Just last week, we saw some pretty exciting activity happening at the Trinity Auditorium at 9th and Grand Ave. Brand new mattresses were delivered and plywood boards that covered up the doors and windows of the historic structure for years — concealing the construction activity inside — were finally removed allowing pedestrians who walked by to get a first glimpse into a mysterious hotel development that has perplexed the downtown community for almost a decade since the Gansevoort West Hotel debacle. Thanks to our valiant downtown photographer, Hunter Kerhart, we are offered a first peek inside the surprisingly (and thank goodness!) beautiful work being completed inside as the hotel really begins to take shape. And some more digging reveals more juicy details about the forthcoming Empire Hotel Downtown LA.
Category Archives: mixed-use development
After more than two and a half years of construction, Chinatown’s very first market rate housing development called Jia Apartments is now officially open. Developed, owned, and managed by Equity Residential, the new mixed-use project — with a new Starbucks opening in early April and a couple more restaurants in lease negotiations — rises six stories adjacent to the striking Chinatown gateway with its twin golden dragons guarding the Broadway entry. Jia Apartments, which cost $93 million to develop, signals a new economic incline for Chinatown as more money is being invested into this northern district of Downtown LA. Finally, Chinatown joins the rest of downtown’s development wave that has reinvigorated the city center with new life and regional relevancy.
Several independent sources have informed me that some very big and exciting changes are in the preliminary planning stages for Library Tower in Downtown LA. Last year, Library Tower (aka US Bank Tower) was purchased by Singapore-based Overseas Union Enterprise (OUE) for $367.5 million from MPG according to the LA Times. The 73-story office high-rise stands at 1,018 feet tall and still holds the title of tallest skyscraper west of Chicago. However, Library Tower also has one of the highest office vacancies downtown hovering at around 45% (that’s 585,000 square feet of empty space out of 1.3 million total). In an effort to turn the property around and raise the profile of OUE’s new LA acquisition, the Asian investment company had to think outside of the box as the office market has been stubbornly soft and more and more companies are shying away from traditional office space in favor of creative spaces. But wait a minute: everyone knows that the red hot economic engine downtown has involved both residential and hotel developments. Aha!
Watch Onni’s 32-story apartment tower u/c rise halfway up in just 21 seconds!
Downtown resident, Aileen Viray, sends in this cool time-lapse video she put together — starting last November and ending just last week in February — tracking the progress at 9th and Olive where Onni’s new apartment tower is actively under construction. The high-rise has now risen exactly halfway up with work starting on the 17th floor (out of 32 floors total). Construction has been humming at the site since Jan 2013 just over a year ago when groundbreaking commenced. Vancouver-based Onni Group is developing this new mixed-use apartment tower, currently dubbed 888 Olive St., and will eventually bring to market 283-units for rent and add 11,000 square feet of retail space to the corner intersection.
This past Valentine’s Day was another major, major milestone in Downtown LA’s continued march forward toward urban renewal and revitalization. The Metropolis project, which is a 6.3 acre development site (currently an ugly surface parking lot) on the western edge of downtown abutting the 110 freeway, held a ceremonial ground breaking event that finally secured the fate of the long-delayed project.
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.
Watch a short video about ULI FutureBuild hosted in Downtown LA!
Mayor Eric Garcetti is among the leaders who will preview dramatic changes in urban living at FutureBuild 2014. On January 28 ULI Los Angeles presents this high-level, interactive event. Mayor Garcetti will give the keynote speech – a preview of a sustainably designed a future Los Angeles. (Could it be something like the transit-oriented Downtown depicted in Spike Jonze’s movie “Her?”) Other Downtown-focused topics will include: new bikeways; a preview of the new cubicle-free office represented by CBRE’s redesigned headquarters; parklets such as those popping up on Spring Street; expanded access to a restored L.A. River, and more.
Almost a year ago, DTLA Rising first released the exciting renderings of the AC Martin-designed Wilshire Grand Tower to become the West Coast’s new tallest skyscraper located at Wilshire and Figueroa in Downtown LA. When completed in early 2017, it’ll rise 73 floors at 1,100 feet tall (up to the spire) and have both office space and a yet-to-be determined 4-star, 900-room hotel with a sky lobby on the 70th floor. According to a reliable source, the developer/owner of the Wilshire Grand Tower, Korean Air, has narrowed the hotel choices down to two brands and will pick one “very soon.” At one time, Le Meridien was rumored to be the winner. However, other more recent rumors have pointed to a few other brands like Waldorf-Astoria and Grand Hyatt.
So the Hilton rumor at Olympic and Grand in South Park is now officially debunked — well sorta. It’s not that it wasn’t true that Hilton was eyeing the surface parking lot for development, it’s just that Hanover eventually won the battle in the next hottest section of South Park. Apparently, Hanover secured the deal early on and Hilton tried to “interject” but to no avail. Now Texas-based Hanover is planning to develop another 7-story mixed-user called “1000 Grand” at the SE corner of Olympic Blvd and Grand Ave (they’re currently building another mixed-user at Olympic and Hill), which is currently an ugly surface parking lot surrounded by the most cracked, tow up sidewalks you’ve ever seen in a developed nation. Shameful.
Lessons in Urbanism for Downtown LA from Chicago: Brigham Yen Joins LA Architect Thomas Cox’s ULI Panel
I spent last week in one of the country’s best downtowns — Chicago. I was invited by Downtown LA-based architect firm, TCA, to join the founder Thomas Cox on an Urban Land Institute (ULI) conference panel discussing Gen Y (a demographic group I belong to) and our shifting preference toward multifamily housing in urban centers away from the default auto-centric suburbia that the Baby Boomers — our parents — once salivated for. The panel discussion was held at the Langham Hotel in the heart of Downtown Chicago across from the brand new stunning Trump Int’l Hotel and Tower. Lodging nearby at TheWit (highly recommended), I was in the perfect central location to explore all the amazing urban attributes that Downtown Chicago has to offer.
Okay, so we all know now that Downtown LA is in the midst of another impressive building boom with at least a half dozen high-rises under construction including the ginormous 73-floor Wilshire Grand Tower slated for completion in early 2017 (the West Coast’s tallest new tower in the making). Out of the half dozen, another one of those exciting new high-rises under construction is the 22-story apartment tower rising at the southwest corner of 8th and Hope on the northern edge of South Park (right across from the future Macy’s Plaza $160 million makeover). National development company, Wood Partners, is developing the residential high-rise project.
Feast your eyes on the newest renderings of the exciting $160 million makeover of The Bloc (formerly Macy’s Plaza) located in the heart of Downtown LA’s Financial District bounded by bustling 7th Street, Flower and Hope, as well as 8th Street to the south. The 1.8 million square foot mixed-use project will be transformed from the current eye-sore, brick fortress into an updated, modern commercial hub of 400,000 sf of retail, 750,000 sf office, and a $40 million updated 485-room Sheraton Hotel that will contribute significantly to the unprecedented urban revitalization happening in Downtown LA.
A downtown resident sends in a very interesting development happening at two of Barry Shy’s rental properties in the Historic Core: SB Spring and SB Main, two beautiful 12-story historic structures sitting side-by-side along 7th Street. According to a Notice of Public Hearing (announcing a hearing that already happened last month on Sept 26), these two rental buildings are currently in the process of being converted into condominiums through a tentative tract map that will permit the sale of 421 individual live/work condo units as well as 20 commercial condo units on the ground floor. As adaptive-reuse projects, these condos will require zero parking.
Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti will join ULI Los Angeles, a District Council of the Urban Land Institute (ULI), for Transit Oriented L.A., a long-anticipated summit exploring how to dramatically improve transportation corridors. With interactive panel presentations from nationally recognized speakers, Transit Oriented L.A. – or ToLA– will expand the traditional emphasis on individual transit stations to a bold transformation of corridors to achieve a truly transit-oriented Los Angeles.
ToLA is Thursday, October 10, 2013, 7:30 a.m. — 12:30 p.m. at the Japanese American National Museum, 100 N Central Ave, Los Angeles, 90012.
Everyone wants more retail options in Downtown LA. And more retail options we shall get. One of the most exciting redevelopment projects in Downtown LA will be the complete overhaul of Macy’s Plaza, which includes 2.4 million square feet of commercial space comprising a mix of retail, hotel, and office. The new $160 million makeover of Macy’s Plaza will be renamed The Bloc and will be redeveloped by its new owner The Ratkovich Company (they acquired the property back in May 2013 for $241 million).