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Are Nervous Developers Giving Us A Stumpy Downtown?

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In the next couple of years, 10,000 new residential units will open Downtown, and nearly all will be in mid-rise, seven-stories-or-less buildings. Is the neighborhood missing its shot at a skyscraping future by eating up surface parking lots with short buildings? City Planning Director Michael LoGrande and SCI-Arc Director Eric Owen Moss worry that we are. "It seems odd that as the city grows, the quality of Downtown stone construction is being replaced by sticks and plaster. A bigger scale and larger conception is being replaced by a smaller scale and no conception, other than an easy to replicate economic model," Moss told Downtown News. LoGrande added that "a lot of the growth that we need to accommodate the future could be on these sites, right next to transit. That opportunity could be lost." So many developers are building short for just the reasons you'd expect: it's cheaper, and the permitting process is often a lot quicker. But DN talked to a handful of Downtown players to see what would get them to reach for the stars.

Tom Gilmore: The coming zoning code overhaul should make it easier to build tall. "You do what the adaptive reuse ordinance did. You can encourage a certain type of building by making it easier to build that way."

Sonny Astani: The mid-rise construction boom is a result of developers made risk-averse by the recession. When market rates for condos and apartments rise enough, we'll see more high-rise buildings.

Izek Shomof: Shomof has a 22-story tower in the works in the Historic Core and wonders what everyone else is waiting for. "High-rises can get more units and the numbers work out better if they go higher and taller. I'm just surprised, wondering what is the catch? What am I missing?"

Tom Warren: Warren's company, Holland Partners, has high-rises going up in other cities, but not in LA. "In my view, high-rise is the right product type when we're building in the most desirable locations, where there's not sufficient land available and there's a reason to be right there."
· Is Downtown's Low-Rise Building Spree Hurting the Community? [DN]