There's an update to the saga of 537 Hewitt Street, the brick warehouse directly across the street from the Barker Block complex. Earlier this year, neighbors were quivering, fearing a tower would rise on the site when developer KOR sold the building to HBK Investments, which in turn announced they were going to sell or lease the site. Now comes news that HBK Investments is selling the site to the Department of Water and Power, which is planning to turn turn multiple buildings in the area into a campus to study clean technology, among other things. The whole area will see changes, which has at least one Barker Block resident sounding very happy. She writes: "This will mean a huge upgrade for the block across the street and Fifth St... [the DWP] will definitely want to have a nice space for the scientists and visitors, and with the funding already in place, this is only good news for us!" Scientists in the Arts District, who would have thought....
More on how this all went down: On Tuesday, the DWP Board approved the purchase of 501, 537 South Hewitt Street and 516, 524, and 542 Colyton Street for $11.125 million. According to the DWP's agenda, the campus will create approximately 350 new jobs, and serve as a place to develop and commercialize new energy and water technologies, and perform Smart Grid and electric vehicle research (some of this is also via a partnership with the Community Redevelopment Agency's business incubator project).
A rep from HBK Investments confirmed the DWP's approval of the purchase. The DWP declined to comment. No one returned calls from the CRA. But earlier this month, the CRA announced their plans to work with the DWP on a proposed Clean Technology Development Center. From a press release: “The Clean Technology Business Incubator will help CRA/LA fulfill its role of economic development and job creation by encouraging research and development in green technologies such as renewable energy, recycling and next-generation transportation,” said Calvin Hollis, CRA/LA Interim Chief Executive Officer.
Additionally, some of the retail in the long brick warehouse on Hewitt, currently home to Cleveland Arts furniture store, among other retailers, is said to be staying.
More to come on this project, and hopefully, more info on all those scientists that'll be queuing up at Urth during lunchtime.
· Utility Yard for Hewitt Unlikely [Curbed LA]
· Hewitt Street Drama: Who is Moving In? [Curbed LA]