In last year’s developers issue, we focused on California’s highrises: the most obvious indication that the state is finally embracing infill density over sprawl. Yet in fact, most of California’s density is forming at a much lower altitude, in mixed-use projects within commercial corridors.
Mixed-use projects may not be universally embraced (fears of congestion and disruption of the local character are common), but their diversity and size often significantly bolster neighborhood vibrancy and efficiency while keeping development from spreading further away. Scales and solutions vary widely, of course, but you’ll notice in our roundup of projects across the state that many involve top-tier architecture firms and sensitive urban solutions like public plazas, street-level retail, sustainable design, live/work units, underground parking, and terraced and divided massing—an indicator that development doesn’t have to mean destruction of a neighborhood. Many people point out that locating new buildings on commercial boulevards rather than in the midst of residential areas is the best way to absorb the state’s staggering growth without intensely affecting people’s living environments. Locating them near mass transit is another tool, although that option is still slow to come in many parts of California.
And of all the mixed-use projects we’ve seen, many of the best come from the same place: West Hollywood. Thanks to a design-savvy and discerning planning commission and planning department, recent infrastructure improvements, a clear master plan, a population knowledgeable about aesthetics, and a proactive urban designer, John Chase, the area has attracted top design talent and is home to an enviable roster of mixed-use projects. Most are going up in its commercial districts along Sunset and Santa Monica Boulevards. This is not to say that things have been easy: Just uttering the word “development” in many WEHO circles invites violent protest, and last summer, the city passed interim ordinances limiting the scale of development until further analysis is completed. But this just makes the scope of work here all the more impressive. Let’s face it, growth is inevitable, so we might as well grow the right way.
Produced by Sam Lubell with contributions from Danielle Rago and Helen Te.
Not your usual Walgreens, this project includes ground-level retail and 28 units with private gardens above. The project will be covered with a skin composed of stabilized aluminum foam.
Featuring Moss’ off-kilter floorplates and hard-edged forms, this retail, hotel, and residential project is built around an 11-story hotel with a glazed curtain wall. The smaller residential block will enclose small public and private courtyards.
The project includes a hotel, condominiums, a cafe, retail spaces, and an entertainment venue. The five-, six-, and seven-story hotel features maze-like, projecting floorplates. The residential portions of the project are much lower-scale and inconspicuous, terracing downhill from the site.
This mini-city is marked by large roof overhangs, inset windows, and large bays. The project includes several floors of shopping—much of it outdoors—a parking garage, and apartments.
GROVEWOOD GARDEN LOFTS
With 16 units of luxury condominiums over a 36-car garage, these stacked townhouses are oriented to create two landscaped courtyards: One faces the street, while the other creates a communal front entry space for residents. A perforated copper skin wraps the facades.
8801 SUNSET BLVD
Built on the site of the legendary Tower Records building, this development includes office and retail space, as well as a David Barton spa and gym. The project wraps around the corner of Sunset Boulevard with a repetitive pattern of large concrete facade columns, due to be lined with large billboards.
LA PEER HOTEL & PRIVATE RESIDENCES
The project shows how traditional design can be done in a stylish way, with both Spanish and Art Deco motifs and a variety of scales and massing, all aligned with the street grid in a very urban manner.
The project includes 42 affordable, one-bedroom units and retail on the ground floor. An outdoor courtyard provides a garden for residents, and each apartment will have its own private outdoor space.
The project reflects adjacent residential zoning by stepping down and breaking up the rear facade with private courtyards. The ground level combines retail and on-grade parking.
The 77,500 sq. ft. project features 11,000 sq. ft. of ground floor commercial retail and restaurant, with 40 housing units (33 condos and 7 affordable). Live-work housing units are proposed at ground level.
WEST KNOLL LOFTS
This four-story building contains residential blocks sitting above a continous story of sidewalk retail. Nineteen condominiums are located above, separated by 15-foot-wide courtyards.
This sustainable project contains 20,000 sq. ft. of retail (including a new Trader Joe’s), 304 condominiums, and 76 senior rental units. A public plaza and streetside retail are planned to create a walking-friendly environment.
Best of the Rest
CENTRAL PLACE PHASE II
Part of the master plan to revitalize downtown San Jose, the project, which includes residential and retail elements, encloses and activates a public plaza fronted by the San Jose Repertory Theater.
Including office and ground floor retail, this renovation of a 1902 building uses the surrounding structures as seismic “bookends” for the original building. The new addition is clad in a glass-and-aluminum curtain wall.
This redevelopment of the former UC Berkeley Extension Campus will include new construction and the preservation of historically significant buildings.
JACK LONDON SQUARE RENOVATION
The square is undergoing a $300 million redevelopment that includes restaurants, entertainment, new parking facilities, and Class A office space.
MANCHESTER PACIFIC GATEWAY
Located on the North Embarcadero of the San Diego Bay, the project—if approved—will include almost 4 million sq. ft. of hospitality, office, and retail space.
This development will feature a three-level vertical lifestyle center with over 415,000 sq. ft. of retail and five levels of parking. It will also include big-box retail and smaller street-front shops.
ANAHEIM CENTER STREET PROMENADE
This project includes 500 housing units, plus retail and restaurant space surrounding downtown Anaheim’s main street.
Designed to be sensitive to the neighboring hotel and golf course, the project is located on an 8-acre site between Wilshire and Santa Monica Boulevards, and constitutes the western entrance to Beverly Hills.
The $2 billion plan calls for redeveloping the 1930s apartment complex to include 4,400 residential units, 300,000 sq. ft. of retail and commercial space, as well as 9 acres of publicly accessible open space.
Located at the historic CBS/Columbia Square Studio site, a 35-story residential tower and 16-story office tower rise from a ground floor mix of hotel, retail, and open space.
Spanning both sides of Hollywood Boulevard on a 7-acre parcel are nine buildings of rental housing, with affordable units, public open space, live/work lofts, and retail. The project, which is seeking LEED certification, is next to the legendary Art Deco Pantages Theater.
Located on a 5.5-acre city block, this project incorporates a historic department store. Much of the retail is street-facing, and the buildings include high-rise, stoop housing, and town houses to create an urban ambience.
NOHO ART WAVE
Planned around a multi-modal transit station, the proposal includes a central plaza and an arcade linking the proposed grid of the project blocks, which respond in scale and configuration to the existing urban fabric.
One block from the historic Hollywood and Vine intersection, this 16-story tower won entitlement after a battle with nearby Capitol Records. It includes eight live-work townhomes, 85 residential units in the tower, and 13,500 sq. ft. of creative commercial space.
W HOLLYWOOD HOTEL & RESIDENCES
This project includes a 305-room W hotel, 143 luxury W for sale residences, 375 luxury apartments, and street-level retail.