Mid-City residential project gets a Googie-style redesign

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It’s part of a plan to preserve elements of a 1960s-era hamburger stand

The developer of a residential project planned for Mid-City told the Los Angeles City Council’s Planning and Land Use Management Committee yesterday that the new development would integrate key parts of a 1960s-era hamburger stand currently at the project site.

An updated rendering of the building shows the restaurant’s Googie-style architecture has influenced the design of the whole project, with wavy lines and a festive color scheme adorning the entire structure.

Earlier this year, Councilmember Paul Koretz led an effort to landmark the Pico Boulevard burger stand—once an Orange Julius and now home to LA Burger—in order to save it from demolition.

However, on Tuesday, Faisal Alserri, senior planning deputy for Koretz, told the PLUM Committee that the councilmember had reached a compromise with developer Matt Nelson to preserve some of the stand’s most recognizable features. Those include its zigzagging roof and eye-catching sign, which will both be incorporated into a reconstructed restaurant space at the ground level of the new building.

In an emailed statement, Alserri tells Curbed that Koretz also asked Nelson to incorporate some of the building’s Googie flair into the wider project.

Nelson told the committee Tuesday that he had consulted with Armet Davis Newlove, the architecture firm that designed the hamburger stand, on the new building’s design.

LA Burgercity planning department
The project’s original design was far less attention-grabbing than the updated look.

Aesthetic features of the proposed structure now include sloping overhangs, folding fan-style balconies, and unusual shapes distributed throughout the facade.

Alserri says the new design “will highlight the Orange Julius style and hopefully raise awareness of this type of colorful geometric architecture in LA’s history.”

The new six-story building will bring 48 units of housing to the area. It was approved by the planning department in September.

The PLUM Committee, meanwhile, rejected a nomination to landmark the former Orange Julius Tuesday—with the developer’s assurance that elements would be included in the new project. Nelson told the committee that LA Burger would continue to operate the restaurant in the new development.

Dazzling 1970s Palm Springs oasis seeks $1.45M

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Sunken living room alert

The desert is hot, but this four-bedroom house in Palm Springs is very, very cool. Designed in 1978 by architect Hal Lacy, it has all the groovy bells and whistles one might hope for in a home of this period, namely a sunken living room, an amazing atrium, and more than one wall entirely covered in mirrors.

The nearly 3,700-square-foot residence is being sold by filmmaker David Frankham, who renovated it, adding Heath tiles, handmade tiles in the shower, and marble and Caesarstone. There’s also a plug to charge a Tesla on-site.

The house sits on an ample site, about one-third of an acre, with plenty of room in the rear yard for entertaining. The centerpiece of the backyard is a pool that, from above, resembles an emerald-cut gem.

The house is listed for $1.45 million.

Updated midcentury modern with wraparound deck asks $998K in Glendale

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Views and plenty of natural light

This 1964-built home in Glendale is perched on a hilly lot overlooking the city, with views stretching to Downtown LA.

Floor-to-ceiling windows in the living room and dining room take advantage of those views. Vaulted ceilings and an open floor plan help to give it an airy feel. Meanwhile, a long deck wraps around the house, providing plenty of space for outdoor seating.

The modern-style residence has three bedrooms and two baths spread across 1,776 square feet. Interior features include cork floors, a white brick living room fireplace, and a recently updated kitchen with modern appliances and quartz countertops.

It sits on a 7,206-square-foot lot with fruit trees and a long driveway leading to two (yes, two) two-car garages. Per the listing, the home has been equipped with new plumbing and electrical wiring, along with solar panels and a drip irrigation system.

The home last sold in 2013 for $671,000 and has since been thoroughly remodeled. It’s now asking $998,000.

Exterior of house with deck
Kitchen with new appliances
Living room with fireplace
Wider view of dining room
Front view of house

Cruise the future LAX people mover in this new video

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Hard to believe we don’t have one of these already—but better late than never, right?

It’s hard to imagine a day when Los Angeles International Airport won’t be choked with traffic, but a new video helps. First spotted by Streetsblog and produced by Los Angeles World Airports, which operates LAX, the video offers a brief look at how the automated people mover will connect travelers to terminals, and how improvements at the airport will fit together.

The new people mover will have three new stops within the terminal area and three outside, including stops at the new Airport Metro Connector 96th Street Station, where it will connect to the Green and Crenshaw light rail lines. The train will operate every two minutes, and it will run 27/7, for free.

The automated train is part of a larger program called the Landside Access Modernization Plan, which aims to reduce LAX traffic. Two other major elements of the plan are a streamlined drop-off and pick-up structure and a unified car rental facility.

The construction of these new facilities will require more space, and the city recently decided to invoke eminent domain to get the last of the property in the LAX-adjacent neighborhood of Manchester Square that’s needed to build out part of the project.

LAX expected LAMP to break ground this year and wrap up in 2023, but with a pending lawsuit against the project, it’s unclear if that timeline will be disrupted.

City committee rejects landmark nomination for Mid-City hamburger stand

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But parts of the building may still be preserved

A 1960s-era hamburger stand in Mid-City isn’t likely to gain landmark status after the Los Angeles City Council’s Planning and Land Use Committee voted against adding the structure to the city’s list of Historic-Cultural Monuments Tuesday.

But elements of the Googie-style building may still be preserved as part of a mixed use development project planned for the property, which is located at 6001 West Pico Boulevard.

Earlier this year, Councilmember Paul Koretz led an effort to landmark the property, fearing that it would be demolished to make way for a six-story residential building.

Koretz told Curbed that the tiny hamburger stand was an example of a type of architecture that is “fast disappearing in LA.”

On Tuesday, however, Faisal Alserri, senior planning deputy for Koretz, told the committee that the councilmember had withdrawn his support for the nomination after meeting with developer Matt Nelson to find a way to preserve key elements of the building.

According to Alserri, the project’s developer has agreed to a covenant with the city guaranteeing that the restaurant’s most architecturally recognizable features—its zigzagging roof, facade, and flamboyant signage—will be integrated into the design of the new project.

The 281-square-foot structure once housed an Orange Julius and is today home to a restaurant called LA Burger, which will stay on as a tenant in the new building. Designed by influential architecture firm Armet & Davis (which also designed classic Los Angeles eateries like Johnnie’s Coffee Shop and the La Cienega Norm’s), the building was unanimously recommended for landmark status by the city’s Cultural Heritage Commission.

But Alserri said the compromise with the developer was the city’s best chance to preserve the building—at least in part.

Nelson told the committee that he’s consulted with Armet Davis Newlove—as the firm is known today—on how to integrate the structure into the new development.

Sunny Santa Monica condo seeks $579K

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The top floor unit offers open living space and a private balcony

This airy little one-bedroom unit in Santa Monica’s Ocean Park neighborhood is just blocks from the beach in a complex built in the late 1960s.

At 699 square feet, it’s not exactly cavernous, but it includes an open living and dining area, a bedroom with plenty of natural light, and a sliding glass door that leads out to a private balcony.

Per the listing, the building has been recently redone and updates include new roofing, a remodeled swimming pool, and fresh landscaping features.

In addition to the pool, the building offers shared amenities like a hot tub, bike storage room, and a parking space. Shared laundry facilities are offered on-site.

Located on the top floor of the building, the unit is asking $579,000. HOA dues are $395 per month.

Living room
Arched doorway in living room
Living room looking toward sliding door
View looking down on pool

City planning for new Pico-Union hotel project

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The 125-room hotel would be aimed at visitors to the convention center

A small grocery store in Pico-Union could soon be replaced with a new hotel if the LA City Council approves a motion from Councilmember Gil Cedillo.

The motion, which was OK’d by the council’s Planning and Land Use Committee Tuesday, would alter the property’s zoning requirements to allow for a hotel with 125 guest rooms.

According to the motion, an unnamed developer has proposed redeveloping the site, located at 2268 West Pico Boulevard, with “a well-known and reputable” hotel brand. The project would bring “reasonably priced” rooms, as well as a restaurant and meeting place on the ground floor.

Cedillo writes that the hotel would serve visitors to the convention center, though the project site, located on the opposite side of the 110 freeway, isn’t exactly right next door to that particular destination.

City officials have been eager to expand options for convention center visitors lately, offering enticing incentives for developers planning to construct hotel projects in the Downtown area. Last year, developers of a reasonably priced 250-room hotel in the South Park neighborhood even offered up $150,000 to study what kind of incentives the city could provide.

Cedillo also argues in his motion that the potential Pico Boulevard hotel would serve as a “catalyst for the economic development of the surrounding commercial areas.” Right now, the stretch of Pico around the hotel is dotted with a variety of retail and restaurant businesses, mainly in older, lower-slung buildings. But as denser development projects spread out of Downtown, that trend could certainly change.

City of LA closes escrow on Hollywood’s Dolby Theatre

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The home of the Oscars will still have the same operator

The Dolby Theatre, the home of the Oscars for the last 15 years, has a new owner: the city of Los Angeles.

Urbanize LA spotted a motion approved by the City Council on Wednesday that authorized $100,000 to buy the Dolby Theatre from CRA/LA, the agency that’s in charge of selling off the properties owned by the now defunct community redevelopment organizations.

“With the CRA’s dissolution, the City had to control the property as the City issued $43.21 million in April 1999 in taxable bonds for the construction of the theater,” says Jacqueline Wagner, a chief administrative analyst with the City Administrative Office.

The city put in a bid on the theater in 2015, and in February 2016, the purchase was approved. The city closed escrow on Monday, and all that remains is for Mayor Eric Garcetti to sign off on the whole thing. (Wagner says Garcetti approved of the sale back in February; this approval is purely administrative.)

There is still $28.3 million in city debt on the theater. CIM Group, which owns the Hollywood and Highland shopping center next door, has a 99-year lease to operate the theater and will remain as operator for the duration of the lease, says Wagner.

Another CRA/LA property, Angels Knoll in Bunker Hill, is also being sold off right now. The city’s received four proposals for developing the lot. Final proposals are due in October and the city will decide later in the fall who will get to buy the property.

Bids were due on August 10 for the Westlake Theatre, another CRA/LA property. The theater went up for sale this year after a 2016 request for bids to create affordable housing and retail on the site and four nearby parcels went unanswered.

Developer Crescent Heights files plans for 70-story skyscraper at 1045 Olive

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794 apartments

The flurry of development that has taken over Downtown LA’s South Park neighborhood is spreading farther south: Developer Crescent Heights filed plans today to build a 70-story tower with nearly 800 apartments at South Olive and 11 Street, says Sara Hernandez, an attorney with the developer’s law firm, Liner LLP.

That’s just three stories shorter than the newly crowned queen of LA’s skyline, the Wilshire Grand, and, at a height of 770 feet, it could very well earn it the title of LA’s third tallest building.

The new skyscraper would be almost entirely residential, comprised of 794 apartments above a ground-floor restaurant, bar, “market hall,” and 13.5 levels of parking. The parking will be divided between an underground garage and an eight-level podium wrapped in apartments “so as to conceal” the cars, Hernandez says.

New York-based architecture firm ODA is designing the tower “to maximize light and air,” and renderings show a big cutout on the upper levels for a swimming pool and shared open space, plus wraparound-cantilevered balconies on almost every level.

Jerold Neuman, another attorney with Liner, says the design is trying to bring LA’s suburban “sensibility” to dense Downtown.

“LA’s Downtown is really organized by a series of office buildings. Even if you look at the residential towers Downtown, they’re sort of replicative of other office buildings in the area,” he says. “This building breaks that mold. This building makes most of its defining elements horizontal in nature, as you would see in residential neighborhoods.”

Neuman says Crescent Heights has not determined whether to designate any of the units as affordable.

The Los Angeles Business Journal has reported that Crescent Heights purchased the half-acre site at 1045 South Olive Street last spring for $11.5 million

Long Beach entertainment complex next to Queen Mary detailed in new renderings

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An enormous recreational center will have ice climbing and a “zip line roller coaster”

Urban Commons, the company that operates Long Beach’s Queen Mary, offered a little more insight last week into plans to convert 65 acres of waterfront alongside the ship into a massive entertainment complex called Queen Mary Island.

On the Queen Mary’s official Facebook page, the company revealed a new rendering of the entire project, as well as up-close looks at a 150,000-square-foot recreational center that will be “the heart” of the new development.

Urban Commons writes that the new facility will be called Urban Adventures and that the wild, wavy-looking building will host a wide range of interactive sporting attractions, including a ropes course, ice climbing, a “Ninja Warrior training ground,” a pair of rooftop surfing pavilions, and a “zip line roller coaster.”

All told, the facility will offer 22 different activities for visitors to try.

Urban Commons took over the Queen Mary’s lease last year and also plans to renovate the historic vessel, updating its 346 guest rooms and giving its public spaces a preservation-minded overhaul.

View looking up at Urban Adventures
Another look at Urban Adventures

The developer may have its hands full; an alarming marine survey published earlier this year found the historic vessel was in need of urgent repairs that will cost more than $235 million over the next five years (only a little less than the $250 million that Urban Commons plans to spend on the Queen Mary Island project).

As part of its lease agreement with Urban Commons, the city of Long Beach, which has owned the ship since 1967, agreed to pitch in $23 million for some of those repairs, but it’s not clear where the rest of the money will come from.

Queen Mary Island is still in the planning stages and will need key approvals from both the city of Long Beach and the California Coastal Commission before moving forward, but Urban Commons says construction could start within two years.

Airy penthouse loft with wraparound patio asks $1.79M in Marina del Rey

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Seriously, though: the deck

Atop a low-slung Marina del Rey building, this penthouse loft spans 1,500 square feet —and that’s not including an expansive wraparound deck.

Wall-sized Fleetwood sliding doors separate the deck from the interiors, which feature 100-year-old reclaimed brick walls and electronic shades. The residence takes up the entire west-facing top floor, and only partially shares a wall with another unit.

The kitchen is equipped with a large island, high-end Viking appliances, custom walnut cabinets, and room for a dining area. The entertaining area is convertible, with a 100-inch roll-up projection screen. Near the bedroom there’s a large enclosed double-closet space.

Last sold in 2015 for $1.13 million, the property is now listed for $1.79 million.

New Long Beach park will trace an old Red Car route

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It’s part of a larger plan to convert a trolley right-of-way into public space

Construction is set to break ground Saturday on a new public park in Long Beach that will trace part of a long-defunct Pacific Electric Red Car trolley route that served the city for the first half of the 20th century.

The 3.66-acre park, called the Red Car Greenway, will span a diagonal line between Ximeno Avenue on the west and Park Avenue on the east, where visitors of the park can easily access the recently reopened Colorado Lagoon across the street.

At Ximeno and Sixth Street, the park will intersect with a bike path, giving cyclists a natural entry point.

The project site already serves as an informal walking path, but the city’s $1.05 million plan for its redevelopment will equip the park with a concrete trail, lighting, seating, fencing, garbage bins, and new vegetation.

This is one of numerous empty lots along the old streetcar right-of-way, and the city eventually plans to combine a number of them into a larger swath of open space extending from Park Avenue to Loma Avenue, where a community garden has sprouted up along the old route.

A separate stretch of the right-of-way to the immediate northwest of the new park has already been redeveloped and opened in September as Greenbelt Heights Park. Like the park that will get underway this weekend, it offers a paved walking trail and drought-tolerant vegetation.

Rendering of the park’s vegetation

Modernist-inspired sustainable community on the way in Palm Springs

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An on-site golf course will be turned into olive groves and walking trails

Palm Springs has already embraced the tiny home trend; now it’s putting its own spin on the push to produce eco-friendly housing by welcoming a 300-acre sustainable community called Miralon.

Miralon will feature 1,150 “Modernist-inspired” residences—for-sale single-family homes, plus townhouses and condos—with solar panels as a standard feature for all units. The development will have a central amenity area with a clubhouse, pools, a lounge, and a gym.

The residences will be built in phases. It’s expected that smaller units will start around the high $300,000s to low $400,000s, and go up to the mid-$700,000s for the largest houses, Freehold California Division President Brad Shuckhart tells Curbed.

The project was originally proposed before the recession by another developer, SunCal. At that time, the development included a golf course, which was built, but never opened, says the Desert Sun. The project stalled, as many others did, when the economy took a nosedive. But it was later revived by a new developer, Freehold Communities.

 Freehold Communities
A rendering of the communal clubhouse.

As part of the new Miralon project, Freehold is converting the existing 18-hole golf course on the property into olive groves, communal outdoor space, and about 6.5 miles of walking paths for Miralon residents.

The olive groves will be harvested by the Temecula Olive Oil Company, and olive oil will be pressed on-site, says a news release from Freehold. The yields of community gardens within the development “will go directly to the tables of residents.”

“Evolving the existing golf course into habitat-sensitive, agricultural open space is a response to the precious resources of the Coachella Valley including its need for water,” says Shuckhart.

Both a golf course and olive groves give buyers what they want: open space.

The Desert Sun spoke with experts and planners who said that the reason golf course-adjacent living is so attractive to people buying in the Palm Springs area is not necessarily the allure of the game but the idea of living next to “protected open space.” The olive groves and walking paths that will replace the golf course will offer the same benefit, but without the costly upkeep.

Miralon’s central clubhouse will be designed by Robert Hidey Architects, the same firm that is writing the design guidelines for the new development. C2 Collaborative Landscape Architecture is transforming the golf course for its new agricultural uses.

Elegant Spanish-style in WeHo’s Norma Triangle asks $1.43M

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Featuring arched windows and a beautiful tile bathroom

This Spanish-style home in West Hollywood’s Norma Triangle neighborhood offers plenty of personality, from its rounded tower to its arched windows and entryways to its fireplace and front porch—both adorned with a decorative sunbeam pattern.

Built in 1928, the four-bedroom home is now making its first appearance on the market in more than three decades, according to the listing. The residence retains period features like hardwood floors, a vintage black and blue tiled bathroom, and a rare wood and glass sliding door.

The 1,834-square-foot house sits on a 3,275-square-foot lot with a small backyard and patio, along with a detached garage that’s been converted into an office space. The home’s upper level opens to a large deck with plenty of room for outdoor seating and vegetation, as well as views around the neighborhood.

Other features include a formal dining room, a bit of built-in shelving, and an updated kitchen with wood countertops and newer appliances.

Asking price is $1.425 million.

Living room with fireplace
Formal dining room
Den with wood sliding door
Blue and black tile bathroom
Bedroom with rounded walls
Upper level deck

New pedestrian-friendly entrance to Union Station moving forward

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The project will bring a new plaza and esplanade to the transit hub

A key phase of Metro’s big Union Station overhaul is moving forward with the release of a new environmental impact report, as The Source reports.

The project, which will add a new pedestrian-friendly forecourt and esplanade along Alameda Street, is aimed at better integrating the transit hub into the surrounding community.

In order to do this, Metro wants to remove about 60 short-term parking spaces northwest of the station’s front entrance and replace them with a new civic plaza. The stretch of Alameda Street fronting the station would be narrowed in order to widen the sidewalk and create an esplanade for bicyclists and pedestrians.

Additionally, the plans call for the closure of the station’s northern driveway and the partial closure of Los Angeles Street in order to create a better crossing for pedestrians and cyclists traveling to and from the El Pueblo de Los Angeles State Historic Park across the street.

View of project site todayLos Angeles Metro
View of project site after constructionLos Angeles Metro

Construction on the project is anticipated to take just seven months to complete and could get underway by 2020.

The plaza and accessibility improvements are just some of the big changes planned for the historic station. New run-through tracks will bring more trains in and out of the facility, while a gastropub is set to open in the recently restored Fred Harvey room. An above-ground concourse for Metrolink, Amtrak, and local transit riders could also be on the way.

Rendering of new crosswalkLos Angeles Metro

1930s Steinkamp home in View Park is a colorful treasure

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The painstakingly restored two-bedroom is asking $790K

This eye-catching Spanish Revival in historic View Park was built as a showcase house by renowned developer Elwain Steinkamp in 1935. Eight decades on, the two-bedroom, one-and-a-half bath home is still a showstopper, blessed with a wealth of fantastic period features.

Among its many appealing attributes are peg-and-groove hardwood floors, stepped-tray ceilings, triple crown moldings, a gas fireplace, scalloped archways, a stained-glass skylight, and built-in cupboards and bookshelves.

There’s also glorious original tile in seafoam green and butter-yellow, and a vintage tub and pedestal sink in Venetian pink. And we’d be remiss if we didn’t mention the original milk slot in the breakfast nook, complete with a metal dial used to inform the milkman how much butter and milk to bring in the following day’s delivery.

The 1,648-square-foot home’s updates include new electric systems, partial copper plumbing, a tankless water heater, and a digital-cable TV antenna.

Per the listing, the house has a full basement suitable for use as a wine cellar or guest quarters, and a detached, two-car garage with skylight and new roof.

On a 6,793-square-foot lot with vegetable beds and fruit trees, the property is asking $790,000.