Category Archives: smart growth

Topaz: New Mixed-User Breaks Ground in Historic Core in Downtown LA

A rendering of Topaz as seen from Main Street with ground floor retail and corner/penthouse units having balconies (Photo: TSK)

A rendering of Topaz as seen from Main Street with ground floor retail and corner/penthouse units having balconies (Photo: TSK)

A rendering of Topaz on the Los Angeles Street side with a large "light curtain" seen in the center cutout of the building (Photo: TSK)

A rendering of Topaz on the Los Angeles Street side with a large “light curtain” seen in the center cutout of the building (Photo: TSK)

With the exception of the Medallion apartments at 4th/Main, there have been no ground-up market rate housing developments built in the Historic Core in Downtown LA. Pretty much all new lofts and condos in the Historic Core that have come on the market over the last decade have been conversion projects taking advantage of the adaptive reuse ordinance. All that’s about to change, however, as numerous high-rise projects have been proposed in the Historic Core that will be the next evolution of Downtown LA’s urban revitalization, filling in all those anti-pedestrian surface parking lots. We won’t have to wait too long for some action because the exciting new chapter for the Historic Core begins now with Topaz, a new mixed-user, that broke ground last Friday near 6th/Main.

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Brigham Yen on FOX 11: Downtown LA High-Rise Boom, Broadway Road Diet, Trader Joe’s Coming?

Yesterday was so much fun. I was invited by FOX 11 to come on their noon show to talk about Downtown LA (my favorite subject of course) and all the newest exciting things happening that are putting our once ignored urban center back on the map. Check out the video above and here are the topics we covered:

  • New high-rises proposed in the Historic Core
  • New developments blocking sidewalks an issue for pedestrians
  • Broadway’s amazing road diet and pedestrian plazas
  • Retail continues with Macy’s Plaza $180 million makeover
  • And Trader Joe’s rumors!

Thank you again so much to FOX 11 News!

Meet 8th+Hope in Downtown LA: South Park’s New Gleaming 22-Story Glass Apartment High-Rise

8th+Hope is a new gleaming glass tower in South Park adding 290 rental units to the downtown market

8th+Hope is a new gleaming glass tower in South Park adding 290 rental units to the downtown market

Almost two years after developer Wood Partners first began construction, the new 8th+Hope apartment tower began accepting resident move-ins earlier this month in August. Designed by Atlanta-based The Preston Partnership, the modern gleaming tower clad throughout in blue-green glass rises 22 stories high and adds another 290 rental units to the market including: 1, 2, and 2½ bedrooms with square footages ranging from 707 to 1,634. Every single unit gets a private balcony. Impressive.

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Renderings Revealed: New Trio of High-Rises Coming to Historic Core in Downtown LA

Hill Tower Lofts seen from the corner of 9th/Hill with the historic May Co garage in the foreground

Hill Tower Lofts: One of three new ground-up towers proposed for the Historic Core are set to break ground as soon as late 2015 (Photo: David Takacs Architecture)

The Historic Core in Downtown LA is where it all started after the adaptive-reuse ordinance was passed in 1999. Developer Tom Gilmore first took advantage of the new ordinance and converted three vacant and dilapidated historic buildings into 230 live/work lofts in what is now known as the Old Bank District at 4th and Main. It’s definitely come a long way since 1999. Over the last 15 years, the Historic Core — with its massive stock of, what else, historic buildings — has become a mixed-use residential hub with increasing numbers of restaurants, bars, and yes, even retail. Now that a good chunk of historic structures has been converted to mostly housing, it’s only logical for the next step in Downtown LA’s evolution toward urban maturity to begin building new ground-up projects as well that will help fill in those surface parking lots that have disrupted the urban fabric with its negative, anti-walking sprawling effects. Now, the exciting continuation of the Historic Core’s revitalization includes three new proposed high-rises set to break ground in the next year: the 38-story SB Omega, the 15-story Broadway Lofts, and the 33-story Hill Tower Lofts.

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New Renderings Reveal Lots of Ped-Friendly Retail Coming to 888 S Hope in Downtown LA

New renderings of the new 888 S Hope tower rising in South Park show lots of retail that will help activate this stretch of Hope Street in Downtown LA (Photo: RTKL)

New renderings of the new 888 S Hope tower rising in South Park show lots of retail that will help activate this stretch of Hope Street in Downtown LA (Photo: RTKL)

It’s been three months since construction first began on the parking structure that will be attached to the new and exciting 888 S Hope, a brand new 33-story residential tower about to break ground later this year in burgeoning South Park. Being developed by LA-based CIM Group, new renderings from RTKL — the architect firm designing the project — show lots of retail space on the ground floor of both the parking structure and the tower itself. As you can see in the renderings (above and below), ample retail space will face Hope Street and wrap around the tower along 9th Street bordering the upcoming boutique Empire Hotel.

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Cafe Crepe of Santa Monica to Open Second Location in Union Station Downtown LA

Cafe Crepe opening later this year will replace the long shuttered Union Bagel space inside Union Station in Downtown LA

Cafe Crepe opening later this year will replace the long shuttered Union Bagel space inside Union Station in Downtown LA

More eateries are coming to Union Station in Downtown LA! A very popular crepe restaurant from Santa Monica located on Third Street Promenade called Cafe Crepe (they’re originally from Canada with locations in Vancouver and Toronto) will be opening later this year taking over a space once occupied by Union Bagel, which shuttered three years ago in 2011. According to a manager at Cafe Crepe I spoke to, the lease was just signed and they are hoping to open before the end of this year. The new eatery will sit directly across from the much revered fine dining Traxx Restaurant, which has been operating since 1997. Cafe Crepe will also have patio seating like Traxx and add to a growing number of new businesses opening inside LA’s landmark train station including T & Y Bakery opening soon.

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Come Walk with Me: Brigham Yen Shows the LA Register What It’s Like to be a Pedestrian in Downtown LA

As Downtown LA continues to revitalize, the urban center of LA is becoming more vibrant with pedestrian activity, a phenomenon many still are unaware of happening to Los Angeles

As Downtown LA continues to revitalize, the urban center of LA is becoming more vibrant with pedestrian activity, a phenomenon many still are unaware of happening to Los Angeles

Just last week, I gave a staff writer, Bill Johnson, at the Los Angeles Register a 4 hour walking tour of Downtown LA. Yes, we actually walked for those who don’t believe it’s possible in “car-centric” Los Angeles. The walk was not only long but interesting all along the way. I love giving these walking tours because it’s always my goal to surprise those who aren’t familiar with downtown not only all the exciting changes happening but also that it’s completely possible to be a pedestrian in Los Angeles when a city has a centralized urban center that’s filled with things to do and see. Simple concept, yet so many were/are skeptical it could ever happen here in sprawly LA. To read the full tour described by Johnson, please check out the LA Register article by clicking here.

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Grove of 100-Year Old Olive Trees Now Planted at New Broad Museum Plaza in Downtown LA

A new grove of fifteen 100-year old Barouni olive trees from Northern California has been shipped down as part of the new Broad plaza on Bunker Hill in Downtown LA

A new grove of fifteen 100-year old Barouni olive trees from Northern California has been shipped down as part of the new Broad plaza on Bunker Hill in Downtown LA

Bunker Hill is shaping up to be one of the most culturally powerful centers in the country. A centralized cultural collection along Grand Ave consisting of the LA Music Center, MOCA, and the Colburn School will finally be joined by The Broad contemporary art museum — a cultural gem in the making now under construction next to the Walt Disney Concert Hall and slated to open sometime in 2015 after a frustrating 15-month delay. When completed next year, The Broad will house billionaire Eli Broad’s contemporary art collection with over 2,000 pieces of art from the likes of Jeff Koons, Roy Lichtenstein, Cindy Sherman, and Ed Ruscha. But beyond the amazing art itself, it’s also just as much about making Downtown LA an enjoyable existence for the pedestrians of Los Angeles. The Broad will be adding an exciting outdoor plaza that will make Grand Ave more pedestrian-oriented, and ultimately, help make Downtown LA a cohesive walkable community — the urban oasis Los Angeles yearns for.

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Striking New Mixed-User Designed by LOHA Architects Coming to Arts District in Downtown LA

(Click to enlarge) A new 5-story mixed-use project with 240 live/work units called "Industrial" is slated to rise near 7th/Alameda in SoArDi (Photo: LOHA Architects)

(Click to enlarge) A new 5-story mixed-use project with 240 live/work units called “Industrial” is slated to rise near 7th/Alameda in SoArDi (Photo: LOHA Architects)

We already know the Arts District is hot on the development radar in Downtown LA. Over in NoArDi (aka North Arts District), several very large projects in the making are transforming the once desolate industrial warehouse district into an active and vibrant residential and artistic community. The massive One Santa Fe project with 438 apartments and a 99-seat community theater along with the MegaToys Lofts with 320 apartments — both under construction — will be adding thousands of new residents in the coming years. And the exciting recent announcement of Hauser Wirth & Schimmel converting an old flour mill on 3rd Street into a 100,000 square foot art center complex — befitting of the district’s namesake — is slated to open in 2016. But NoArDi shouldn’t have all the fun. Now SoArDi (aka South Arts District) will be the next to receive a large mixed-use project near 7th/Alameda just a stone’s throw from fashion juggernaut Alameda Square (headquarters to American Apparel, Splendid/Ella Moss, and Groceries Apparel).

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Tour the Massive One Santa Fe Mixed-User Taking Shape in Downtown LA Arts District

A view of the interior courtyard of the new massive One Santa Fe mixed-user with 438 apartments slated to open later this year

A view of the interior courtyard of the new massive One Santa Fe mixed-user with 438 apartments slated to open later this year

It’s amazing and so very exciting to see the massive Michael Maltzan-designed One Santa Fe project taking shape on the eastern edge of Downtown LA in the burgeoning Arts District, which is rapidly becoming one of the hottest neighborhoods in all of Los Angeles with new trendy shops like Warby Parker and Blacktop Coffee as well as EightyTwo barcade opening recently down the street. One Santa Fe — sandwiched between SCI-ARC and the Metro rail yard — will be a huge game changer for the Arts District adding an additional 438 apartment units for rent (potentially increasing the downtown population by another 650 residents) and adding lots of new businesses and community amenities (like a 99-seat theater) that will help inject more pedestrian activity into the immediate area, including an exciting new grocery store called GROW that’s planning to open later this year within the One Santa Fe courtyard.

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New “LA Plaza” Mixed-User with Exciting Paseo Coming to El Pueblo in Downtown LA

A new mixed-use project being spearheaded by the LA Plaza foundation in El Pueblo is being planned for two parking lots just west of Olvera Street with a pedestrian paseo as the highlight of the project (Photo: LA Plaza de Cultura y Artes)

(Click to enlarge) A new mixed-use project being spearheaded by the LA Plaza foundation in El Pueblo is being planned for two parking lots just west of Olvera Street with a pedestrian paseo as the highlight of the project (Photo: LA Plaza de Cultura y Artes)

A very, very exciting mixed-use project is in the early planning stages over in El Pueblo just north of the 101 freeway and south of Chinatown, which is the historic birthplace of Downtown LA, and to a greater extent, the birthplace of Los Angeles itself. In fact, the oldest residence still standing in Los Angeles, Avila Adobe built in 1818, remains one of Downtown LA’s main visitor attractions located on historic Olvera Street within El Pueblo. Now, exciting plans are taking shape to further enhance and strengthen El Pueblo allowing for both visitors and Angelenos alike to embrace and appreciate the historic value of the district. A non-profit foundation based in El Pueblo called LA Plaza de Cultura y Artes is currently in the process of selecting a developer to build two mixed-use projects, named “LA Plaza Cultura Village,” on two county-owned parking lots just west of the foundation’s headquarters on Main Street that will connect El Pueblo to its surrounding communities including Chinatown and Union Station.

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888 South Hope: CIM Group’s New 33-Story Project Preparing for Ground Breaking in Downtown LA

A new 33-story tower by CIM Group is set to rise at the corner of 9th/Hope in South Park called "888 South Hope"

A new 33-story tower by CIM Group is set to rise at the corner of 9th/Hope in South Park called “888 South Hope”

South Park in Downtown LA just keeps getting hotter and hotter! Recently announced are a slew of new proposed shiny high-rises set to break ground in the next year or so that will give our growing skyline a major shot in the arm — how exciting! Now let’s add another tower to the mix, this time at the northeast corner of 9th and Hope also in South Park (directly adjacent to the u/c boutique “Empire Hotel“). The new 33-story residential tower — to be called “888 South Hope” — will be developed by CIM Group, which just recently purchased Two Cal Plaza on Bunker Hill and also developed the Market-Gas Company Lofts across the street.

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Stephen Kane Running for DLANC: “Safer Streets, Redoing Pershing Square, More Transit” in Downtown LA

Native Angeleno Stephen Kane is hoping to contribute his love and passion for Downtown LA by running for Downtown LA Neighborhood Council (Photo: Stephen Kane)

Native Angeleno Stephen Kane is hoping to contribute his love and passion for Downtown LA by running for Downtown LA Neighborhood Council (Photo: Stephen Kane)

By Stephen Kane

It’s no longer a secret: DTLA is on the verge of becoming a great urban core once again. Promise and opportunity abound in this rapidly growing community, but so do the challenges that we must address in order to keep downtown on the right path and direction. As we continue to grow and evolve, we will increasingly wrestle with who we are and what we aspire to be.

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EightyTwo (82) Arcade Bar Brings Classic Gaming to the Arts District in Downtown LA

EightyTwo is a new arcade bar that grand opened this week in the Arts District in Downtown LA

EightyTwo is a new arcade bar that grand opened this week in the Arts District in Downtown LA

Did you grow up in the age of classic gaming (like me) in the 80s and 90s when going to the arcade was an absolute integral part of life? Remember the good ol’ days of lining up quarters on the arcade console waiting eagerly for your turn to challenge the “unbeatable” incumbent player on games like Street Fighter II and Mortal Kombat? For me, it was all about Chun Li: “Yatta!” Walking into EightyTwo, now open in the Arts District in Downtown LA, is like taking a trip back in time when arcade game consoles were ubiquitous (7-Elevens used to be the hang out spot after school right?).

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Applause: South Park Parking Structure Adding 11,000+ SF New Retail Space in Downtown LA

(Click to enlarge) Rendering of new eateries (with outdoor patio dining) along Hope Street after the ground level parking is converted to retail space (Photo: PSP Investment Group)

(Click to enlarge) Rendering of new eateries (with outdoor patio dining) along Hope Street after the ground level parking is converted to retail space (Photo: PSP Investment Group)

Some very exciting news coming out of South Park that will help enliven the streets just a little bit more. Just two blocks from the Staples Center, an existing parking structure at 11th and Hope that currently houses two restaurants on the ground floor — Il Mare and Arashi Sushi — will be expanding its commercial retail space for lease by another 11,200 square feet. The 5-story parking structure with 598 spaces will be converting the ground level parking area along Hope Street into retail and restaurant space. Essentially, the entire perimeter of the parking structure will be wrapped with commercial spaces with a focus on adding new eateries. You lose a little bit of parking to benefit the growing community with neighborhood serving businesses that make living in Downtown LA enjoyable and convenient. I call that a win-win.

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