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"Megadevelopment" Seeks to Singlehandedly Gentrify Hollywood's Donut Time District

The strip of Santa Monica Boulevard around Highland Avenue in Hollywood is known for two things: its former Del Taco location (RIP) and its still-kicking Donut Time, epicenter of the neighborhood's trans prostitution scene (which was lovingly captured in the recent movie Tangerine—check it out!). It's a land of stripmalls and check cashing places, but one developer wants to singlehandedly reinvent the Donut Time District as a place where boring yuppies can have a good time living and shopping too. The Los Angeles Business Journal reports that developer AvalonBay just spent nearly $100 million to buy land at Santa Monica and Las Palmas, and will spend another $375 million on a six-acre "megadevelopment" that is "large enough, it hopes, to be its own safe haven and even a catalyst for gentrification in the area."

To anyone who's been in the neighborhood lately, the project might seem pretty out of place, but AvalonBay believes by the time they complete their giant mixed-user, other developers will have followed in their footsteps to help erase the neighborhood as we now know it. "The size of the project is such that it has the potential to change the neighborhood and create a critical mass," says AvalonBay VP of Development Mark Janda.

Details for the project are still forthcoming, but we do know it will have 695 residential units (31 of which will be affordable housing) and 25,000 square feet of retail space. Colliers International is in charge of leasing out the retail portions of the project and has promised to focus on providing amenities for skittish residents who aren't keen on walking Santa Monica Boulevard to shop—a rep says the company is "trying to create a little community out of the retail."

AvalonBay is also behind a redevelopment of the former Movietown Plaza shopping center less than a mile away in West Hollywood. That project, under the company's flagship "Avalon" branding, is geared towards high-end shoppers and residents. The Las Palmas project is under the "Ava" brand (also seen in Little Tokyo), which is geared towards the "hip creative class," enticing them with such amenities as "bright colors and social gathering spaces." You know, Millennial crap.

The complex will be built on the site of two nightclubs, Circus Disco and Arena. The clubs' owner, Gene La Pietra, actually tried to redevelop the land himself, but couldn't finance the project. AvalonBay was able to swoop in and buy the properties from La Pietra complete with approvals, which saves them the time and effort it would have taken to go through that red tape with the city.

Building designs are being drawn up now while AvalonBay obtains it's permits, and they plan to start construction next year, with a completion date in early 2018. —Jeff Wattenhofer
· Not Even Close [LA Business Journal]
· New Look and a Groundbreaking For WeHo's Movietown Plaza [Curbed LA]