Recent News

Gauntlet Thrown to City’s New Chief Design Officer

Los Angele Business Journal March 23, 2018

As L.A. attempts to build its way out of its housing affordability and homeless crisis, it matters more now than ever how a new project’s design speaks to a neighborhood. The appointment of renowned LA Times architecture critic Christopher Hawthorne to the newly created post of LA’s Chief Design Officer, can do much to elevate LA’s design debate and drive positive outcomes. The stakes are huge.

Mr. Hawthorne enters the fray at a particularly fraught time. Resident opposition to projects is rising citywide for many reasons: From traffic and parking to gentrification fears. I believe a perceived lack of neighborhood compatibility is another significant factor.

Beverly Hilton owner wants voters to approve 26-story condo tower

Last decade, real estate investor Beny Alagem narrowly secured voter approval to construct not only a Waldorf Astoria hotel next to the Beverly Hilton, but also two condo towers -- including an 18-story building that would be the tallest in Beverly Hills.

The referendum proved a significant victory for Alagem in the development-wary city, but it also was contentious, with some opponents making allegations of voter fraud that were never proven.

Now, the owner of the Beverly Hilton is back to take on his opponents again, and this time he wants to go even higher. He’s campaigning to pack all his planned 110 condos into a single 26-story high-rise, and isn’t pinching pennies to get his way.

Alagem and his affiliated companies have so far spent more than $1.2 million, city records show, on attorneys, public relations firms, advertising and other services to place an initiative on the November ballot.

1913 Broadway Building to Become Housing

1913 Broadway Building to Become Housing

DTLA - Plans have been announced to turn yet another Broadway building into housing. This time, it’s the 11-story structure where the Globe Theater fills the ground floor.

The proposal calls for transforming the 1913 edifice into 47 residential units. Kate Bartolo, a consultant working on the project, said it has not been determined if they will be traditional apartments or live-work rental units.

Bartolo would not identify the building owners, though she noted that they have controlled the property since the 1980s. The same group also recently announced plans to convert the J.E. Carr Building at 640 S. Broadway, adjacent to the reopened Clifton’s cafeteria, into a rental property called the Brooks Building.

Los Angeles Architects are Already Reimagining the City's Rooftops

Los Angeles Architects are Already Reimagining the City's Rooftops

For decades, the upper reaches of the Los Angeles skyline have been somewhat anticlimactic. Glimmering glass and steel towers rise from downtown or Century City or the Miracle Mile, glinting in the bright sunny sky, only to top out in a dud: the city's fire code mandates helipads on the tops of skyscrapers taller than 75 feet, which has resulted in a skyline of flat roofs. There are an estimated 745 high-rise buildings in the city, and only a small handful that were built before the rules were enacted in the 1950s have anything but the scissor-snip of a flat top.

But that will soon change. In late September, the Los Angeles Fire Department officially revised its regulations to no longer require helipads on the city's high-rises. Architects and developers are already excited about the possibilities.

Historic Broadway Building Next to Clifton’s Will Be Converted to Housing

Historic Broadway Building Next to Clifton’s Will Be Converted to Housing

Historic Broadway Building Next to Clifton’s Will Be Converted to Housing.
Downtown living, with jello next door

Downtown development is booming, and Broadway is undergoing as big of a transformation as any other street in the city. Adding to the mix is a new plan to convert the historic J.E. Carr Building, which pushes up against the north side of Clifton’s Cafeteria, into residential units.

The building’s developer, a company involved in the restoration of Broadway’s Globe Theatre, has chosen HLW Architects to design the project. Downtown News reports the renovation will add another floor to the seven-story building, along with a fancy mechanized parking garage. When complete, the building will offer 30 one- and two-bedroom residential units ranging from 1,100 to 1,800 square-feet. So far, plans don’t indicate what rental prices might look like for the units, but with such spacious dimensions, they aren’t likely to come cheap.

Historic Carr Building

Residential Conversion of Historic Carr Building

Owner plans resi conversion for DTLA’s Carr Building near Clifton’s
Developer wants to add a floor to the office/retail building at 646 South Broadway

The J.E. Carr Building in Downtown Los Angeles is getting a residential makeover.

A representative of the owner, which CoStar lists as an individual named Sarshar Houman, recently told the L.A. Downtown News he plans to extensively revamp the seven-story property on 7th Street between Hill Street and Broadway.

The redevelopment of the office and retail property, dubbed the Brooks Building after a former tenant, calls for an additional floor, 30 new residential units, an automated parking system and the restoration of its original terra cotta façade.

Designed by the Santa Monica-based HLW Architects, the entire infrastructure of the early 20th century building would be overhauled to implement new plumbing, electrical work and an elevator, project consultant Kate Bartolo told Downtown News.

Downtown's Foreman & Clark Building Getting Residential Conversion

Located at the southwest corner of 7th and Hill Streets, the Foreman & Clark Building was once a pillar of Downtown Los Angeles' pre-war retail scene.  Now, the owner of the mid-rise structure has proposed a mixed-use conversion that could restore the art deco gem to its former stature.  According to plans submitted to the city last month, the discount jewelry stores which currently occupy the 13-story tower's ground floor would be given the boot, to be replaced by two restaurants and a bar-lounge.  The upper floors of the building, now serving as office space, would instead be converted into 165 residential units.

Housing Conversion Planned for Foreman and Clark Building

Although the Historic Core and South Park have seen the vast majority of Downtown adaptive reuse projects, where old buildings are renovated and often become housing, the Jewelry District has largely been overlooked. Now, plans are afoot for a transformation of the Foreman and Clark Building.

Vancouver-based developer Bonnis Properties is looking to upgrade the currently vacant structure at 701 S. Hill St. Plans call for turning the 1928 Art Deco edifice into 124 one- and two-bedroom units ranging from 470-1,075 square feet. According to Kate Bartolo, a land-use consultant working with Bonnis, there would also be 8,527 square feet of retail space on the ground floor and 727 square feet on the mezzanine. The site has been the subject of numerous reported developments in the past, including a hotel, though all faltered. [Jewelry District Building Sells for $52 Million]

646 S. Broadway to Become Housing

648 S. Broadway

Last October, huge crowds flocked to 648 S. Broadway to celebrate the reopening of Clifton’s cafeteria. If all goes according to plan, the momentum will spill over to the next-door property, though for people looking for a home, not a meal.

A developer known as 640 S. Broadway LLC has announced plans to transform the J.E. Carr Building at 646 S. Broadway. The project, to be called the Brooks Building, after a former tenant, will create 30 residential units and a ground-floor bar, and the current seven-story edifice will get an additional level. There will also be an automated parking system. The developer is finalizing plans and expects to file them with the city in the next few weeks, said Kate Bartolo, a land-use consultant who is representing the developer. 

“The time is right, with everything happening on Broadway, to undertake this project,” Bartolo said.

LA Business Journal: Developer Looks to Plant Greenery With Condos

Two things are sorely lacking downtown: greenery and condos.

Developer Barry Shy is offering a remedy, of sorts, for both.

He has three condo projects wending their way through the approval process that, if they go through as planned, will add 854 more units to the Historic Core.

All three – at 601 S. Main St., 920 S. Hill St. and 955 S. Broadway – will add a dash of greenery to the concrete jungle. They will use “greenscaping,” with the larger 920 S. Hill project featuring a 40-foot-high “green wall” and all three slated to sport plants along their respective adjacent alleys.