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.

The budget for the transformation has not been revealed. Bartolo said the owner, whom she would not identify beyond the LLC, has had the building since the 1980s, and that the turnaround was spurred by the arrival of new development partners.

The Carr Building opened in 1909, with a Renaissance Revival design from the architecture firm R.B. Young and Son. Initially the home of a furniture company, it housed the Brooks Clothing company in the 1940s. There were other clothing tenants through the ’70s, though the upper floors have been vacant since the ’80s.

Santa Monica-based HLW Architects is handling designs for the overhaul. The entire infrastructure will be redone, with new plumbing, electrical work and a new elevator, Bartolo said. The exterior will also be restored, including the removal of a partial brick veneer that was added in the ’60s. The original terra cotta façade will return.

With the addition of a new floor, the building will have 65,000 square feet of space. The plan, Bartolo said, is to have amenities on the roof, though specifics have not been determined.

Tentative plans call for one and two-bedroom rental units. The former residences will be roughly 1,100 square feet, with the latter approximately 1,800 square feet. No pricing has been determined.

The Carr Building’s original lobby became retail space. Plans call for converting it back into a lobby, though other ground-floor space will become a bar, with some access to the basement. Bartolo said the goal is to create a roughly 2,500-square-foot bar with outdoor seating (two ficus trees in front of the property will be removed). The bar is being designed by Los Angeles-based Raveled Studio.

The Carr Building currently lacks parking, but the developer intends to add it, Bartolo said. The 8,000-square-foot facility will be fully automated, with cars dropped off and moved up and down via a mechanized system.

The project is currently seeking city approvals. Bartolo said the developer will make sure the upgrades fit with current standards for Broadway projects. Bartolo estimates the project will take two to three years to complete.

(Los Angeles Downtown News, June 23, 20016)