“Nobody walks in L.A.”
This has been the city’s mantra for decades, but a $2.5 billion large scale development is on track to bring nearly six acres of pedestrian-friendly mixed-use space to a neighborhood largely known for its skyscrapers, office buildings and the filming lots of Fox Studios. Such a high-profile redevelopment plan is one of the first forays into finding a practical solution for how to make L.A. neighborhoods more walkable without sacrificing precious street-level frontage which could be used for revenue-generating retail space. For a city where only 14% of trips take place by walking, biking or public transit, according to city estimates, this could be the start of something big.
Century Plaza, located in the neighborhood of Century City, is nearing the last stages of its multi-year overhaul that will bring two new 44-story estate residential towers with a combined 268 luxury properties to stand behind the architecturally significant Century Plaza Hotel (the hotel will now be run by Fairmont Hotels). This crescent-shaped hotel was designed by Minoru Yamasaki (who designed the original Twin Towers in New York City) and has been host to dozens of celebrities since its 1966 completion. The original redevelopment plan called for razing the hotel and replacing it with two new office towers—a plan preservationists and local residents opposed fully. When the proposal changed to one that kept the hotel but added two towers for residences, not offices, locals embraced the plan without any opposition. The plan also calls for the upper floors of the hotel to be turned into 63 luxury condos, an event space that a rep for the developers estimates to be the largest event space on the westside of Los Angeles and indoor/outdoor ground level retail measuring approximately 100,000 square feet. Retail tenants have not been announced.
As for the pedestrian part, designers are going to fill in the existing sunken plaza so it is at grade and build two oval pavilions, as pictured above, that have the flexibility of providing revenue-generating retail/restaurant/coffee bar/pop-up space. They are also going to turn what is currently the hotel lobby into a breezeway (pictured below). It is niche adaptations such as these, with a flexible use design, that will be how L.A. transforms itself away from a car-centric city. L.A. is too built up to add parks or open trails at this point, so retrofitting open spaces is the only way it is going to work. As this example shows, the design needs to provide a place for people to congregate, which will increase the liveliness factor, yet still allows for the square footage to ‘pay for itself’, while also making good use of a street front that would otherwise be empty pavement.
This project has been in the works since 2008 when the entire parcel sold to Woodridge Capital Partners, led by CEO Michael Rosenfeld, for $366.5. Roughly one billion of construction financing was reported as coming from three sources—J.P. Morgan Chase, a real estate investment firm called Colony Capital and EB-5 financing via an LLC called CMB Export. According to a press release from Woodridge Capital Partners they have surpassed $200 million in pre-completion residential sales as of this month. Residences in the hotel are expected to be ready by spring 2020 and Tower residences approximately a year after that. Prices start at $2 million for the condo units. Here are a few renderings of what they look like.
The kitchen and dining rooms have an open plan design. Wide plank flooring is included in every unit.
Some of the bedrooms have private outdoor space.
Working gas fireplaces are included in some of the condos.
Owners can have access to private wine lockers.
There is also a rooftop pool, fitness center, business center, a resident’s only dog park, children’s room and amenity deck with outdoor kitchen. Residents can receive a discount on various hotel amenities. For more information