A rendering of 1000 Grand at the SE corner of Olympic/Grand in Downtown LA (Photo: TCA)
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.
Downtown LA snags two new office leases including the SEC and the new West Coast anchor office for engineering consulting firm Buro Happold
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.
Downtown Chicago is bustling and filled with a variety of commercial activities and is a great model for Downtown LA to follow
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.
Corner of 8th and Hope: A new 22-story high-rise apartment tower is now about half way done with a completion slated for 2014
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.
A new vantage point revealed in this rendering of the Hope Street side with an updated Sheraton Hotel entrance
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 joinULI 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 theJapanese American National Museum, 100 N Central Ave, Los Angeles, 90012.
A rendering of Pershing Square reimagined as open and transparent (Photo: Gensler / Nephew)
Okay, it’s a complete coincidence that after posting yesterday about redeveloping/redesigning Pershing Square (using SF Union Square as a model) that Councilman Jose Huizar announced this morning at the Gensler office downtown that a new 21-member task force was put together to help re-envision and re-imagine the future of Pershing Square. Perhaps the stars are finally aligning? Some of the members (listed below) are property owners surrounding Pershing Square who obviously would like to see the immediate surroundings improved. Remember: A beautiful and successfully activated Pershing Square of the future will benefit the nearby building stock tremendously, raising property values. A conceptual video was also released by Gensler highlighting some ideas for Pershing Square that you can watch here.
The parallels between San Francisco’s Union Square and Los Angeles’ Pershing Square are pretty astounding. On the surface it’s hard to believe, but they are essentially twins living two separate lives 337 miles apart but following almost identical historical paths, faced with similar challenges, and playing similar roles in their respective city centers. SF’s Union Square, however, is about two decades ahead of LA’s Pershing Square. As a result, visiting Union Square is really like looking into a crystal ball and gazing into what the future of Pershing Square could become, which is a much better and prettier version of its current ugly self. Unlocking the immense potential surrounding Pershing Square will depend heavily on the right kind of redevelopment and redesign efforts focused on the square itself. In other words, making Pershing Square into a beautiful public space where everyone wants to be will naturally raise the value of all buildings surrounding the square nearby, and as a result, transform the area into a viable and vibrant commercial district akin to Union Square.
Colin Marshall walks through downtown Los Angeles with Brigham Yen, Realtor and author of the urban renaissance blog DTLA Rising. They discuss the sort of neighborhood that can rise from nothing, and whether Los Angeles’ downtown has come back from a deeper state of nothingness than other downtowns; the “bones” of a city’s center, and how Los Angeles’ have remained sound through all its problems; the late introduction of public space here; his car-centric youth in the San Gabriel Valley suburbs, and how going to San Francisco for school changed everything; the enduring “obesity” of Los Angeles’ streets, even as it has become the fastest-changing city in America; in what order transit, restaurants, bars, shopping, and housing needed to return downtown; how streets become “activated” with human energy; Broadway’s prospects for becoming “one of the coolest streets in America”; the healthy urban balance of a Prada by a Fallas-Paredes; how he began writing about cities by writing about Pasadena, and how interaction between the blogging half of his career and the real-estate half has deepened ever since; how he responds to longtime Angeleno’s complaints about “brainwashed Millennials” and their fallen expectations; the special importance of an undisputed urban center amid a sea of suburbia; the laid-back sensibility he hopes Los Angeles can retain during its transformation; and what dream people can see actively (and successfully) pursued if they visit downtown Los Angeles themselves.
Designed by Kevin Tsai Architecture, Medallion 2.0 would add up to 400 new rental units, a theater, more retail space, over half an acre of green space. The project is slated to break ground in late 2015 at 3rd and Main St (Photo: Kevin Tsai Architecture)
A lot of exciting developments have been happening at the Medallion Apartments recently in the Old Bank District at 4th and Main. The mixed-use complex with 96 apartments for rent — taking up the entire half block of 4th Street from Main to Los Angeles St — added a brand new vegan restaurant called Dr J’s Vibrant Cafe with Sushi Zo opening later this year. In addition, six more indie restaurants, an indoor farmers’ market, and a slew of artisanal eatery shops (under the expert guidance of John Edwards of Raw Inspiration) are slated to open on the lower level next year that will literally transform the Medallion into a foodie hub. But all that Medallion fun doesn’t end there because something even larger looms on the horizon code named “Medallion 2.0.”
In case you missed it yesterday! Los Angeles NBC 4 news ran a great story on the strong recovering housing market in Downtown LA and specifically how well the Ritz-Carlton luxury condos in South Park are selling, now 85 percent sold out (there are 224 units). I am very proud that the real estate firm that I belong to, The Agency, has the exclusive listing on the developer-owned units. I also spoke to the reporter, Angie Crouch, who was awesome for referencing DTLA Rising in the broadcast story!
Rendering of a new 7-story mixed-use project called Urban Village South Park is slated to break ground in Sept/Oct 2013, rising near Olympic and Olive (Photo: Urban Village)
Last May, rumors were circulating that Hilton was in escrow to purchase a surface parking lot at Olympic and Grand adjacent to the former Crash Mansion nightclub (which is getting torn down). Several new sources have stepped up since then confirming once again that Hilton is, indeed, still interested in the site. However, the urban-infill fun doesn’t stop there. Now, a new mixed-use project adjacent to the potential future Hilton tower, called “Urban Village | South Park,” is slated for a Sep/Oct 2013 groundbreaking near Olympic and Olive according to Brett Shaves and Joshua Host, the founders of Urban Village who will be developing the ground-up project. Entitlements for the project were secured on May 20, 2013.
Downtown LA’s newest urban park, Spring Street Park, officially opened today at 10AM with a community gathering
Today was another great step forward in Downtown LA’s evolution in becoming a mature urban center that’s balanced not only with more needed density but open space as well — two important ingredients needed in urban planning that encourage a pedestrian lifestyle. The 0.7 acre Spring Street Park, nestled in between two historic condo high-rises — The Rowan and El Dorado — between 4th and 5th Street, officially opened at 10 am with a community gathering and inauguration that included downtown residents, community stakeholders, and LA Mayor Villaraigosa along with Council Members Huizar and Perry. The mood was cheerful and celebratory as today’s park, designed by Lehrer Architects, opening marked an important milestone for the Historic Core that further establishes the district as a bona fide urban residential community.
Major upgrades are coming to Macy’s Plaza after being acquired by The Ratkovich Company
One of the biggest eye sores (and embarrassments) in all of Downtown Los Angeles — the 1970s “shopping fortress” known as Macy’s Plaza — has a very bright future ahead of it. One of LA’s most respected developers, The Ratkovich Company, has successfully acquired the dated complex from Jamison Services, Inc for $241 million according to the LA Times. The purchase, which closed escrow last week, includes not only the retail portion (Macy’s, Express, Bath and Body Works, LA Fitness, etc.) but also the 23-story, 485-room Sheraton hotel and the 33-story 700 S Flower office tower totaling 2.4 million square feet. Ratkovich plans to spend $160 million to upgrade the entire complex with some very exciting changes that will dramatically alter the urban landscape of the Financial District.
This snapshot I took in Chelsea of a typical scene in New York shows how wonderful a city can be when it is pedestrian oriented
Every time I visit New York, I’m like a kid in a candy store. Why? I’m an urbanist at heart and New York is brimming with urbanism. No, it’s exploding with urbanism! I love walking and being a pedestrian free to roam the city, and whenever I’m here in New York (usually for a week at a time), I feel liberated and empowered as I dart through the energetic streets, slide my MetroCard on my way down into the ubiquitous subway stations, and jaywalk whenever and wherever I please. The way New York and other East Coast cities are built, compact and mixed-use, encourage a thriving pedestrian culture. What are some key ideas that we can bring back from a city like New York that can continue to help Los Angeles (and specifically Downtown LA) develop that wonderful pedestrian urban lifestyle and lessen our dependence (read: handicap) on automobiles?