Los Angeles City Council Tom LaBonge, 4th District, remembers a time when La Brea Avenue offered vacuum cleaner shops, a few auxiliary stores and little more.
Now, La Brea Avenue is practically booming with development, as work continues on at least four projects on the thoroughfare. And at least one other major project — the Purple Line Extension — is on the horizon.
“If you look to the future, you’re going to see some transformation in the Miracle Mile, and the transformation is taking place on the corner of Wilshire and La Brea,” LaBonge said, adding that the avenue will essentially serve as a portal for the future subway stop. “If the street gets hot, the development comes. We just want to make sure it blends in well with the community. What I want to do … is put density near the subway station and preserve neighborhoods that are adjacent.”
On the southeast corner of Wilshire Boulevard and La Brea Avenue, BRE Properties is putting the final touches on a 478-unit, mixed-use project that is expected to “stabilize” by 2015, said Kari Warren, BRE’s vice president of marketing.
“We’re thrilled,” she said. “We are really thrilled with the traffic velocity and the interest from the community.”
Warren said the building opened at the beginning of the month, and tenants are moving in now. She said approximately 200 individuals have inquired about the apartments over the last couple weeks.
“We’ve had really strong traffic,” Warren added. “There was quite a bit of what we see as a pent-up demand for housing in that area. We were really excited to get that kind of interest.”
Named Wilshire La Brea, the development has more than 500 parking spaces and offers “high-end luxury” apartments for a “sexy, modern L.A. lifestyle,” she said. No retailers have been announced, but Warren expects BRE to publicize the new tenants in the next two months.
She said BRE is pleased that the building is nearing completion, and the company is looking forward to the subway coming.
“It’s a great neighborhood. We’re just really happy to be there and be part of it,” Warren said. “It is such a great corner location.”
LaBonge said “not everybody was happy” that the BRE development was approved.
“It’s a big, big building, but at the same time, that’s a big, big intersection,” he said, adding that he would like to see BRE add more landscaping to “soften” the structure.
At 6th Street and La Brea Avenue, officials with Deco Home are developing a four-story, 12,000-square-foot project that will offer retail on the first floor, office space on the second, and residential units on the third and fourth.
Brad Conroy, of Conroy Commercial, is handling the leasing of the new building on behalf of the property owner. He said the company is talking to tenants from London, New York and Chicago, as well as other companies that don’t have a Los Angeles location.
“We’re looking to bring an iconic tenant that would fit in on the street,” Conroy said. “We’re looking for this to be a flagship site for a great retailer.”
He said the building is slated for completion by the first quarter of 2014.
Further down La Brea Avenue, Orchard Supply Hardware is opening a new location near 4th Street. Orchard has closed its Hollywood location at 5525 Sunset Blvd. in conjunction with the new location.
“We are thrilled about the new store, which is ideally located in a thriving residential/urban setting,” Orchard representatives said in a press release. “The La Brea area is undergoing a significant revitalization effort and is transforming into an increasingly pedestrian-friendly street. New residential and commercial construction is underway, including a number of mixed-use complexes featuring apartments, ground-floor retail and pedestrian space. We’re excited to bring our neighborhood store format to those who live and work in the Mid-Wilshire area of Los Angeles, while continuing to serve Orchard’s existing Hollywood store customers in a significantly enhanced shopping environment.”
According to the release, the new store will be approximately 30,080 square feet, with 3,800 square feet of outdoor nursery and garden space. It will also provide rooftop parking.
“They chose our neighborhood because they felt strongly that they could serve the neighborhood well,” LaBonge said, referencing the jobs that the new store will create. “We’re excited about that.”
Another development is being constructed just north of the future Orchard Supply Hardware location, but attempts to get information about the small building were unsuccessful by deadline, as were attempts to find out who will be occupying Campanile’s old space at 624 S. La Brea Ave.
“We’re concerned and we are monitoring [the influx of development],” Mid-City West Community Council chair Tim Deegan said, adding that Mid-City West has been working with the Greater Wilshire Neighborhood Council in recent weeks to discuss the issue. Mid-City West’s jurisdiction covers the west side of La Brea Avenue, while the Greater Wilshire Neighborhood Council covers the east side. “It’s good to see La Brea get attention. It’s a street that’s going to be developed, but the community needs to have a voice in the development.”
He said Mid-City West has concerns about traffic, density and infrastructure impacts. Deegan said the area needs “measured growth, not rampant growth.”
“One way to do that is to collaborate with our neighboring neighborhood council,” he said. “Everything has gone well. Greater Wilshire and Mid-City will soon have an impact working together. That’s the goal.”
LaBonge added that La Brea Avenue is a “pretty active place,” with a variety of restaurants, schools, art galleries and religious institutions.
“It’s the street that people want to be on,” he said.
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