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.
Category Archives: pedestrian oriented
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.
Last week, I got an awesome tour of Union Station from Metro’s Deputy Executive Officer of Countywide Planning, Jenna Hornstock. I learned about some very exciting changes coming to the busiest rail station west of the Mississippi. Basically, you have two different timelines for planned improvement projects: short term and long term changes. Both are very exciting because it means Union Station is going to get better and better and play a much more prominent and vital role in our region’s growing mass transit network.
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.
With 292 locations in five states, one of the most popular burger joints in the country, In-N-Out Burger, is also on the top of Downtown LA’s wish list (along with the elusive Trader Joe’s). Vegetarians aside, who doesn’t crave a juicy double-double with fresh cut fries on the side every now and then? Well, sadly, the burger chain that was born in the suburbs of LA (in Baldwin Park in 1948) may never outgrow its suburban roots to open in the heart of Los Angeles. When asked if In-N-Out would consider opening an urban location in Downtown LA, the answer was an adamant “No.”
In-N-Out Burger would prefer to stick to the suburbs.
Always good to see more new businesses opening at Union Station. T & Y Bakery is coming to the west coast’s busiest rail hub by this spring. The Russian-style bakery with currently two locations — one at Farmers Market at 3rd/Fairfax and another in West Hollywood — is planning to build-out a brand new 258 square foot food stall next to Ben & Jerry’s and across from the Amtrak ticketing counter and exciting brand new Amtrak Metro Lounge. T & Y, which stands for “Tbilisi & Yerevan” (the capital cities of Georgia and Armenia respectively), will bring to Union Station the same yummy selection of pastries (like baklavas) and paninis that they’re known for in their other locations.
How crazy is it that a city as worldly famous as Los Angeles hasn’t had a new year’s eve celebration where Angelenos from far and wide could congregate outside on public space together — until now? Better late than never. This past new year’s eve things were very different as 25,000 revelers packed into Grand Park (and spill over onto the Music Center steps) to countdown to 2014. The amount of people who took metro to the event was staggering as trains brought hordes of Angelenos back into the city to celebrate in the symbolic heart of Los Angeles — in Grand Park in front of our towering city hall where fanciful digital artwork was projected onto for all to see including the final exciting countdown (10…9…8…!). Finally, there was a celebratory venue with enough energy to be felt throughout the city instead of the chirping crickets most suburban Angelenos were accustomed to beforehand. Next year, expect the event to be even bigger.
There is nothing to be proud of when it comes to LA’s backward car culture. Endless ugly strip malls along with empty sidewalks and congested freeways have defined LA in pop culture — no wonder we were the butt of jokes. But we all know that things are changing for the better now as LA is in the midst of an exciting urban renaissance transforming Downtown LA into a bustling urban center filled with, believe it or not, pedestrians walking! I like to describe it as “LA getting its mojo back.” However, instead of continuing to encourage more pedestrians to walk in a land infamous for car loving addicts, the LAPD has been cracking down on (read: penalizing) pedestrians who jaywalk and going so far as to set up sting operations at the busiest intersections (i.e., 7th and Figueroa) to slap unsuspecting pedestrians with up to $250 tickets. That’s exactly why I am very glad to see the conversation continue about “jaywalking in Downtown LA,” this time in the NY Times in an article that came out today titled: “In a Car-Culture Clash, It’s Los Angeles Police vs. Pedestrians.” (Click here to read the NY Times article.)
Click to listen: Police Cracking Down on Jaywalking in Downtown LA
In case you’ve been under a rock over the past few days, “jaywalking” has been a controversial headline in the LA media circuit. And it’s something I’ve been an outspoken critic about (for a long time) with the LAPD and their antiquated enforcement policy against jaywalking in Downtown LA, an urban oasis in Los Angeles and what I like to think of as the largest island of pedestrianism in an ocean of car-loving suburbia.
What: Fun and delicious Truck-It-Fest gourmet food truck dinner event
When: Thursday, November 21, 2013 from 6 to 10 pm (Every 3rd Thursday)
Where: APEX at 9th/Figueroa, Downtown LA
Downtown LA scores two new office leases including the federal Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) and engineering consulting firm Buro Happold. That’s good news as we all know the more companies and jobs that move to Downtown LA, the stronger the Downtown LA economy will be overall. For instance, downtown office workers play a significant economic part when they spend their earned dollars locally at restaurants and retail stores, or even better, decide to rent/buy real estate downtown becoming actual residents and fulfilling the “live, work, and play” motto.
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.
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.
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.