New Sexy Mixed-Use Joe’s Parking Structure Coming to 8th/Francisco in Downtown LA

A new parking structure designed by Downtown LA-based architect firm LeanArch has broken ground across the street from the Metropolis site in South Park, Downtown LA (Photo: LeanArch)

A new parking structure designed by Downtown LA-based architect firm LeanArch has broken ground at 8th/Francisco across the street from the Metropolis site in South Park, Downtown LA (Photo: LeanArch)

Downtown LA is getting a new, dare I say, sexy parking structure in north South Park at 8th and Francisco. I usually wouldn’t consider a new parking structure newsworthy, but this project is being designed with a lot more thought and concern for aesthetics, so I thought it should be highlighted as an example for other parking structures to follow. Designed by Downtown LA-based architect firm, LeanArch, the parking structure is being developed by landowner and giant parking operator Joe’s Auto Parks as a mixed-use project consisting of not only parking but with office and retail components as well according to a development executive I spoke to at the company.

When completed in early 2015, the six story parking structure occupying about an acre of land will add 560 public parking spaces to a burgeoning area, and will also become the new headquarters for L&R Group of Companies (which is Joe’s Auto Parks parent company). L&R will be relocating from 550 S Hope in the Financial District into a corner 22,000 square foot office space constructed on the top sixth floor of the parking structure with windows facing 8th and Francisco streets. The rest of the structure will be wrapped in vertical metallic panels over a concrete frame giving the structure a contemporary look akin to the also-sexy brand new Parking Structure 6 in Santa Monica.

In addition, retail space will be incorporated into the ground floor helping to activate the sidewalks along both 8th and Francisco with pedestrian activity. When L&R set out a year ago to build their new parking structure/headquarters, it was still uncertain whether or not the massive four-tower Metropolis development — located across Francisco St — would actually happen. The current renderings provided by LeanArch don’t show retail space within the project, but company officials at L&R have decided to modify the plans to include retail space now that the Metropolis’ ground breaking is imminent. With so much commercial and residential activity anticipated around this area in the near future, it made perfect sense to add retail into the parking structure to contribute to that energy.

Parking structures are a necessity in even transit-rich downtown cores because, well, a lot of people still end up driving into the city. Go to even pedestrian-oriented Chicago or San Francisco, and you’ll still see parking structures dotting the landscape. (Check out some examples in Chicago.) But the difference between most parking structures in these other cities and Los Angeles is how they look. Many parking structures in LA are just plain bland, if not ugly. For a city as obsessed with cars as we are, you would think we would have designed some of the most compelling parking structures in the world to house all our wonderful cars in (like the Collins Park Garage in Miami designed by Zaha Hadid).

I think the new Joe’s parking structure definitely raises the bar on design. It should be a model for other future parking structures in Downtown LA and even existing ones if we can remodel them to look nicer. If we’re going to have parking structures, they should contribute more to the community than just a place to hold our cars in a boring shell. Adding retail and even an office component in this case will help activate our sidewalks, and just as important, being well-designed will send a message that Angelenos do care about making our downtown aesthetically more pleasing — even if it is just a parking structure.

For a few more examples of other sexy parking structures, click here.

Blue fencing went up early February as construction began on a new Joe's parking structure at 8th/Francisco

Blue fencing went up early February as construction began on a new Joe’s parking structure at 8th/Francisco

Another view looking west along 8th Street

Another view looking west along 8th Street

Completion for the new parking structure is slated for late 2014/early 2015

Completion for the new parking structure is slated for late 2014/early 2015

As more large-scale developments are added to these desolate blocks west of Figueroa, this very quiet stretch of 8th Street will eventually become much more vibrant with pedestrian activity, and as a result, will finally feel connected to the rest of Downtown LA

As more large-scale developments are added to these desolate blocks west of Figueroa, this very quiet stretch of 8th Street will eventually become much more vibrant with pedestrian activity, and as a result, will finally feel connected to the rest of Downtown LA

18 Responses to New Sexy Mixed-Use Joe’s Parking Structure Coming to 8th/Francisco in Downtown LA

  1. Not sure if I would call it sexy. Need more detail rendering.

  2. A word to the wise. Don’t cheerlead for a parking structure until it’s actually finished. This could easily turn out to be a total disaster visually.

  3. Ground floor retail on urban parking garages should be written into the new zoning code that the city of LA is working on.

  4. Are you serious? For a sexy parking garage, see Miami Beach (1111 Lincoln).

  5. James is an idiot.

  6. I’m not sure if the structure’s curtain wall (or the cover that will be attached to the front side of the parking levels) will look all that good if much of the frame, instead of being filled in with glass or metal panels, remains blank. It may end up looking unfinished. However, it probably won’t be any visually weaker than the exposed parking levels of the Watermark building at 9th and Flower.

    For most retailers to try to make a go of it in such locations, where both visibility and foot traffic are limited, will be a tough sell. However, maybe shops like a marijuana dispensary can thrive in off-the-beaten-path niches of downtown. But even that’s not a sure thing.

  7. The parking structure should be taller, at least 10 – 15 floors.

  8. It will be great to see some of these surface lots get converted into better uses. Even if it’s not exciting as a commercial/mixed-use/residential project, an abundance of profitable private multi-story parking should allow for more and better residential and retail development (and hopefully more parking-minimum exempt projects).

  9. Look no further than the the Police Headquarters parking structure on Main St to see what a ‘sexy’ parking garage looks like. The ground floor retail has been empty since day one.

  10. This is still a parking structure with very little density for other uses. For this location and its height/density, this project should have been built further out of the downtown core.

  11. Look at the parking garages in dt Seattle on 6th & 7th between Pike and Pine Sts. First off they don’t look like parking garages. 2nd, the ground levels are filled with restaurants, movie theaters and retail. This is the way it should be done. Not a stand alone hideous parking structure. No matter how its dressed up it still says clunky, hideous parking structure.

  12. I think the problems with commercial units in the LAPD structure (and the LAPD HQ restaurant) have more to do with a city agency not really being setup to act as a commercial landlord as with the fact that it’s a parking structure. There are a number of parking structures in the historic core with active ground-floor retail. Some of them you might not realize are parking lots unless you’re looking carefully. It would be nice if this were taller given its location, but it’s better than a surface lot and it shows that Joe’s is willing to develop these spaces when the demand arises.

  13. SEXY? …Far from.

  14. Pingback: Where to Park It - Curbed LA

  15. have to agree…nice but not sexy.

  16. Sure gives me a stiffy!

  17. Maybe they can cover the stairwell with an LED screen, that might make it look more appealing.

  18. This parking structure is a joke. There will be no retail on the ground level. The company LnR Group Joes Parking are a bunch of Jewish thieves. Its a bait and switch game with the city. Not to mention how they are screwing Turner the contractor their due fees. They’ll lose their shirts on this one.

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