ULI Los Angeles, a District Council of the Urban Land Institute (ULI), presents Transit Oriented Los Angeles 2016: Planning for Transit, Tuesday, October 4, 7:30 a.m.-noon,at Japanese American National Museum, Downtown Los Angeles. This year’s ToLA event will feature leaders in the transportation, planning and development community offering the latest tools, opportunities and case studies. Speakers include City of Los Angeles Planning Director Vince Bertoni and L.A. Metro Chief Planning Officer Therese McMillan in a keynote conversation.
Since the 1880s, Little Tokyo has been a cultural and civic center for Japanese Americans in Southern California. It’s a community anchored by multi-generational family businesses, churches, and temples. One of the neighborhood’s oldest traditions is the annual Nisei Week festival, first celebrated in 1934. Originally planned to draw in first-generation, American-born Japanese to the Great Depression-stricken district, the nine-day long event now celebrates Japanese American culture and history. The yearly bash brings in thousands from Los Angeles and beyond, to enjoy ondo dancing, Japanese floral arrangements, tea ceremonies, martial arts, fashion shows, calligraphy, art exhibitions, talent shows, and more—all free and open to the public!
Sustainable Little Tokyo, the community organization charged with developing a vibrant future for Southern California’s oldest Japanese American enclave, will soon reimagine Azusa Street, a utilitarian alleyway near the heart of the neighborhood. Starting on July 9 - in coordination with the Los Angeles Ukelele Expo at the Japanese American Community & Cultural Center - SLT will implement a series of temporary, physical improvements including pop up art galleries, landscaping and activities.
With all of the pieces to Little Tokyo’s Block 8 puzzle now falling into place, I decided to have a look at Avalon Bay’s contribution at the corner of 2nd and Los Angeles. Their six-story development, dubbed AVA Little Tokyo, will open in two phases. Phase 1 is scheduled for completion by late 2014, providing 104 rental apartments above 13,500 square feet of street level retail. Phase 2 will bring 176 apartments and townhouses by early 2015.
With all of the excitement over new high-rises in South Park, you may have forgotten about some of Downtown’s mixed-use developments that aren’t rewriting the skyline. Perhaps it’s time for a refresher. When we checked in on Ava Little Tokyo last Fall, construction on the TCA Architects designed project had just progressed above podium level. Flash forward to 2014, and both of its six-story structures are topped out, with exterior work underway at 2nd and Los Angeles Streets.
After a brief lull to start the year, construction is once again moving forward on the Sares-Regis Group’s Little Tokyo Apartments. A red construction crane has been raised high above the intersection of 2nd and San Pedro Streets, while a caravan of cement trucks helps to lay the foundation for the future $100 million development. Set to rise seven stories, the TCA Architects-designed project will create 240 apartment homes above 16,000 square feet of ground floor retail and restaurant space.
During the course of Little Tokyo’s mid-20th-century urban renewal, entire city blocks were leveled to make way for modern retail and office complexes, including the Japanese Village Plaza and Paker Center. When the dust had finally settled in the 1980s, a small parking lot between Weller Court and the Kajima Building had somehow managed to escape the process almost completely untouched. Now, after sitting idle for decades, the roughly half-acre property has been enveloped by Downtown’s ongoing residential construction boom.
A dated commercial building in Little Tokyo is about to receive a much-needed makeover. The Terraces, a mid-rise office tower located at 420 E. 3rd Street, is poised to receive a series of improvements which will bring the aging building into the 21st century. The 10-story structure, completed in 1988, is currently 76% occupied according to data from commercial real estate website City Feet. It is home to a diverse mix of tenants, including dozens of medical offices and the corporate headquarters of Pacific Commerce Bank.
In October 2014, the Little Tokyo Service Center (LTSC) proudly announced that it had crossed the 50% threshold in its $23 million fundraising campaign to build the Budokan of Los Angeles. The proposed recreation center, a longtime goal of many community stakeholders, would replace a surface parking lot at 229-49 S. Los Angeles Street. Now, in an article published by the Rafu Shimpo, LTSC has unveiled a new look for the project designed by local architecture firm Gruen Associates.
Yet another mixed-use development is now pushing dirt in Downtown Los Angeles. Earlier this week, Holland Partner Group broke ground on a new residential-retail complex adjacent to the deconsecrated Cathedral of St. Vibiana. The eight-story development, located at 222 South Main Street, will feature 238 apartments above 4,000 square feet of ground-floor retail or restaurant space. The low-rise edifice will feature numerous amenities, including a 247-car garage and a rooftop pool deck.