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Curbed LA - All Love where you live

  • Beloved Bob Baker Marionette Theater to reopen in Highland Park this fall
    by Bianca Barragan on February 20, 2019 at 9:29 pm

    The new home—a former theater—will be inspired by decades-old sketches The landmark Bob Baker Marionette Theater will reopen in a new brick-and-mortar location this fall, theater representatives said Tuesday. The new marionette theater will be housed in a former theater and Korean church on York Boulevard in Highland Park. The theater left its longtime Westlake home in November. The building that has housed the theater for more than five decades is slated to be demolished at an unknown date to make way for a mixed-use development. The theater was offered a space in the new project but decided to strike out on its own. “This was the space where you could pretty much walk in and see it right away,” the theater’s executive director and lead puppeteer Alex Evans told the Los Angeles Times. “We don’t have to change much to make it feel Bob Baker.” Architecture firm Escher GuneWardena has signed on to help renovate the Highland Park theater for its new tenant. The building, which was built in the 1920s, has a few remaining Art Deco touches that theater leadership is excited to incorporate into the new theater. “We’ve done [performances] in a box for 55 years,” Evans told the Times. “There’s moldings on the doorways here. That’s more than we had in the other theater.” With its bright red curtains and prolific tinsel, the original marionette theater will be a hard act to follow, but the future home of the Bob Baker Marionette Theater will be based on “original and unrealized concepts by Bob Baker himself,” as seen in drawings by Morton Haack—the costume designer for the original Planet of the Apes—sketched nearly 60 years ago. A rendering by Morton Haack.A rendering by Morton Haack.The new theater will also incorporate “all the beloved features of the current theater, from the drywall to the chandeliers.” Bob Baker and Alton Wood opened the marionette theater in 1963. Both were puppeteers. Baker worked on numerous films, including Close Encounters of the Third Kind, Disney’s Bedknobs and Broomsticks, and episodes of Star Trek, according city documents related to the theater’s landmarking. L.A.’s historic Bob Baker Marionette Theater is moving to Highland Park [Curbed LA] Landmark Bob Baker Marionette Theater will get new home in mixed-use development [Curbed LA] First Look at the Bob Baker Marionette Theater Mixed-User [Curbed LA […]

  • Gorgeous two-bedroom in Spanish Colonial-style Fairfax fourplex seeks $950K
    by Jenna Chandler on February 20, 2019 at 7:39 pm

    The 1920s building is a tenancy in common Here’s a two-bedroom in a charming Spanish Colonial-style fourplex next to Fairfax High School, a prime location for getting the first pick at the Melrose flea market every Sunday. Constructed in 1928, the building is peppered with period flourishes, including tile, wrought-iron railings, and stately wood doors. The unit that’s on the market measures 1,347 square feet and holds two bathrooms, plus a “home office nook,” dining room, and in-unit washer and dryer. Replete with Gothic arches and wall nooks, it has also been modernized with a contemporary kitchen and bathrooms, recessed lighting, and engineered wood floors. The living room opens to a long and narrow wood balcony, and there’s a shared community garden and patio. It’s listed for $950,000, with HOA dues of $225 per month. The building is a tenancy in common. Original tiles line a shared staircase. Gothic arches and wall nooks throughout.Updates include recessed lighting and new wood floors.The living room opens to a long and narrow balcony. 500 North Genesee 502 1⁄2 [Christopher Stanley, Vanguard Properties […]

  • U.S. transportation department says it’s pulling funding for high-speed rail
    by Elijah Chiland on February 20, 2019 at 7:10 pm

    More trouble for the bullet train from San Francisco to LA The U.S. Department of Transportation announced Tuesday that it was pulling nearly $1 billion in federal funding from California’s high-speed rail project, following through with a threat from President Donald Trump to defund the project. In a press release, the department also said it was “actively exploring every legal option” to get back $2.5 billion already spent on the “now-defunct project.” Last week, California Gov. Gavin Newsom said in his “state of the state” address that his administration would focus on building out the train line between Bakersfield and Merced, leaving a long-promised connection between Los Angeles and San Francisco for later. “Right now there simply isn’t a path to get from Sacramento to San Diego—let alone from San Francisco to LA,” the governor said. The speech led many to conclude Newsom was scrapping the project entirely—including Trump, who tweeted last week that the state “has been forced to cancel the massive bullet train project.” In the same tweet, Trump argued that the state should give back all federal money committed to the project. “We want that money back now,” he wrote. Newsom later clarified his position on the train. A spokesperson for the governor told Curbed that the state of the state address was aimed at “refocusing and reprioritizing” the project “to get a finished section from Bakersfield to Merced.” In a letter to the California High Speed Rail Authority, federal railroad administrator Ronald Batory argues that the state has “failed to make reasonable progress” on the project and has not met benchmarks key to completing the train on time. Batory also highlights Newsom’s speech, calling his plan for the project “a significant retreat from the state’s initial vision.” In a statement yesterday, High-Speed Rail Authority CEO Brian Kelly called the transportation department’s decision “ll-advised and misguided.” Kelly said that environmental review for the project’s San Francisco to Los Angeles route would continue and that the agency’s “commitment to delivering the requirements of the grant agreements remains.” According to Batory’s letter, California will have until March 5 to challenge the decision. Kelly says the rail authority is preparing a “formal response” to federal transportation officials. A representative for Newsom did not immediately respond to a request for comment. New California governor hits brakes on high-speed rail to LA [Curbed LA] California high-speed rail from LA to SF still on, says governor [Curbed SF] High-speed rail authority narrowing down routes through Los Angeles [Curbed LA […]

  • The LA party manifesto
    by Lisa Napoli on February 20, 2019 at 6:00 pm

    Work brought me to LA, but a weekly party helped me create a life here When life tilted me from the East Coast to the west, I didn’t intend to stay. I’d lost my job as the internet reporter in a layoff at MSNBC over two years before, and was thrilled to have finally landed a new one in public radio in Los Angeles—even if it meant leaving a lovely apartment I owned in my beloved hometown of New York City and arriving in a new city at age 40 as a single woman. I was so sure I wouldn’t stick around that I planted myself across the street from the studio of my new employer in Downtown, the better to make a quick escape when my new boss, I hoped, would let me go back home. Never mind that the building was as frumpy as the neighborhood was then. The promise of a commute-free life, a killer pool where I could swim laps each day, and a breathtaking view of the newly opened Walt Disney Concert Hall helped me decide on my temporary locale. Eager to meet people outside of work so that it didn’t become the center of my new universe, I started “dating for friends,” accepting every invitation, working my way down a list of the few people I knew in Southern California, as well as friends other friends recommended I call on. I figured a social whirlwind would make the year fly by. One Friday afternoon, I invited two newfound acquaintances for a late-day swim. Barbara was herself new to town; Chris was a native who had recently returned. The three of us sat in my urban oasis, drinking wine and getting to know one another. As the sun set, we moved up to my one-bedroom apartment to rustle up some supper. No movie star could feel as grand. This was not a typical day for a native of Flatbush, or for most any inhabitant of New York. The next week, Barb brought a friend, and the week after, I had a friend in town, and suddenly our Friday gathering had become a ritual. Each week, we’d add to our growing group of friends by inviting others with whom we collided along the way. Some would balk at driving to Downtown; some seemed disappointed when they arrived that the place they were visiting wasn’t a sweeping loft. Others were as hungry for community as we were, and didn’t care. When people asked what they could bring, or if they could bring a friend, we learned to say, “Bring what looks good” and “Bring whomever you’d like.” Sometimes the newbies wound up coming back each week, and we’d never again see the person who’d brought them. One regular started to use the gatherings to test out potential dates. If they were prissy enough to hesitate at the location or the shoes-off policy, they were out. If they got it, they might just be his kind of woman. One week, after a visitor arrived with the fixings for fajitas and headed for the stove in my tiny kitchen, it became clear that an all-out potluck situation wasn’t really feasible in the space I had. Each Friday morning before work, I’d start a crock-pot soup or chili of some sort, with an edge toward vegetarian, so as to please as many comers as possible. After my college friend, Liz, turned me on to (the now sadly defunct) Surfas, I bought a baker’s dozen of plates, and bowls, and mugs, and utensils. Each Friday typically started with four bottles of wine I’d bought during my weekly grocery run, amplified by a rosé or bubbly brought by Barb and a lush red Chris knew was my personal favorite. Some weeks a dozen more bottles walked in the door. Other weeks, more cheese and crackers or beer arrived than anything else. Some weeks there were just enough people to gather around the old oak table that had trekked around with me since early in my career. Other weeks, 40 people trailed in and out till midnight. On nights the Dodgers played at home, whoever was around would gather in the bedroom for a view of the fireworks display at game’s end. (The stadium view was blocked in the living room.) Always, there managed to be enough food and booze to sate everyone. Community was what most of us were hungering for. Fretting about quantity and tableware and the guest list and other things that paralyze so many people from opening up their homes was not part of our Friday night tradition. “Martha Stewart would not approve,” someone once said of our parties, and that made me proud. This this was my kind of modern family—without the pretense of a salon, nor the intensity of a religion ritual. A gathering of humans in a world filled with fascinating and yet often lonely people, huddling in their own isolated spaces, craving fellowship. The details weren’t as important as the greater whole—random connections, unexpected discussions with people you didn’t know or whom you’d met a few weeks before, no networking or agenda. In an age of airbrushed perfection and neurotic phobias about looking perfect for Instagram, here we were, hanging out, week after week—a modern family. Just as potlucks wouldn’t work, I also decided that keeping a list or sending out an email was against the spirit of the the gathering. (Plus, it was a tedious detail.) People just learned each week to show up at Apartment 1837. When I announced a six-week hiatus to volunteer to help start a radio station in Asia, I was flattered that the regulars resolved to keep the party going elsewhere—and I myself started having a party in my short-term rental in Bhutan. An invitation to our Friday night typically elicited one of two reactions: The skeptic was quick with disapproval. “Every week? Isn’t that expensive/exhausting/too much to clean up? What do you do if you’re not in the mood?” To which I’d respond, “Kids and spouses are 24/7,” to make the point that once-a-week chaos seemed nothing in comparison to what some consider traditional family life. This this was my kind of modern family—without the pretense of a salon, nor the intensity of a religion ritual. A gathering of humans in a world filled with fascinating and yet often lonely people, huddling in their own isolated spaces, craving fellowship. As life does and should, it marched on: Barb eventually left town, and Chris moved away too. I met a man at the nearby Central Library. He started coming to the parties. We’ve lived together in a larger unit here for quite some time now. Over eight years, with an open door and open heart, I made a life for myself in Los Angeles—a community. Now Ted and I have parties, but not every week. Mostly we gather friends to cook at the Downtown Women’s Center. I share my simple recipe for civility and sustenance as I mark my 15th anniversary in this wild, atomized city. I’d long loved entertaining people before I got here, but it was in Los Angeles that my world expanded, and became even richer, all because of a weekly gathering centered on soup. […]

  • DTLA megadevelopment with three skyscrapers might have to make design changes
    by Bianca Barragan on February 20, 2019 at 5:18 pm

    Olympia might have to cut some digital signs and make balconies overlooking the freeway unusable A hotel and condo project that would bring three skyscrapers and 1,000 new hotel rooms to a freeway-adjacent property just north of LA Live received the backing of the city’s planning commission Thursday. But commissioners are recommending changes to the plans, which have to win the approval of the Los Angeles City Council. Called Olympia, the development would also bring 879 condos and 40,000 square feet of commercial space in a trio of towers that rise 43, 53, and 65 stories, respectively, on a site bounded by Olympic Boulevard, Georgia Street, James M. Wood Boulevard, and the 110 freeway. The towers would be stacked and angled to maximize sunlight, said Paul Dana of Skidmore, Owings & Merrill, which is designing the project with the local firm Patterns. Olympia's desin attempts to avoid creating a visually impenetrable “urban wall," Dana said. Commissioners applauded the architecture—David Ambroz called it “inspiring.” But they took developer City Century to task for one design feature: balconies overlooking the freeway. They’re asking the City Council to require that balconies facing the 110 simply be decorative features that are unusable. “Common sense tells me you don’t want to be sitting outside breathing in the freeway air on a balcony,” said commissioner Caroline Choe. Commissioner Dana Perlman shared Choe’s concerns. “I’ve tried to make it very clear here. I can’t support that,” he said. “I really hope the developers out there hear me... it’s not healthy.” Commissioners also struggled with the developer’s request to put flashing digital signs facing the freeway. They’ve proposed that digital signs planned to face the 110 freeway be struck from the proposal entirely. Digital signs are a flashpoint for debate in the commission, and one that comes up often with projects in the blocks near LA Live. “We have a cancer in this city with signage,” said Ambroz. “Piece by piece, we’ve allowed this cancer to grow.” Ambroz said the piecemeal approval of signs has meant that their aggregate effects in Downtown haven’t been considered. Another sore point for commissioners? Olympia does not include any affordable units for low-income tenants. Though the project's developers will pay $18 million to a city fund that helps maintain and create affordable housing, commissioner Karen Mack argued real issue was not just creating affordable housing, but about creating democratic spaces. “I feel very strongly about having mixed-income folks living in all the buildings that get created in the city,” she said. City Century is an American affiliate of the Shanghai-based developer Shenglong Group. The developer has a couple other projects in the works in LA, including a 40-story tower nearby at 12th and Grand, and a mixed-use complex in Koreatown. Downtown LA megaproject could include a hotel, less housing [Curbed LA] Larger development now planned for Koreatown lot near Southwestern Law School [Curbed LA […]

Curbed LA - All Love where you live

  • Beloved Bob Baker Marionette Theater to reopen in Highland Park this fall
    by Bianca Barragan on February 20, 2019 at 9:29 pm

    The new home—a former theater—will be inspired by decades-old sketches The landmark Bob Baker Marionette Theater will reopen in a new brick-and-mortar location this fall, theater representatives said Tuesday. The new marionette theater will be housed in a former theater and Korean church on York Boulevard in Highland Park. The theater left its longtime Westlake home in November. The building that has housed the theater for more than five decades is slated to be demolished at an unknown date to make way for a mixed-use development. The theater was offered a space in the new project but decided to strike out on its own. “This was the space where you could pretty much walk in and see it right away,” the theater’s executive director and lead puppeteer Alex Evans told the Los Angeles Times. “We don’t have to change much to make it feel Bob Baker.” Architecture firm Escher GuneWardena has signed on to help renovate the Highland Park theater for its new tenant. The building, which was built in the 1920s, has a few remaining Art Deco touches that theater leadership is excited to incorporate into the new theater. “We’ve done [performances] in a box for 55 years,” Evans told the Times. “There’s moldings on the doorways here. That’s more than we had in the other theater.” With its bright red curtains and prolific tinsel, the original marionette theater will be a hard act to follow, but the future home of the Bob Baker Marionette Theater will be based on “original and unrealized concepts by Bob Baker himself,” as seen in drawings by Morton Haack—the costume designer for the original Planet of the Apes—sketched nearly 60 years ago. A rendering by Morton Haack.A rendering by Morton Haack.The new theater will also incorporate “all the beloved features of the current theater, from the drywall to the chandeliers.” Bob Baker and Alton Wood opened the marionette theater in 1963. Both were puppeteers. Baker worked on numerous films, including Close Encounters of the Third Kind, Disney’s Bedknobs and Broomsticks, and episodes of Star Trek, according city documents related to the theater’s landmarking. L.A.’s historic Bob Baker Marionette Theater is moving to Highland Park [Curbed LA] Landmark Bob Baker Marionette Theater will get new home in mixed-use development [Curbed LA] First Look at the Bob Baker Marionette Theater Mixed-User [Curbed LA […]

  • Gorgeous two-bedroom in Spanish Colonial-style Fairfax fourplex seeks $950K
    by Jenna Chandler on February 20, 2019 at 7:39 pm

    The 1920s building is a tenancy in common Here’s a two-bedroom in a charming Spanish Colonial-style fourplex next to Fairfax High School, a prime location for getting the first pick at the Melrose flea market every Sunday. Constructed in 1928, the building is peppered with period flourishes, including tile, wrought-iron railings, and stately wood doors. The unit that’s on the market measures 1,347 square feet and holds two bathrooms, plus a “home office nook,” dining room, and in-unit washer and dryer. Replete with Gothic arches and wall nooks, it has also been modernized with a contemporary kitchen and bathrooms, recessed lighting, and engineered wood floors. The living room opens to a long and narrow wood balcony, and there’s a shared community garden and patio. It’s listed for $950,000, with HOA dues of $225 per month. The building is a tenancy in common. Original tiles line a shared staircase. Gothic arches and wall nooks throughout.Updates include recessed lighting and new wood floors.The living room opens to a long and narrow balcony. 500 North Genesee 502 1⁄2 [Christopher Stanley, Vanguard Properties […]

  • U.S. transportation department says it’s pulling funding for high-speed rail
    by Elijah Chiland on February 20, 2019 at 7:10 pm

    More trouble for the bullet train from San Francisco to LA The U.S. Department of Transportation announced Tuesday that it was pulling nearly $1 billion in federal funding from California’s high-speed rail project, following through with a threat from President Donald Trump to defund the project. In a press release, the department also said it was “actively exploring every legal option” to get back $2.5 billion already spent on the “now-defunct project.” Last week, California Gov. Gavin Newsom said in his “state of the state” address that his administration would focus on building out the train line between Bakersfield and Merced, leaving a long-promised connection between Los Angeles and San Francisco for later. “Right now there simply isn’t a path to get from Sacramento to San Diego—let alone from San Francisco to LA,” the governor said. The speech led many to conclude Newsom was scrapping the project entirely—including Trump, who tweeted last week that the state “has been forced to cancel the massive bullet train project.” In the same tweet, Trump argued that the state should give back all federal money committed to the project. “We want that money back now,” he wrote. Newsom later clarified his position on the train. A spokesperson for the governor told Curbed that the state of the state address was aimed at “refocusing and reprioritizing” the project “to get a finished section from Bakersfield to Merced.” In a letter to the California High Speed Rail Authority, federal railroad administrator Ronald Batory argues that the state has “failed to make reasonable progress” on the project and has not met benchmarks key to completing the train on time. Batory also highlights Newsom’s speech, calling his plan for the project “a significant retreat from the state’s initial vision.” In a statement yesterday, High-Speed Rail Authority CEO Brian Kelly called the transportation department’s decision “ll-advised and misguided.” Kelly said that environmental review for the project’s San Francisco to Los Angeles route would continue and that the agency’s “commitment to delivering the requirements of the grant agreements remains.” According to Batory’s letter, California will have until March 5 to challenge the decision. Kelly says the rail authority is preparing a “formal response” to federal transportation officials. A representative for Newsom did not immediately respond to a request for comment. New California governor hits brakes on high-speed rail to LA [Curbed LA] California high-speed rail from LA to SF still on, says governor [Curbed SF] High-speed rail authority narrowing down routes through Los Angeles [Curbed LA […]

  • The LA party manifesto
    by Lisa Napoli on February 20, 2019 at 6:00 pm

    Work brought me to LA, but a weekly party helped me create a life here When life tilted me from the East Coast to the west, I didn’t intend to stay. I’d lost my job as the internet reporter in a layoff at MSNBC over two years before, and was thrilled to have finally landed a new one in public radio in Los Angeles—even if it meant leaving a lovely apartment I owned in my beloved hometown of New York City and arriving in a new city at age 40 as a single woman. I was so sure I wouldn’t stick around that I planted myself across the street from the studio of my new employer in Downtown, the better to make a quick escape when my new boss, I hoped, would let me go back home. Never mind that the building was as frumpy as the neighborhood was then. The promise of a commute-free life, a killer pool where I could swim laps each day, and a breathtaking view of the newly opened Walt Disney Concert Hall helped me decide on my temporary locale. Eager to meet people outside of work so that it didn’t become the center of my new universe, I started “dating for friends,” accepting every invitation, working my way down a list of the few people I knew in Southern California, as well as friends other friends recommended I call on. I figured a social whirlwind would make the year fly by. One Friday afternoon, I invited two newfound acquaintances for a late-day swim. Barbara was herself new to town; Chris was a native who had recently returned. The three of us sat in my urban oasis, drinking wine and getting to know one another. As the sun set, we moved up to my one-bedroom apartment to rustle up some supper. No movie star could feel as grand. This was not a typical day for a native of Flatbush, or for most any inhabitant of New York. The next week, Barb brought a friend, and the week after, I had a friend in town, and suddenly our Friday gathering had become a ritual. Each week, we’d add to our growing group of friends by inviting others with whom we collided along the way. Some would balk at driving to Downtown; some seemed disappointed when they arrived that the place they were visiting wasn’t a sweeping loft. Others were as hungry for community as we were, and didn’t care. When people asked what they could bring, or if they could bring a friend, we learned to say, “Bring what looks good” and “Bring whomever you’d like.” Sometimes the newbies wound up coming back each week, and we’d never again see the person who’d brought them. One regular started to use the gatherings to test out potential dates. If they were prissy enough to hesitate at the location or the shoes-off policy, they were out. If they got it, they might just be his kind of woman. One week, after a visitor arrived with the fixings for fajitas and headed for the stove in my tiny kitchen, it became clear that an all-out potluck situation wasn’t really feasible in the space I had. Each Friday morning before work, I’d start a crock-pot soup or chili of some sort, with an edge toward vegetarian, so as to please as many comers as possible. After my college friend, Liz, turned me on to (the now sadly defunct) Surfas, I bought a baker’s dozen of plates, and bowls, and mugs, and utensils. Each Friday typically started with four bottles of wine I’d bought during my weekly grocery run, amplified by a rosé or bubbly brought by Barb and a lush red Chris knew was my personal favorite. Some weeks a dozen more bottles walked in the door. Other weeks, more cheese and crackers or beer arrived than anything else. Some weeks there were just enough people to gather around the old oak table that had trekked around with me since early in my career. Other weeks, 40 people trailed in and out till midnight. On nights the Dodgers played at home, whoever was around would gather in the bedroom for a view of the fireworks display at game’s end. (The stadium view was blocked in the living room.) Always, there managed to be enough food and booze to sate everyone. Community was what most of us were hungering for. Fretting about quantity and tableware and the guest list and other things that paralyze so many people from opening up their homes was not part of our Friday night tradition. “Martha Stewart would not approve,” someone once said of our parties, and that made me proud. This this was my kind of modern family—without the pretense of a salon, nor the intensity of a religion ritual. A gathering of humans in a world filled with fascinating and yet often lonely people, huddling in their own isolated spaces, craving fellowship. The details weren’t as important as the greater whole—random connections, unexpected discussions with people you didn’t know or whom you’d met a few weeks before, no networking or agenda. In an age of airbrushed perfection and neurotic phobias about looking perfect for Instagram, here we were, hanging out, week after week—a modern family. Just as potlucks wouldn’t work, I also decided that keeping a list or sending out an email was against the spirit of the the gathering. (Plus, it was a tedious detail.) People just learned each week to show up at Apartment 1837. When I announced a six-week hiatus to volunteer to help start a radio station in Asia, I was flattered that the regulars resolved to keep the party going elsewhere—and I myself started having a party in my short-term rental in Bhutan. An invitation to our Friday night typically elicited one of two reactions: The skeptic was quick with disapproval. “Every week? Isn’t that expensive/exhausting/too much to clean up? What do you do if you’re not in the mood?” To which I’d respond, “Kids and spouses are 24/7,” to make the point that once-a-week chaos seemed nothing in comparison to what some consider traditional family life. This this was my kind of modern family—without the pretense of a salon, nor the intensity of a religion ritual. A gathering of humans in a world filled with fascinating and yet often lonely people, huddling in their own isolated spaces, craving fellowship. As life does and should, it marched on: Barb eventually left town, and Chris moved away too. I met a man at the nearby Central Library. He started coming to the parties. We’ve lived together in a larger unit here for quite some time now. Over eight years, with an open door and open heart, I made a life for myself in Los Angeles—a community. Now Ted and I have parties, but not every week. Mostly we gather friends to cook at the Downtown Women’s Center. I share my simple recipe for civility and sustenance as I mark my 15th anniversary in this wild, atomized city. I’d long loved entertaining people before I got here, but it was in Los Angeles that my world expanded, and became even richer, all because of a weekly gathering centered on soup. […]

  • DTLA megadevelopment with three skyscrapers might have to make design changes
    by Bianca Barragan on February 20, 2019 at 5:18 pm

    Olympia might have to cut some digital signs and make balconies overlooking the freeway unusable A hotel and condo project that would bring three skyscrapers and 1,000 new hotel rooms to a freeway-adjacent property just north of LA Live received the backing of the city’s planning commission Thursday. But commissioners are recommending changes to the plans, which have to win the approval of the Los Angeles City Council. Called Olympia, the development would also bring 879 condos and 40,000 square feet of commercial space in a trio of towers that rise 43, 53, and 65 stories, respectively, on a site bounded by Olympic Boulevard, Georgia Street, James M. Wood Boulevard, and the 110 freeway. The towers would be stacked and angled to maximize sunlight, said Paul Dana of Skidmore, Owings & Merrill, which is designing the project with the local firm Patterns. Olympia's desin attempts to avoid creating a visually impenetrable “urban wall," Dana said. Commissioners applauded the architecture—David Ambroz called it “inspiring.” But they took developer City Century to task for one design feature: balconies overlooking the freeway. They’re asking the City Council to require that balconies facing the 110 simply be decorative features that are unusable. “Common sense tells me you don’t want to be sitting outside breathing in the freeway air on a balcony,” said commissioner Caroline Choe. Commissioner Dana Perlman shared Choe’s concerns. “I’ve tried to make it very clear here. I can’t support that,” he said. “I really hope the developers out there hear me... it’s not healthy.” Commissioners also struggled with the developer’s request to put flashing digital signs facing the freeway. They’ve proposed that digital signs planned to face the 110 freeway be struck from the proposal entirely. Digital signs are a flashpoint for debate in the commission, and one that comes up often with projects in the blocks near LA Live. “We have a cancer in this city with signage,” said Ambroz. “Piece by piece, we’ve allowed this cancer to grow.” Ambroz said the piecemeal approval of signs has meant that their aggregate effects in Downtown haven’t been considered. Another sore point for commissioners? Olympia does not include any affordable units for low-income tenants. Though the project's developers will pay $18 million to a city fund that helps maintain and create affordable housing, commissioner Karen Mack argued real issue was not just creating affordable housing, but about creating democratic spaces. “I feel very strongly about having mixed-income folks living in all the buildings that get created in the city,” she said. City Century is an American affiliate of the Shanghai-based developer Shenglong Group. The developer has a couple other projects in the works in LA, including a 40-story tower nearby at 12th and Grand, and a mixed-use complex in Koreatown. Downtown LA megaproject could include a hotel, less housing [Curbed LA] Larger development now planned for Koreatown lot near Southwestern Law School [Curbed LA […]

  • LA is losing thousands of affordable apartments for lower-income residents
    by Elijah Chiland on February 19, 2019 at 9:18 pm

    Most affordable apartments are only guaranteed to stay that way for a few decades Many of LA’s affordable apartments are disappearing, according to a new report from the California Housing Partnership. The organization, which was created by the state to monitor and preserve California’s supply of affordable housing, finds that between 1997 and last year, 5,256 affordable units in Los Angeles County were converted to market rate, meaning that tenants living there no longer benefit from rental subsidies or reduced rent prices. That’s over one-third of the 15,044 affordable units no longer affordable statewide. Los Angeles lost more units than any other county in California. It’s only a small portion of the nearly 100,000 that now exist in LA, but the authors of the report find that another 12,121 affordable homes are now “at risk.” “Given California’s existing shortage of 1.5 million homes for extremely low-income and very low-income renters, it is clear that failing to preserve California’s affordable homes is not an option and that state and local action is needed urgently,” the report says. In LA County, where roughly half of renters devote more than 35 percent of their income toward monthly rental payments, a healthy supply of affordable housing is critical to the economic survival of lower-earning residents. Jennifer Hark-Dietz, executive director of People Assisting the Homeless, tells Curbed that tenants benefitting from reduced rents are far more likely to become homeless when they can no longer afford monthly payments. “Every unit lost is really detrimental to the success of ending homelessness,” she says. “If [residents] do fall into homelessness, then we’re using resources for folks that were stable before—and we know there’s not enough resources available for the folks already experiencing homelessness out on our streets.” Thanks to state grants and ballot measures, the city of Los Angeles has more than $1 billion to spend on construction of new affordable housing over the next decade. Hark-Dietz says that losing existing units could lessen the impact of that investment. Most affordable homes in LA are kept at low prices through contracts or agreements with set time limits. As the report notes, units can be “lost” when those deals expire. In many cases, affordable units are built through the federal Low-income Housing Tax Credit program, which grants generous tax breaks to developers who agree to offer some or all of a building’s units to low-income tenants. But those tax credits dry up after 10 years, and owners of older buildings are allowed to convert units to market rate after 30 years California now requires that buildings financed through tax credits remain affordable for 55 years, but at least 14 Los Angeles developments built in the 1980s and early 1990s have shorter-term affordability agreements that will soon expire. Other properties are kept affordable through rental subsidies, usually issued by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. These are also attached to contracts with expiration dates. If building owners don’t renew these agreements, they are then free to raise rents to levels higher than what tenants are able to pay. In many cases building owners do renew agreements or property owners simply continue to offer affordable rents (many, but not all, affordable units are owned or operated by nonprofits committed to providing housing at low rates). But the authors of the report suggest that local leaders should take steps to guarantee housing that’s now affordable stays that way—by proactively identifying homes at risk of converting to market rate and working with owners to prevent this from happening. How much affordable housing does LA need? [Curbed LA] Make less than $54,250? You may qualify for low-income housing [Curbed LA] In LA, home affordability approaching an all-time low [Curbed LA […]

  • 66-story hotel and condo skyscraper near LA Live moving ahead
    by Bianca Barragan on February 19, 2019 at 5:42 pm

    Construction could start as soon as next year A 66-story skyscraper planned for a parking lot next to Hotel Figueroa in Downtown Los Angeles appears to be moving ahead on schedule. Called Figueroa Centre, the proposed glassy condo and hotel tower has been quiet for a little more than a year. But now plans for the CallisonRKTL-designed project at Figueroa and Ninth are slated to be presented tonight to the Downtown LA Neighborhood Council’s planning and land use committee. Figueroa Centre, as proposed, would hold 220 hotel rooms, 200 condos, about 79,000 square feet of retail, restaurant, and possibly office space, and 578 parking spaces. The project’s developer, Regalian LLC, is seeking approvals from the city to sell alcohol in up to six locations within the project. Slated to break ground in 2020, the tower would rise in a neighborhood that is expanding vertically. A few blocks west of the site, the third and final tower in the Metropolis project is slated to open later this year. At a site near the 110 Freeway and Olympic Boulevard, a development with a trio of high-rises up to 65 stories is working its way through the city approvals process now. Regalian has projected its skyscraper project could be finished as soon as 2023. 66-story skyscraper would bring hotel, condos next to Hotel Figueroa [Curbed LA] 66-story Downtown LA tower plans to open in 2023 [Curbed LA […]

  • Commission backs 408 apartments, hotel poised to get $103M in tax breaks
    by Bianca Barragan on February 19, 2019 at 3:10 pm

    The development near USC will raze 32 rent-controlled apartments A project that would put hotel rooms, student-oriented housing, affordable apartments, and a new parking structure along the 110 freeway, near USC, is moving ahead. 3900 Figueroa was approved on a 7-1 vote on Thursday by the city planning commission, which rejected an appeal from two local groups and looked past concerns about displacement and the project’s proximity to the freeway. Also called The Fig, the project would take the form of three new seven-story buildings and an eight-story parking structure, replacing an existing parking lot and 32 rent-controlled apartments. When complete, the development would offer nearly 300 hotel rooms and 408 apartments, about half of which will be marketed to students. Eighty-two of the units will be affordable. Because city officials say Downtown Los Angeles needs more hotels, the developer is poised to receive more than $103 million in tax breaks. The plans still require approval from the City Council, but councilmember Curren Price Jr, who represents the area, has already voiced his support due to the project’s “overwhelming number of benefits.” Those include housing for residents with low incomes, the creation of construction jobs, and the permanent jobs that would follow once construction was complete, his associate planning deputy, Edgar Morales, told the commission. But Strategic Actions for a Just Economy and the West Adams Heritage Association, two local groups that had filed appeals against the project, said the developer was only giving the “bare minimum” of affordable units back to the neighborhood, said Mitchell Tsai, an attorney for SAJE. The groups also argued that the project’s environmental impact report should have explored allowing existing apartments on the site to be preserved. The planning commission denied the appeals. The project would rise right along the 110 Freeway. Opponents on Thursday highlighted how demolishing existing apartments, which are eligible for state historic designation, would displace tenants. Mynor Rios told the commission that his family had lived in one of the existing buildings since the 1960s. Rios and his wife both work nearby at USC, but if he loses his apartment, he said, “rent is so high that I would not be able to afford to live in Los Angeles anymore.” A view of the project’s public plaza along Figueroa. Several commissioners noted that the displacement of tenants gave them pause when making their decisions. But commission president Samantha Millman cautioned her colleagues against creating policy “ad hoc” as projects come up for approval. “With regard to... displacement of tenants, all we can do as we sit here today is say, ‘are they following the law?’ And we’ve received a letter from [the city’s housing department] that says yes, the applicant is following the law,” she said. Ventus Group has been offering tenants money in exchange for moving out. Bill Delvac, a representative for the developer, told the commission that of the 32 units, 25 are occupied, and that tenants in 22 of those units had already signed buyout agreements with the developer. Commissioners also voiced concerns about the project’s proximity to the freeway. “Look at where all the open space amenities are,” said commissioner Dana Perelman, nothing that the rooftop lounge area, including a pool, will be right next to multiple lanes of traffic. “Let’s be clear that is on a building overlooking the freeway... Where do you think those fumes [from the freeway] are going?” Perelman and every commissioner but Karen Mack voted in favor of the project. City advances plan to give financial assistance to hotel development near Expo Park [Curbed LA] LA gave developers $1B without ensuring the deals were ‘advantageous to taxpayers’ [Curbed LA […]

  • Cozy Montecito Heights bungalow asks $585K
    by Elijah Chiland on February 18, 2019 at 11:52 pm

    The 1930s house has original hardwood floors and a fireplace This little hillside bungalow in Montecito Heights looks charming as can be, with a friendly exterior and some nice vintage details on the interior. The house was built in 1934 and still boasts original hardwood floors, casement windows, and a wood-burning fireplace in the living room. The kitchen, meanwhile, has been freshly updated with new countertops, stainless steel appliances, and a farmhouse sink. The house has just one bedroom and one bathroom (equipped with classic wall tile and a separate bathtub and shower), but the 856 square feet of living space is big enough for a formal dining room and a laundry area. The home sits on a 5,199-square-foot lot with a large backyard that extends up the hillside, providing nice views around the neighborhood. There’s also a roomy patio space and a tiny detached studio that looks to be in use as an office space. A one-car garage sits beneath the main residence. The house last sold in 2000 for $114,000. It’s now on the market for $585,000. 4406 Berenice Ave [Peter Martocchio, Nathan Keller/Sotheby’s International Realty […]

  • Here are the Hollywood street closures for the 2019 Oscars
    by Elijah Chiland on February 18, 2019 at 8:42 pm

    Some streets are already off-limits for vehicles Host or no host, the 91st annual Academy Awards are happening Sunday, and that means street closures have already begun around the Dolby Theatre, where the ceremony has been held since 2002. The closures began a week ago and will ramp up Friday, covering a wide swath of the Hollywood Walk of Fame and several streets around it. For now, the block-long stretch of Hollywood Boulevard between Orange Drive and Highland Avenue is closed to vehicles in both directions. Segments of Orchid Alley and Hawthorn Alley are also off-limits, while curbside lanes on Hawthorn Avenue and Orange Drive have also been shut off to traffic. Those closures (detailed in the map below) will be in effect until the morning of February 27. On Friday, Hawthorn Avenue will be entirely closed to vehicles between Orange Drive and Highland Avenue. The next day, all of Orchid Avenue and Orchid Street will be off-limits. The Hollywood and Highland subway station will close late at night Saturday, so weekend revelers will have to use the Hollywood and Vine station if boarding the Red Line after midnight. Via the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences Street closures in effect until Friday morning (closed street segments in red).The train station will reopen Monday morning. In the wee hours of Sunday morning, the most dramatic street closures will begin. Hollywood Boulevard will be shut down between El Cerrito Place and Cahuenga Boulevard. Drivers will also have to avoid Highland Avenue between Franklin Avenue and Sunset Boulevard. Other streets, including parts of Wilcox Avenue and Yucca Street will be closed to all but local residents, emergency vehicles, and those accessing businesses in these areas. Pedestrian access in the area will also be limited on the day of the awards ceremony, with the sidewalk in front of the Dolby Theatre shut off entirely. Most of these street segments will reopen February 25, with the last closures ending March 2. The map below details closures on Oscar Sunday. Via the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences Street closures on Oscar Sunday (closed streets in red, limited closures in purple). Make the Oscars street closures permanent [Curbed LA] How the Oscars spent 73 years looking for a home [Curbed LA […]

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