Quick, let's jump in the Wayback Machine and head to March 2008, when we heard that the Grand Avenue megadevelopment Downtown "is officially flush with $100 million in Dubai money and ground-breaking is scheduled for next month." What actually happened the next month is that developer Related Cos. asked for the first of many extensions (since it planned to build in part with redevelopment money--and the redevelopment agency doesn't even exist anymore, incidentally--it had to consult a joint powers authority); the first piece of the project, the big Grand Park, just opened last fall. But drum roll: today ground officially broke on Grand Ave.'s very first building, on a site called Parcel M next to The Broad art museum (which just topped off this week). It'll be a 19-story tower with 271 mixed-income apartments (20 percent affordable) and a 5,000 square foot restaurant space. Arquitectonica designed the building, which will "be a pure rectangular white prism punctuated by windows of varying sizes and proportions ... The windows gradually change in scale, culminating in energy zones of full glass at the ground level on Grand Avenue and at the top of the building facing Hope Street and the freeway."
LARGE Architecture is the executive firm on the project; Marmol Radziner will handle interiors, and Rios Clementi Hale, which designed the Grand Park, will be landscaping. Meanwhile, The Broad is working (with Related's help) on a plaza between the two buildings, which should open with the museum in early 2014.
At the apartment groundbreaking ceremony today, officials stressed the mixed-incomeness of this building (which will help keep Downtown diverse) and the transit-agency--the tower will be just across Hope from a future Regional Connector rail station. Related CEO Bill Witte said the building would open at the end of 2014: "You can hold me to this." As for the rest of Grand Avenue, it's all still very much up in the air.