Blog: Updates on Urbanology

A Year in Urbanology: In 2015 Our Friends Set the Trends

The Toast of Bunker Hill: JSPR partnered with The Related Group on The Emerson, DTLA’s finest for-lease residences. Just a year after launching, The Emerson was filled with “cultural creatives" -- entertainers, gallery owners, entrepreneurs who are the essence of urban vibrancy. A host of sommeliers makes The Emerson their home. At the center of this cool clique is Elizabeth Heuttinger of friendly-chic Otium restaurant, between the Emerson tower and the new Broad museum.The

 

Home Sweet Work: Ehrlich Architects was firm of the year. American Institute of Architects said so, noting Ehrlich’s approach to “classic California Modernist style.” Its latest design is a creative office environment that looks and feels like a residence. At elevon at Campus El Segundo, there are lofty studios, rooftop conferences, outdoor fireplace/TV rooms. Bring your dog. The office condominium project is nearly 100% sold out. Retail too. Next door to the new L.A. Lakers Practice Facility.

 

Preservation Development:40 years in the making, Marblehead is finally a thing. Sea Summit at Marblehead in San Clemente opened in November. “These inspiring homes, trails and nature preserve reflect decades of careful planning – one of the longest development periods for a coastal project in California,” said Taylor Morrison Division President Phil Bodem. The Wall Street Journal depicted Sea Summit’s 116 acres of protected habitat, preserving views and creating public trails.

 

China and Climate Change: Climate breakthroughs included the Paris treaty and U.S. and China agreeing to lower carbon emissions. The design world was ahead of them with an historic commitment among 52 design firms working in China to design to low carbon standards. Cuningham Group Architecture has long been a leader here, organizing the Themed Entertainment Sustainability Summit among the top theme park developers working in China.
 

Largest New Community, Fastest Internet:Ontario unveiled SoCal’s first masterplan with ultra-high bandwidth data. As with the Google Fiber cities outside of Cali, gigabit living means lightning-fast downloads and future-proofed homes. Homeowners pay directly through their HOA (at reduced rates). The L.A.Times wrote about it. CBS2 broadcast it. Ontario Ranch is built by some of the country’s best homebuilders, including Brookfield Residential.

 

 

    

 

 

Silicon Beach Waves: Urban coolness inundated Playa Vista: Mayor Garcetti trumpeted the new Runway retail. Yahoo moved into its new HQ. Google planned its own move. Maltzan Architecture designed the new Brickyard creative space. Gensler hacked an older building, which nabbed new tenants (including Jessica Alba’s Honest Company). Culver City expanded transit service and connected with Expo Rail. And Brookfield Residential opened two stunning, vertically sleek neighborhoods

 

Props to Pardee Properties: Tami Pardee is #1 in Los Angeles, selling over $2 billion of residential and commercial properties. And #17 in the U.S., says Real Trends/Wall Street Journal. But forget the haughty stereotype of celebri-brokers. Tami is about community commitment. Pardee Properties’ Giving Back program directs 10% net sale proceeds to essential charities: Over $750,000 has gone primarily to needy neighborhoods. JSPR worked with CBS2 on two stories “Tami’s Tips” for renters, and "When is the Right Time to Buy?"

 

Huge Explosion in the Arts District: Investor’s Business Daily covered it: $2 billion of institutional funds blowing-up the east end of DTLA. The boom included “curated” retail (as in ABC7’s Eye on L.A.) at the Michael Maltzan-designed One Santa Fe community. The Arts District became L.A.’s art and architecture center: Hennessey & Ingalls bookstore moves to OSF from Santa Monica. Hauser, Wirth & Schimmel museum opens in March a block away. Did we mention One Santa Fe took top honors in AIA-LA’s 2015 Design Awards, and launched L.A.'s largest private bike share program

 

Foodie Districts: Anaheim now claims the world stage for more than Disney. The delicious urbanism of the Packing House food hall and nearby Center Street and their creators – City of Anaheim and LAB Holding – transformed the city’s downtown and were huge hits in the Wall Street Journal and at Urban Land Institute's international Fall Meeting. 

 

At the Center of Real Estate Trends: Led by Director Stuart Gabriel, UCLA Ziman for Real Estate is the voice of knowledge in scores of media stories per year. Through its Economic Letter, the Ziman Center released groundbreaking research and analysi. Most recently, “Will Airbnb Go the Way of Napster?” detailed how the home-rental company can shift from a “disruptor” to a partner. Meanwhile, CBS2 featured Gabriel discussing when is the best time to refinance.

 

KFA: The Next 40 Years: Killefer Flammang Architects' adaptive-reuse work reshaped Los Angeles, including historic landmarks Eastern Columbia building and Ace HotelAnd yet, 75% of KFA’s work is new-construction, including in the fast-moving worlds of hospitality, residential, transit-oriented development and creative office. The firm celebrated its 40th anniversary and will soon announce bold 2016 news.

 

JSPR is grateful to its friends for an abundantly exciting year. We have the joy of working with the best creative partners in SoCal, including Urban Land Institute, InterCommunications, Greenhaus, Air Condition, Polaris Pacific, Hayes Martin & Associates, Hexa, Alexandria Abramian, Gunn Jerkins, Kulli Marketing, Salt&PR, Downtown Breakfast Club, White Oak Communications, Casey & Sayre, Mike Hoye Public Relations, Rachel Forman, Urbana, Balcony Press, Michelle Moreno and many more. Forgive us if we neglected any of you. But thank you all!

 

 

Home Base for Silicon Beach

Trevion, a new neighborhood in Playa Vista, by Brookfield Residential.

Trevion, a new neighborhood in Playa Vista, by Brookfield Residential.

On February 22, 2014 Playa Vista officially continues its history of innovation with the opening of six new neighborhoods. These are the first of an eventual 2,800 new homes. The new neighborhoods include architectural advances unique to Los Angeles, yet designed precisely for Playa Vista’s Westside setting. The community is especially suited to residents who also work at its red-hot commercial campus.

This “home base” for Silicon Beach already includes YouTube Space L.A. and 72andSunny (Ad Week’s Agency of the Year), with more tech and creative firms continually flocking here… like fowl to Playa Vista’s restored wetlands. Community highlights arriving within the year include Runway (with Whole Foods, restaurants and theaters).

Media are taking notice of the completion of one of L.A.’s best urban masterplans. The Hollywood Reporter’s Alexandria Abramian broke the news last month. And this week L.A. Business Journal’s Bethany Firnhaber has a complete rundown of Playa’s final phase.

Here is the complete LA Business Journal story (for those of you without a subscription):

 

Playa Vista In Home Stretch

Real Estate: Developers launch the project’s final phase.

By BETHANY FIRNHABER

Monday, February 10, 2014

Nearly four decades after developers first began dreaming up plans for an idyllic L.A. community near the beach called Playa Vista, construction there has begun in earnest on its second and final phase.

Thousands of homes are in early stages of construction, with the sales effort for the master-planned community, which is nestled between Westchester and Marina del Rey, slated to begin later this month. The mix of single-family homes, condominiums, apartments and senior living facilities, will bring an additional 2,800 residential units to Playa Vista. The majority of the first phase, with 3,100 units, was completed six years ago.

Canadian homebuilder Brookfield Residential Properties Inc., which in 2012 bought Playa Vista developer Playa Capital Co. for about $250 million, will build two of six total for-sale communities. One, called Trevion, will offer the largest and most expensive options in Playa Vista, with a series of two- and three-story detached homes with small private yards and two-car garages. The other, dubbed Camden, will offer the smallest and least expensive floor plans in a series of sixplex condominium buildings, also with private two-car garages.

While Brookfield Residential has held on to some parcels, it has sold off pieces of the sprawling site, once owned by Howard Hughes, to KB Home of Westwood, Irvine Co. and Tri Pointe Homes of Irvine, Lincoln Property Co. of Dallas and the Los Angeles Jewish Home of Reseda, all of which have begun developments.

Marc Huffman, vice president of planning and entitlements for Brookfield Residential, said the homes are a necessary component of the overall plan for Playa Vista, which aims to provide residents a unified live-work community. Covering roughly two-thirds of the site’s developable area, the nearly 6,000 homes will complement approximately 3 million square feet of office space already built at the east end of the project, including the Hercules Campus and the Bluffs at Playa Vista. Those Class A office campuses have become home to technology companies such as YouTube, Facebook and Belkin. And so many ad agencies have moved into the area that people are beginning to refer to it as a mini-Madison Avenue, as reported in the Business Journal’s Jan. 6 issue. Employees at those companies are squarely in developers’ sights.

“West L.A. is very jobs rich; you’ve got something like three jobs for every housing unit out here,” Huffman said. “People who want to live closer to where they work can’t, so we’re making that possible.”

Hughes history

Efforts to develop Playa Vista on what was then the largest undeveloped plot of land in the city of Los Angeles began in 1978, just two years after Hughes’ death. The 1,076-acre expanse of oceanside property, largely grassy wetlands, was where Hughes built his aerospace empire, including the legendary Spruce Goose jumbo jet.

In the years that followed, the site passed through the hands of a series of developers, from Maguire Thomas Partners to Playa Capital – a venture of Morgan Stanley, Goldman Sachs and Oaktree Capital headed by current Los Angeles Police Commission President Steve Soboroff – which was sold in 2012 to Brookfield. Previous owners’ plans were stymied by both poor economic times as well as lawsuits and protests by environmentalists who worried about wildlife, native tribes who worried about ancient burial sites and residents who worried about traffic, to name a few.

Construction on Playa Vista’s Phase 1 finally began in 2001 and the majority was completed in 2008. Six years later, Phase 2 is under way.

Alison Banks, marketing director for Brookfield Residential, said plans for the second wave of homes to be built in Playa Vista evolved over the years as the development company recognized that the community was changing. The first wave of residents to move into Playa Vista largely consisted of single people, childless couples and empty-nesters. Now, the wide sweeping streets are dotted with parents pushing young children in strollers.

“When people first moved in here, they had dogs, but most didn’t have kids,” she said. “But we’ve had a baby boom here over the last five years and now there are families on their third child.”

While housing options in Phase 1 included smaller one- and two-bedroom condominiums, apartments and homes, Phase 2 will put more emphasis on detached single-family homes with three- and four-bedrooms.

With options coming in at less than $590 a square foot, the housing in the latest phase will be above Los Angeles County’s median price but still below that of most nearby Westside communities.

The smallest, least expensive single-family option, in a residential development by Tri Pointe called Woodson, will start around $1.2 million, or about $561 a square foot. The smallest and least expensive condo option, in Brookfield Residential’s Camden project, will start around $950,000, or about $593 a square foot.

By comparison, in Venice, a hot Silicon Beach market a short jaunt north of Playa Vista, the median square-foot price of the 27 single-family homes sold in December was $955; the median square-foot price of the three condominiums sold in that period was $613, according to Seattle brokerage services firm Redfin. In Westchester, which borders Playa Vista to the south, home prices are significantly lower. The median square-foot price of 26 single-family homes sold there in December was about $489, with the median square-foot price of six condominiums about $305.

Banks said Playa Vista offers an independent small-town feel neighboring communities might lack. In addition to having its own ZIP code, Playa Vista has its own school, fire station, parks and a free shuttle service to and from the beach. Furthermore, Lincoln Property is expected to open Runway, a 220,000-square-foot retail center with a Whole Foods, a nine-screen Cineplex movie theater and at last five restaurants, before the end of the year.

“In the morning you can see hundreds of little kids streaming across the street to the school with their mom and dad on their little scooters, which they just lean up against the bike rack without even locking it,” she said. “We’re in the city, yet we’ve got sweet, small-town charms.”