The year is drawing to a close, but some of the most-talked about issues and real estate developments of 2017 are still up in the air. Here are the 11 biggest cliffhangers of the year, from an over-the-top and ridiculously expensive spec house to Airbnb to road diets to the fate of CBS Television City.
The $250-million spec house
Luxury developer Bruce Makowsky put his 38,000-square-foot, 12-bedroom Bel Air estate on the market in January. It’s a monster of a spec house that more resembles—both in function and aesthetics—a hotel than a home, which is why we’re wondering, who exactly is going to buy this “lavish pile of glass, white walls, and turf”?
CBS Television City
The Real Deal dropped a real estate bomb in September with news that CBS Corporation is considering selling its massive TV City studios in Fairfax. It’s not clear what would become of the campus if it does sell, but The Real Deal reports that there are at least two “major developers” interested in the site, located near The Grove and the Farmers Market.
According to the Los Angeles Conservancy, one of the studios was where Elvis Presley’s first appearance on The Ed Sullivan Show was filmed and the studios figured prominently in the careers of comedians Jack Benny and Carol Burnett.
Public transit in the Arts District
Metro’s CEO said in November it would take a “miracle” to build a second rail stop in the Arts District, but we have a feeling that won’t stop local businesses and residents from making it happen. Wouldn’t it be convenient to have a station on the southern end of the neighborhood?
Big development in Santa Monica
This year, Santa Monica adopted a pretty progressive plan to deal with development in downtown Santa Monica (it does away with parking minimums!). With the plan finally in place, expect three big projects to move forward: a Frank Gehry-designed hotel tower on Ocean Avenue, a makeover and expansion of the Fairmont Miramar Hotel, and a mixed-use complex with a hotel, affordable housing, shops, and offices.
Each of those large projects were put on hold while the downtown plan was being hashed out, and now that it’s finally in place, we won’t be surprised to see headway in 2018.
Airbnb vs. the city and renters
This one is a doozy. It was on our year-end list of cliffhangers in 2015, and it’s still, well, hanging. For more than two years now, city officials have been finessing rules to rein in Airbnb hosts by capping the number of days and types of units they can rent. That’s bad for hosts, of course, who stand to lose money, and they’re putting up a fight.
The battle should interest everyone who lives in LA.
That’s because some critics argue Airbnb is making the area’s housing crisis worse. Homeowners and landlords are taking units that would otherwise go to longer-term tenants off the market—they can make a lot more money renting to short-term vacationers and tourists.
According to the Los Angeles Times, city staffers estimate there as many as 10,000 “housing units that are not available to tenants because they are used primarily for short-term rentals.”
The Pershing Square makeover
The unwelcoming, concrete-laden Downtown square is begging for a green reboot, and though progress was made this year on a planned redesign helmed by Agence Ter and Gruen Associates, we still haven’t heard how the makeover will be funded or when it will break ground. Fingers crossed for a big announcement in 2018.
The beautiful old Westlake Theatre
This one is on our list not just because the building is beautiful, but because of its location next to MacArthur Park, a neighborhood on the cusp of major change as development bleeds out from neighboring Downtown LA.
Recognizable for its steel-framed rooftop neon sign, the historic venue has fallen into disrepair. The CRA/LA, the successor agency to the defunct Community Redevelopment Agency of Los Angeles, put the property up for sale this year after failing to redevelop it on its own.
Bids were due in August, and we’re still waiting to hear who the buyer is and what they have in store.
Will Mayor Eric Garcetti and other city leaders double-down on their commitment to Vision Zero, a plan to keep drivers, passengers, bicyclists, and pedestrians from dying on LA’s streets—in part, by slowing down traffic via road diets? All signs point to “no,” given that, in 2017, Los Angeles City Councilmembers blocked road diets in Mid-City, Playa de Rey, and North Hollywood.
If they have given up, we’re left wondering, what’s their new plan to deal with LA’s deadly streets?
The Art Deco THR building
But preservationists scored a victory when the Art Deco building was landmarked in November. Time will tell whether that designation will save the building from the wrecking ball.
Frank Gehry’s Sunset Strip complex
The Sunset Strip is getting fancier and fancier with the addition of luxury hotels and high-end shops. One of the most transformative projects is bound to be a Frank Gehry-designed retail and housing complex between Havenhurst and Crescent Heights.
We’re waiting to see whether the developer can prove to the court that the bank building needs to be torn down—or whether it should be preserved, either on site as part of Gehry’s design, or relocated, as the conversancy has proposed.