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Big housing proposal for old Sunkist headquarters enters final stretch in Sherman Oaks

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The “quite controversial” plans now enjoy broad community support

A rendering showing a five-story building with ground-floor commercial space and an outdoor area showing dining and patio space.
A 2018 rendering of the project, looking southwest from Riverside Drive.
Renderings by Johnson Fain, via the department of city planning

A plan to put residential units, shops, and restaurants around a Brutalist office building constructed in the 1970s in Sherman Oaks is moving ahead after a few years of tweaks and negotiations between the developer and the neighborhood.

The project, approved Tuesday by the Los Angeles City Council’s planning and land use management committee, is “an outstanding example of a developer and community working together for a very special and exceptional project,” says Jeffrey Kalban, chair of the Sherman Oaks neighborhood council’s planning and land use committee.

The site at the intersection of Hazeltine and Riverside Drive backs up to the Los Angeles River and the 101 Freeway. The plan to incorporate a 28,000-square-foot park that would connect to the LA River was especially attractive to the neighborhood council, and Kalban called it “a true community amenity.”

The two groups worked over the “last several years” to turn a “quite controversial” development into one that enjoys broad community support, says Dave Rand, a representative for developer IMT Residential.

IMT bought the site in 2013, after Sunkist relocated, and announced plans for the project, also known as Icon Sherman Oaks, in 2014. Some residents pushed back against what they saw as a too-large development that would change the neighborhood’s feel for the worse.

The Brutalist Sunkist building, designed by AC Martin and Associates in 1971, will remain on the site and two new buildings will rise alongside it as part of the development.

The new project, designed by Johnson Fain, calls for 249 housing units (a slight drop from the 298 originally planned), about 27,500 square feet of retail, restaurants, and a grocery store. The development will also have about 1,100 parking spaces in a structure with three above-grade and two below grade levels.

It would preserve and rehabilitate the 1970s Sunkist Headquarters designed by AC Martin and Associates. Its 127,000 square feet would be used as office space.

The developer will include 25 units priced for households with moderate incomes, or $56,760 and $85,140, according to a spokesperson for City Councilmember David Ryu, whose district includes the Sunkist site.

Ryu has previously voiced concern that the city does not have enough housing for moderate-income Angelenos, who make too much to qualify for low-income housing but who nevertheless still struggle to afford LA’s rising rents.

The plans still needs the approval of the full City Council, but these are the last entitlements the developer is requesting from city planners.