Planning Commission backs 38-story tower with parking for 860 cars in Historic Core

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Los Angeles city planning commissioners on Thursday unanimously signed off on plans to build a 38-story condominium tower in Downtown LA’s Historic Core.

Developer Barry Shy has been working on the project, named SB Omega, for more than five years. “The review process has been extraordinarily exhausting,” his planning consultant, Kate Bartolo, told the commission.

The plans still have to be vetted by the Planning and Land Use Management Committee and the full City Council, but if ultimately approved, the high-rise would replace Joe’s Auto Parks at the southwest corner of Sixth and Main streets.

It would bring 467 condos (15 of them are designated as “commercial” units), 21,500 square feet of space for ground-floor shops and restaurants, and a whopping 860 parking spaces to the neighborhood. That’s 314 more spaces than what’s required by city code, but commissioners said the parking is needed.

Parking will be built below ground and in a six-story podium below the residential floors. The spaces will be used not just by future tenants of SB Omega, but by residents of four old buildings nearby that have no parking.

“The over-parking makes perfect sense given the neighborhood,” said commissioner Samantha Millman.

Some residents told the commission that they, too, support the project having all those extra spaces, because even in transit-rich Downtown, they still use their cars.

“The Historic Core … is mostly adaptive reuse. We already have a dearth of parking,” said resident Blair Besten. “I need my car. I think asking families to go down to one car is reasonable; asking them to give up their cars is not. I depend on my car to take my child to school, to take him to his father who lives in the suburbs, and to visit friends in outlying areas.”

Commissioners were also finally on board with the project’s architecture, after asking for a number of design changes in December. (See the original renderings from 2014 here.)

“I appreciate the revised tower design, and the layout of the balconies seems clearer,” said commissioner Renee Dake Wilson. “I think it’s gone into a positive direction.”

The latest design tweaks also include adding perforated metal screens to the balconies and “vertical” landscaping on the facade.

Architect David Takacs, who lives on the same block as the project, told the commission that the design concept is “an expression of movement” that “comes from the flow of people and traffic” in the neighborhood.

“I think it’ll be a pleasant experience for a lot of the folks that are walking around Downtown,” said commissioner Caroline Choe.

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