies overlooking Broadway

Jia is built directly adjacent to the twin golden dragon gateway and its message of harmony and good luck

Jia is built directly adjacent to the twin golden dragon gateway and its message of harmony and good luck

Jia is directly across the street from the 16-story Cathay Manor senior housing tower built in 1983

Jia is directly across the street from the 16-story Cathay Manor senior housing tower built in 1983

Senior residents at Cathay Manor will now have new residents directly across the street, which creates a dynamic urban neighborhood here in Chinatown

Senior residents at Cathay Manor will now have new residents directly across the street (instead of an empty parking lot), which helps create a dynamic urban neighborhood here in Chinatown

A rendering of what Jia Apartments will look like when completed later this year (Photo: TCA)

A rendering of what Jia Apartments will look like when completed later this year (Photo: TCA)

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26 Comments

  1. John G. says

    This is great steady progress for downtown Los Angeles. Although I wish this project was taller and denser, it is a start in the right direction. The upcoming Wal-Mart up the street will also be a complementary addition to the area’s walkability and economic vibrancy.

    • han solo says

      Wal-Mart is a horrible leech of a corp and anyone that shops there is supporting one of the worst American enterprises.

      • Lawrence says

        I’m not a fan of Wal-Mart by any stretch of the imagination, but in many ways it’s no different than many other large corporate chains out there. Many resent Wal Mart based on the idea that it destroys small businesses (though there are no businesses really near the future Chinatown store so to speak and it’s a grocery store as opposed to a full service Wal Mart), but are companies like Target etc. much different? and I say this as someone who actually shops at Target. Wal Mart has become a symbol of everything wrong with corporate American chains, but many other large format stores in this country are guilty of some (not all) of the same offenses. Do they avoid scrutiny because they have better branding and a cool factor to them that Wal Mart doesn’t? Not saying anyone is right or wrong here just wondering about this.

        • brudy says

          Also not trying to argue but Wal-mart has an established record of all kinds of abuses including forced overtime with no pay, gender equality pay, terrible benefits, just off the top of my head. There are also bribery allegations in Mexico and how Walmart uses its economy of scale to destroy local business that simply can’t compete. They’re also super conservative, religious and sell guns. Despite all this crap, I still think they should be allowed to open – not that I’d ever step foot in one.

        • Sammy says

          I’m also not trying to get into a fairly overheated Walmart debate. But I do want to point out that not all large corps are the same.

          You mentioned you shop at Target. Target donates 5% of its profits to local communities, they should get a pat on the back for that.

    • OMG….I ve been waiting to move into Jia….there have been setbacks on their end. So now everything is ready to do my walk thru and GROSS…I hear a WALMART is going to be there. That is enuf to have me reconsider………..

  2. sebastian says

    I still don’t understand why most buildings top out at 6 stories, is there a law out there regarding building more then six stories?

    • I believe there is a 75-foot height limit for “Type III” construction which, as I understand it, is basically a wood structure sitting on a small concrete podium. Any taller than that, and the building would exceed the range of LAFD’s ladder trucks and would have to be classified as a high rise, which raises the cost of construction.

      It would seem that many developers are willing to invest in central LA, but not as extensively as many of us would hope. Oh well. Still better than a parking lot.

      • The building code allows up to 5 stories of type III construction. You can have 1 story of type I concrete & steel building above grade with 5 stories of wood on top. To build higher, you’d have to build in reinforced concrete which can cost almost double compared wood construction. There are typically three height restrctions – zoning code, building code, and fire code. 75′ max is the fire code for LA before high rise requirements for helipad and upgraded fire life safety kicks in.

  3. John G. says

    Good point but it could be several things other than zoning restrictions. Market demand, project financing, and other risk factors all come into play in deciding what gets built or not. I do find it sad that even 1983 they built a taller building across the street (Cathay Manor). Now we have a so-called “mid-rise” being built which sort of gives a lop-sided feeling in this area, although its construction does bring closure, identity, and the feeling of a “gate” by those two dragon ornaments. As a strong cornerpiece of Chinatown (afterall, it’s the entrance), this project should have definitely been more dense to not only capture future growth, but establish the baseline in setting precedence for Chinatown’s urban renewal.

  4. ROger says

    Can’t wait until Walmart opens. The wife and I have to waste gas going down to Pico Rivera once a month when we stock up. Being able to shop nearby will certainly cut down on my carbon footprint!

  5. All things considered, it is indeed nice to see something other than senior housing being built in Chinatown. Now it’s (finally) time for the city to fix that parking lot blight on the south side of Cesar Chavez. It creates a bleak, unsafe dead area that keeps pedestrians from comfortably walking between Olvera St and Chinatown and vice versa.

  6. Jackie says

    Any one know when they will be showing or offering spaces?

  7. Andrew W. says

    Great news for Chinatown! It’s especially good to know that another desolate, vibrancy-killing parking lot bites the dust.

    I’d imagine with the right mix of retail/restaurants (maybe a Phoenix Desserts and Bakery from the SGV or a Tea Station) it’ll give this corner a much needed boost in pedestrian traffic. Along with the Walmart Neighborhood Market opening up the street, you can veritably feel the momentum finally building in the right direction regarding the revitalization efforts of Chinatown. Hopefully, with the increased activity, the much anticipated Blossom Plaza( next to the BEAUTIFUL Chinatown Gold Line Station ), will finally get built after nearly a decade of setbacks.

    I’d also love to see the purveyors of the DTLA STREET CAR consider building a future extension up Broadway to help with the walkability and synergy of Chinatown and Olvera Street ( two of the City of ANGEL’S unique historic , urban gems ).

    • An 85 degrees location would kill it here and bring in a lot of foot traffic. I would also love to see a Ranch 99 market, and it should be one of their flagship stores.

  8. Visitor to LA says

    > Now it’s (finally) time for the city
    > to fix that parking lot blight on the
    > south side of Cesar Chavez.

    There’s also a huge expanse of land paved over for auto parking on the west side of Hill Street, one block to the west of the Jia apartments, that is almost like a clone of the former site of the new apartment building. I don’t believe the city has any control of such properties, but whomever owns them does create gaping holes in the urban fabric.

    • I think the parking lot south of Cesar Chavez between Spring & Main is owned by the city. I’d love to see it turned into a mixed-use development with non-surface parking. Some mid-market, ground-floor retail is sorely needed here and may do quite well, considering the Cesar Chavez frontage is a major bus stop with a good amount of pedestrian traffic. If they play their cards right, a development on this parcel could usher Olvera St visitors/patrons to the intersection of Spring & Cesar Chavez, which will give them a clear shot to the new Jia development and the dragon gateway.

  9. sebastian says

    I think it would be cool if they add on to the Little Italy they want to bring back, the Hall of Records museum is there already. It can be a mixed use with a cobblestone road cutting through, with Italian restaurants, markets, Gelato, and put a neon sign on top of it all called Little Italy, like the Americana has in Glendale.

    • Anon says

      These new apartments will definitely breathe life into Chinatown.

      I also like your idea for Little Italy.

      Made me think of Little Joe’s restaurant actually.

      Anyone remember them? :)

  10. Conor says

    Does anyone know if you can buy these condos? Or are they for lease only and owned by a single developer? Also, there is no need for a Wal-Mart. I’d much prefer a 99 Ranch – like the author mentioned.

  11. Beverly says

    Does anyone know how I can apply to live at the jia apartments?

    • Hi Beverly-

      I’m an employee of Equity and love that you’re interested in the community! It is in the final stages of development, but you can contact our property team at jia@eqr.com for more information. We will also have information live on our website at http://www.equityapartments.com in the next month or so.

      Thanks!

  12. Hi all-

    I’m an employee of Equity and love all of the interest in the community! It is in the final stages of development, but you can contact our property team at jia@eqr.com for more information. We will also have information live on our website in the next month or so. For now, you can read more about Jia here: http://blog.equityapartments.com/jia-chinatown-los-angeles-apartments/

    You can see our other Downtown Los Angeles apartments here: http://www.equityapartments.com/california/los-angeles-apartments/downtown-los-angeles-apartments.aspx

    Thanks!

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