5 Projects That Are Transforming La Brea Avenue in West Hollywood

Tue, Dec 11, 2012   By James F. Mills   

La Brea Avenue in West Hollywood is undergoing a transformation. Abuzz with construction, five projects are happening within a five-block stretch of La Brea between Fountain Avenue and Willoughby Avenue.

When all five projects are completed, they will add 582 residential units and 84,400 square feet of retail space to the area, plus countless numbers of cars to the already perpetually congested street. In fact, West Hollywood Patch readers in May voted the La Brea-Santa Monica Boulevard intersection the “worst intersection” in town.

Here’s a rundown of the five projects – four will be new buildings and the other a refurbishment of an existing building (with a smaller new building being added).

La Brea/Fountain

The old Jon’s supermarket, a longtime favorite of the Russian community living on West Hollywood’s eastside, closed its doors in May 2011 with demolition of the building following shortly thereafter.

The Monarch Group is building a six-story, mixed-use project with 18,000 square feet of retail space and 187 apartments, 38 of which are affordable units. According to Jeffrey Seymour, a spokesperson for the project, the estimated completion date is December 2013.

Seymour reports that the two-level underground parking is completed and construction crew members are now parking inside the structure, something that has come as a relief to residents competing for parking on nearby streets.

No retail tenants have been announced yet.

La Brea/Lexington

Courtyard at La Brea

Immediately north of the McDonalds and just a few doors south of Lexington Avenue, the West Hollywood Community Housing Corporation (WHCHC) is constructing the Courtyard at La Brea, a five-story 32-unit building of affordable housing. Each unit is one-bedroom and will be approximately 600 square-feet, reports Robin Conerly, the executive director of the Housing Corp.

The site previously housed the Discover Green showroom (specialized in flooring) in a single-story building that was demolished. The Courtyard consists of two five-story towers surrounding a courtyard open on the southern end (hence the name). Construction began in June 2012 with an estimated completion date of September 2013.

Residents of the new affordable building will be determined by a lottery. Applications for that lottery will be available starting in June 2013, available on the WHCHC website, in the Plummer Park Community Center and at Jewish Family Services. The project is being paid for through federal HUD (Housing and Urban Development) funds and the City of West Hollywood’s Affordable Housing Trust Fund.

La Brea/Santa Monica

La Brea and Santa Monica

The former Carl’s Jr. location on the northwest corner of the busy intersection was a magnet for fast-food lovers and, reportedly, drug deals. But the building came down last fall as construction started on a six-story, mixed-use project with 12,800 square-feet of retail space and 184 apartments, 36 of which will be affordable units.

The Monarch Group is developing this project, scheduled for completion in March 2014, according to Seymour. The two-level underground parking is nearly complete with construction crews scheduled to start parking there starting in late January/early February 2013.

No retail tenants have been announced yet.

La Brea/Romaine

This abandoned 44,500 square-foot industrial building on the southeast corner of the intersection (diagonally across from the Best Buy) dates back to 1933, having housed many different businesses over the years, including an auto dealership, an art gallery and a framing studio.

This building is being refurbished for 11,500 square-feet of retail space on the ground level and 33,000 square-feet of office space on the second through fifth floors.

Additionally, the adjacent single-story building immediately to the south was demolished to make way for a new building consisting of 8,600 square-feet of ground-floor retail and 134 parking spaces on three levels above the retail space.

Renovations started in December 2011 and should be completed by March 2013, said Ben Soleimani, the president of BMB Investment Corp, which is developing the project.

No tenants have been signed yet, but Soleimani hopes to rent the office space to creative and/or production companies.

BMB also owns properties on Melrose Avenue between La Cienega and San Vicente boulevards. Included in those Melrose properties is the proposed new Restoration Hardware showroom building at Westmount Drive and Melrose (across from Urth Café).

La Brea/Willoughby

La Brea at Willoughby (La Brea Gateway)The most controversial of the five developments, this project on the northwest corner of the intersection is known as the La Brea Gateway (not to be confused with the Gateway Center, home of the Target store, a block to the north).

The former home of the KCOP-Channel 13 studios, the building was abandoned in 2003 when KCOP moved to the Paramount Studios lot. In the years since then, the facility has been used occasionally by production companies, but mostly served as a unofficial “hotel” for transients and homeless.

The Martin Group plans to build a four-story, mixed-use project, consisting of 33,500 square-feet of ground floor retail and 179 residential units (10 percent which will be affordable units), plus two levels of subterranean parking.

While the existing buildings on the property were demolished over the summer, a start date for construction is not known as a spokesperson for the project declined to be interviewed.

A lawsuit over the project ended in early December according to Lucille Saunders of the La Brea-Willoughby Coalition, which fought to downsize the project. As a result, La Brea Gateway, which the Los Angeles City Council approved in 2009, was reduced in height from seven stories (75 feet height) to four stories (48 feet height) and in density from 219 units to 179 units.

Saunders reports Martin Group has also agreed to widen narrow Willoughby Street by 5 feet from La Brea to Detroit Street.

A Martin Group bulletin reports that Sprouts Farmers Market, an upscale grocery store similar to Whole Foods, will be a tenant.

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34 Comments

  1. Hollywood DoodSun, Dec 16, 2012 at 12:50 am

    cemex is in los angeles, not weho, and they will be moving, trust me

  2. TMSMon, Dec 17, 2012 at 3:14 pm

    Cemex is in West Hollywood. Everything on La Brea between Romaine (north side) to Fountain (south side) is West Hollywood.

  3. districtdirtWed, Dec 19, 2012 at 9:49 am

    “The best way to ensure the demise of a neighborhood is to build and build and build so much that cars are in constant gridlock all the time.”

    That must explain why Manhattan, central London, and central Paris all had such terrible “demises” eh?

  4. voolavexWed, Dec 19, 2012 at 10:46 am

    FYI another anonymous commentor: New York is another Disneyland and quite a bit larger than WeHo. Central London is a mess in terms of traffic and have you ever driven in Paris? Having lived and/or worked in all three cities I speak from experience not conjecture. And further to this: London is part of a Constitutional Monarchy, France is a socialist country and Manhattan is not built for cars and each city has excellent public transport. Sad little WeHo, like the cheese, stands alone.

  5. MeWed, Dec 26, 2012 at 9:46 pm

    take a look at this “under the radar” project to add to the eastside mess of new developments!!!!! http://la.curbed.com/archives/2012/12/mixeduse_fakeout_with_formosa_south_at_the_lot_offices.php

  6. Chloe RossThu, Dec 27, 2012 at 11:35 am

    Actually I was at the meeting for the “Lot” building – as an observer. Last year – so it is a quiet fait accompli from before the deeper madness began. Here is another fine example of mediocrity in design. And CH is all over the map trying to be civic chameleons when it comes to historic preservation and new buildings.Imagine a color changing lizard on a piece of plaid because that’s how I see them when they flip from their opposing stands on what is good to stay and what is good to go and what is esthetic. The La Brea Five are all decidedly bland. Oops – one may not be built. The pre-sold bond money – oh forget it – you know the story. Where are the risk takers who gave us the PDC?

    My overall opinion on this issue is that because the Gang of Five do not care about the East Side – then it doesn’t matter what happens to it. But it does. Because we pay the same taxes as part of the same city. And live under the same government of the same city. Yet neglect, indifference and ugly begin at The Fairfax Maginot Line and continue to the La Brea border. Suck it up and swallow it. But before you do – remember the Kool-Aid.

  7. Nick Garzilli (@NickGarzilli)Mon, Dec 31, 2012 at 12:15 pm

    I am the only candidate for WeHo City Council that actually has a plan to solve congestion with my proposal for a privately funded Personal Rapid Transit (PRT) network.

    These car sized pods will be built above our city streets. PRT companies will pay 5% of revenue to the right-of-way holder (WeHo) for the privilege of giving residents freedom from congestion. They will travel 30-40mph non-stop, using 1/10th energy of a car, powered by solar panels on top of the rails.

    The revenue generated from the PRT can be used to increase rent subsidies, assist our neighbors with HIV, and hire the 3 extra librarians needed to open the Library to full time hours.

    WeHo is a great place to start, and then this network will spread throughout Los Angeles, and eventually owning a car will be a option not a necessity. PRT will connect the East and West of WeHo and give residents freedom of movement. WeHo we will be the first city in the world to have a privately funded solar powered PRT network. Now that is progressive!

    I am amazed that the city leaders can green light development projects of this magnitude without realizing that the traffic near the SM and La Brea intersection is already some of the worst in all of Los Angeles.

    Can you imagine if all your cell phone calls and emails were routed by human operators? Well, that is where we still are with transportation. We need innovation in transport and we need it fast.

    I have been successful in getting WeHo City Hall to consider my plan, but consideration is not enough. They can continue to kick the responsibility of solving traffic to Metro, but how is Metro doing? Traffic is a local problem with a local solution. The solution is not more of the same. The solution is something that is 10X better. The technology is here that will save us.

    That is why in my campaign is focused on “The Legalization of Transport Innovation”.

    Please feel free to contact me at NickGarzilli.com and get involved with my campaign. I need all the help I can get to defeat the powers-that-be that don’t want to see this type of disruptive technology exist.

  8. vanceMon, Mar 17, 2014 at 2:04 pm

    Concerning the La Brea/Lexington Building. This looks NOTHING like what this architect originally proposed. A little research also reveals that this architect has a habit of lofty promises.

    The photo on this blog doesn’t do it justice. I know this is La Brea, but I thought we were trying to raise the land value not lower it. It’s a complete disaster, and the crappy white siding is already detoriating, not to mention TACKY. The building isn’t even complete yet?!

    Someone needs to do something about this architect/developer. This is utter garbage.

  9. SteveMon, Mar 17, 2014 at 5:06 pm

    Vance, you’re crazy. It’s almost identical to the renderings but actually BETTER.
    Get rid of McDonalds if you want to improve things even more.

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