2018 was the year in which a few long-in-the-works projects—like the revamp of the Baldwin Hills Crenshaw Plaza or the reopening of the vacant Sunset/Gordon tower in Hollywood—won the city approvals needed to move forward. It was also a year when a potential record-breaker, a 77-story tower taller than the Wilshire Grand, was proposed and revealed in renderings.
To encapsulate all the forward movement that happened on the development front in the last 365 days, here’s a round-up some of the big approvals, legal wins, and proposals that came forward this year.
Baldwin Hills Crenshaw Plaza reboot
Chicago-based Capri Capital Partners has been at work for years on a plan to transform the Baldwin Hills Crenshaw shopping mall into a sprawling mixed-use complex with almost 1,000 residential units, a hotel, and new retail and restaurant space.
The plan was contentious. Many community members were eager to see what they saw as a rare investment in their community; others felt that the project’s community benefits and affordable housing component didn’t go nearly far enough. The city denied appeals from seven groups, approving the project in June.
The rehab of Long Beach’s historic Breakers
At the beginning of 2018, a newly formed investment and development company, Pacific6, announced it would be undertaking a major renovation of the historic Breakers hotel in downtown Long Beach, not far from the waterfront and the city’s convention center. Pacific6 plans to spend up to $60 million on updating the structure.
The mostly vacant building was designed by powerhouse architecture firm Walker & Eisen and opened in 1926 as a high-end resort, but has largely fallen into disrepair in recent years. Pacific6 plans to rehab the building and reopen it as “an independent hotel, featuring best-in-class amenities, entertainment, and dining.”
Bunker Hill’s 77-story tower
Shenzhen New World Group, the owners of a hotel at Third Street and Figueroa, submitted plans to build a 77-story high-rise on the site. The Bunker Hill tower would soar to 1,107 feet, eclipsing, by seven feet, the 1,100-foot-tall Wilshire Grand. If ultimately built, it would earn the title of LA’s tallest building.
Hollywood Target beats legal challenge
Conspicuously half-finished at a busy intersection in Hollywood, the Target at Sunset and Western in Hollywood is probably Los Angeles’s most famous stalled project—but a December legal ruling has cleared the way for work to pick up again. A Target spokesperson confirmed just this week that construction would resume but did not provide a date.
Martin Expo Town Center
A planned residential and retail project less than a block away from the Expo/Bundy Station on the Expo Line was approved by the Los Angeles City Council in 2016, but was hit with a lawsuit almost immediately, halting any forward movement on the development. This year, an appeals court sided with Martin Expo Town Center developers the Martin family, which for over 40 years has owned and operated a Cadillac/GMC dealership on the site. A groundbreaking for the project is planned for late 2019.
Developer Faring had originally planned to demolish the legendary West Hollywood club The Factory to clear the site for a mixed-use project including a hotel and restaurants, but tweaked their plans to include the Factory—albeit, a shortened version, in a new location on the property. A handful of West Hollywood planning commissioners, community members, and preservationists worried that making alterations to The Factory building would make it ineligible for landmark designation with the California Register of Historic Resources. Despite those worries, the West Hollywood City Council approved the project in June.
Sunset/Gordon moves toward reopening
The 22-story Sunset/Gordon tower has been vacant since 2015, when a judge invalidated the Hollywood project’s permits because the developer CIM demolished a building on-site that it was supposed to preserve. But just this month, the Los Angeles City Council gave the project the approvals needed to reopen the building to tenants. It is unclear when tenants will begin to move into the building again.
Vermont/Manchester lot becomes LA County-led mixed-use development
2018 was a rollercoaster of a year for a blighted property at the corner of Vermont and Manchester in Vermont Knolls. Empty since the 1992 Uprising, the land was owned by Sassony Group and developer Eli Sassony and sat fallow for decades. In 2014, Sassony proposed a high-end retail center with restaurants that did not materialize. The lot had become a nuisance and an “eyesore,” city officials and community members said.
In 2017, Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors voted unanimously to use eminent domain to take the property from Sasson to build a mixed-use development with affordable housing; commercial space for a grocery store, shops, and eateries; and a boarding school. This year, a court approved the move. Demolition began in the spring, and the county has chosen developers for the project.
Viper Room-replacing hotel and condo project
The Sunset Strip could be the future home of a far-out hotel and condo project designed by architect Thom Mayne’s Los Angeles-based firm, Morphosis. The development would rise 15 stories, and include public green space as well as a new home for the legendary venue the Viper Room. (The existing Viper Room structure would be demolished for the new structures.)
Developers Silver Creek Company tested the waters for the futuristic design at a community meeting in early December; the project has yet to be formally submitted to the city of West Hollywood.
This 475-unit live/work complex developed by AvalonBay was approved in 2018 and is scheduled to break ground in 2019. The R&A Architecture-designed project at 668 Alameda Street in the Arts District will bring not only housing but also a grocery store and retail space to a site where there now four cold storage warehouses.
It would bring even more units than the neighborhood-changing One Santa Fe. But four years have passed since One Santa Fe opened, and 668 Alameda can hardly be considered a mega-project. Directly north of here, developer Sun Cal and architecture firm Herzog & deMeuron have proposed a mixed-use development with two 58-story towers and more than 1,700 residential units.