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The game-changing development proposals of 2017

From the creepy Lincoln Heights Jail to a new high-rise in Westlake

The proposed development at Fourth and Hill would bring an 88-story tower, among other things, to the Downtown site.
Courtesy of Councilmember Jose Huizar

Plenty of new buildings were proposed for Los Angeles in 2017, but only a handful are positioned to dramatically change neighborhoods. We’ve picked five projects that fit the bill.

We looked at developments that were presented for the first time this year, as well as projects whose details and renderings were revealed in 2017. Now, to watch them in 2018.

1. Angels Landing

Courtesy of Councilmember Jose Huizar

This year, the city chose a development team comprising Claridge Properties, MacFarlane Partners, and The Peebles Corporation to build two new towers on a site at Hill and Fourth.

That’s a prominent Downtown corner adjacent to Angels Flight and Grand Central Market; it’s been rebranded Angels Landing (and was owned by the now defunct community redevelopment agency).

The development plans call for an impressive 1,000-foot-tall, 88-story skyscraper—the tallest residential building in the western U.S.—and a 24-story tower.

The project would hold 500 high-end hotel rooms, an elementary school, over 400 apartments, and 250 condos. It would also create an open plaza around the existing Pershing Square subway station entrance on Hill Street.

The project is expected to be complete in late 2024.

2. AECOM’s LA River proposal

Courtesy of AECOM

In October, AECOM released a flashy set of renderings that envision what the Los Angeles River might look like in a few decades. The images showed parks, restored marshlands, and even new development along the river’s banks.

AECOM wasn’t proposing anything new. Rather, the renderings showing what it would look like if all the riverside community plans and master plans—including the Boyle Heights Community Plan, Cornfield Arroyo Specific Plan, Civic Center Master Plan, and Union Station Master Plan—were implemented.

It was a move intended to help show how great the collective impact of all the already proposed plans could be, and the hope was that seeing how amazing the transformed river could look would encourage all the invested parties to work together to make it happen.

“We want them to stop and think about how the pieces could fit together, and not do it piecemeal,” Nancy Michali, AECOM’s vice president of urban design, told Curbed.

3. Lake on Wilshire

View of Lake on Wilshire from street level. The building has a multi-colored section directly at the street corner, with a tower rising behind it. Via Department of City Planning

2017 brought our first good look at a 41-story project on Wilshire Boulevard in Westlake, just around the corner from the Westlake/MacArthur Park subway station and the station’s namesake park.

Called Lake on Wilshire, the development would convert a 14-story medical office building into a 220-room hotel, and bring a 41-story residential tower and a five-story cultural center with an auditorium and classroom space to what’s now an adjacent parking lot.

The project is a large development in the neighborhood for sure, but especially given the 31-story project Jamison and Hankey Group have proposed for the Westlake/Koreatown border.

4. Boyle Heights Sears

The exterior of the Boyle Heights Sears. The facade is tan and the word: Sears is on two different signs on top of the building. Courtesy of The Shomof Group

The plan to turn the 13-acre Sears complex in Boyle Heights into a mixed-use development is not new, but details of the project and illuminating renderings that came out this year really paint a clear picture about how developer Izek Shomof is transforming the large property.

Shomof plans to turn the recognizable Art Deco tower and the vacant 10-story distribution center attached to it into a sprawling mixed-use campus with offices, event space, a food hall, a rooftop restaurant, more than 1,000 live-work units, and a pool and amenity space for future residents.

The Sears project, which sits along the LA River, is already having a ripple effect in the area, as Shomof also plans to build a new mixed-user on Soto Street with 62,120 square feet for ground-level retail, “extensive parking,” and 540 housing units, and is already thinking of a second phase of development that might include a hotel.

5. Lincoln Heights Jail redevelopment

A rendering of the Lincoln Heights Jail in Los Angeles, California. There are buildings lining a pedestrian street. Over the street are strings of purple lights. There are purple trees lining the street. Courtesy of Rios Clementi Hale Studios

It was a busy year for the creepy old Lincoln Heights Jail: 2017 brought three finalists for the redevelopment of shuttered city landmark, as well as the selection of developers Lincoln Property Company and Fifteen Group to ultimately do the transformation.

The 229,000-square-foot, decommissioned jail has been closed and vacant since 2014, following the discovery of lead and asbestos in the building.

The winning proposal for its reboot includes adaptively reusing the 1930s-era jail and an adjacent property to create what they’re calling the Lincoln Heights Makers District, a cluster of commercial and manufacturing spaces, a public market, creative offices, live/work housing, affordable housing, recreation space, and a communal rooftop area.

The project, which sits alongside the Los Angeles River, would also include the creation of a greenway to the Lincoln Heights/Cypress Park Gold Line station nearby on Avenue 26.