Tuesday, September 3, 2019

New Development Along The Boulevard

Hello Everyone:

Yours Truly is back from a long and rather dull Labor Day weekend.  Right now, Blogger is hiding out from the hot and humid weather but complaining about seems rather pointless in the face of the Hurricane Dorian's devastation.  Onward.

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Historic photo the Miracle Mile
Los Angeles, California
The Miracle Mile, once Los Angeles' premier location for shopping, is getting ready for a makeover of its own.  The fabled stretch of Wilshire Boulevard, between San Vicente Boulevard and La Brea Avenue, is about to undergo some seriously typical "So L.A.," get work done in the form of a $400-million Art-Deco style luxury skyscraper (latimes.com; May 29, 2019; date accessed Sept. 3, 2019).

The proposed 42-story near the La Brea underground station would replace the Staples office supply store is being pitched by the property's long time owners: the family of real estate broker and developer Walter N. Marks (Ibid).  The Marks family, which has owned the property since 1968, is gambling that there will be high demand for the 371 apartments, including the 56 designated for low-income residents, when the Purple Line extension opens in a few years, bringing with an anticipated 50,000 weekly riders (Ibid).

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Museum Row

Marks family scion Walter N. Marks III told the Los Angeles Times,

There are going to be a lot more people,... Industry follows people, my grandfather used to say (Ibid).

The Marks family are no rehab-novices.  They own and renovated the landmark Helms Bakery District in Culver City and will seek city approval to construct a skyscraper designed by Los Angeles-based architect Richard Keating, the designer of the 52-story Gas Company Tower (laconservancy.org; date accessed Sept. 3, 2019).  Mr. Keating and the Marks family "...envision the tower, set to open in 2023, as an updated version of graceful prewar luxury housing on Wilshire Boulevard,.... In  bid to connect to those origins--as well as that of an Art Deco building on the property..."

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Historic photo of the proposed site

The proposed apartment would mimic the curvilinear shape and overlapping windows that could be opened to allow a breeze.  To make the tower really pop in the current real estate market, it will features several amenities that recall Wilshire's glory days.  The Tower, 5411 Wilshire, will feature "an outdoor deck on the fifth floor big enough for a park with trees, flowers and perimeter walking trail overlooking the city.  There will be a dog exercise area, barbecures and two swimming pools" (latimes.com; May 29, 2019).  Sounds rather nice, if you are more into lifestyle than a life.  In addition to the now ubiquitous gym, there will be a "two-lane bowling alley, a virtual reality gaming room, a golf simulator, dog-grooming space, demonstration kitchen, wine tasting counter, billiard room and yoga studio" (Ibid).  Pretty obvious that millennials are the intended tenant.  The 42nd story will be a private rooftop garden and lounge.  The Marks family also plans an underground parking where the cars will sit on plates that can be used to charge electric vehicles.

Purple Line extension construction on Miracle Mile
Photography by Blogger

Although rent is a long way from being set but expect it to be whatever the market price is--meaning high.  The proposed tower will make the most of the original design for Miracle Mile ((laconservancy.org; date accessed Sept. 3, 2019), conceived by A.W. Ross in 1921 when the boulevard was nothing more than oil wells and barley fields.  The section between Fairfax and La Brea Avenues was planned as a retail and business district with "sidewalks unusually wide at 20 feet to accommodate window shoppers" (latimes.com; May 29, 2019).  Architect Richard Keating told the Los Angeles Times,

We thought the whole frontage should be glassy and retail (Ibid)

The original Miracle Mile was designed with the automobile in mind.  The idea was shoppers would arrive by car therefore, stores like Desmond's and Silverwoods had their entrances in the front, making it easier for shoppers to park in the back and enter in the rear.  The new development would return to form with parking entrances on Cocharn and Cloverdale Avenues.

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Wilshire Boulevard and Cloverdale Avenue
The Marks family also own the Art Deco building adjacent to the Staple store, currently occupied by Wilshire Beauty Supply, the original home of Sontag Drugstore.  The developers hope to open a cafe and restaurant in the newly developed space, named Sontag.
Wilshire Boulevard prospered during the mid-20th century.  Amber Schiada, the regional director for real estate brokers JLL, said "the district was challenged in the latter half of the 20th century by its lack of proximity to the region's developing freeway system" (Ibid).  She continued, [it is] a neighborhood on the rise (Ibid).  The coming underground and overflow from Hollywood, where entertainment companies are expanding rapidly will increase the area's attractiveness.  Ms. Schiada is confident that the new tower will have little trouble drawing new tenants, despite over 44,000 apartment units were built in Los Angeles County between 2013 and 2018 and an additional 24, 6000 are planned for 2023 (Ibid).

The neighborhood got a vote of confidence, Canadian developer Onni Group is in negotiations to buy the Wilshire Courtyard office complex for $630 million (realdeal.com; Jan. 2, 2019; date accessed Sept. 3, 2019)--a jump in price from $4223 million that current owner Tishman Speyer paid seven years ago (latimes.com; May 29, 2019).

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The Miracle Mile
From post World War II until 1980, the Miracle Mile thrived as a linear central business district (Ibid).  During that time period, the Miracle Mile was the star attraction and some of the most memorable buildings were constructed.  One of those buildings was a 32-story high rise at 5900 Wilshire Boulevard and a T-shaped office building near the La BreaTar Pits, now home to SAG-AFTRA by one of the premier mid-century modern architects William Pereira.  If you have been following Blogger over the past few months, you might remember Yours Truly moaning about the starry eyed Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors approval of the $650 million Art Museum renovation. 

Geffen Theater under construction
Academy of Motion Pictures Museum
Photograph by Blogger
Next door to the soon-to-be renovated Los Angeles County Museum of Art and the George C. Page Museum is the Academy of Motion Pictures Museum, occupying the former May Company building by Albert C. Martin, Sr.  The $300 million Art Deco-style museum makes its debut in a few months.  Another apartment tower behind the SAG-AFTRA plaza is also in the works and Metro plans to return some of the luster of the boulevard when it finally finishes its work by replanting the trees it uprooted for the construction. 

Los Angeles is a city grew out of transportation so its stands to reason that transportation would be the catalyst for this new phase.  The new developments hold some promise but it remains to be seen what the overall impact will be on this historic section of Los Angeles. 

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