Blog: Updates on Urbanology

Playa Vista Approaching Peak Silicon Beach

WSJ capture.JPG

JSPR was fortunate to work with Wall Street Journal Mansion reporter Katy McLaughlin on a major story about the culmination of development at Playa Vista. The community's approximately 3 million square feet of creative office space will approach its cap this fall when Google moves into the restored, historic Spruce Goose hangar, originally created by Howard Hughes. Brookfield Residential, implementing Playa Vista's master plan, is filling-in the community's final neighborhoods with dramatic residences that rival the custom homes next door in Venice. And synergy between the community and surrounding entertainment industry (including in Culver City) is also reaching its peak. 

Yes, Playa Vista is approaching its apotheosis ! (Apotheosis: noun: the highest point in the development of something; culmination or climax.)

CNN International Zooms in on Playa Vista: L.A.'s Innovative Neighborhood.

We worked with the excellent producers of CNN International's series "One Square Meter" on this story about Playa Vista, the heart of Silicon Beach. Story zooms in on the robust, 3 million-square-foot creative office campus, its new residences, parks and open space, and retail destination, Runway. This piece ran worldwide.

Silicon Beach Homes Get Apple HomeKit Standard

Brookfield Residential unveiled its latest Playa Vista neighborhood, The Collection. It's the first new hood in L.A. to have smart-home technology included standard. Brookfield Residential COO Adrian Foley spoke to ABC 7 Eyewitness News and the Los Angeles Times about why the company chose Apple HomeKit and how it works in the tech hub of Playa Vista, Silicon Beach. 

LAT The Collection.JPG

A Year in Urbanology, 2016

Jack Skelley and JSPR thank colleagues, clients and cohorts for another inspiring year. For a 20-second highlight reel click below...

Los Angeles Times on Green Development

The latest L.A. Times "Hot Property" looks at new energy-efficient and eco-friendly community design:

At Brookfield Residential’s expanding Playa Vista development, new additions to the community adhere to the same eco-conscious principles as the existing homes’, said Alison Girard, the company’s director of marketing.

The new homes are LEED-certified; the fitness center was built with large windows, which allows the building to be cooled without air-conditioning. Girard estimates that a LEED-Platinum certified home can add up to $30,000 to the value of a property.

Helen Park, who recently purchased a 2,500-square-foot house in Playa Vista, said she was drawn to its sustainable attributes. Although the cost was “a little higher” than expected, it was an investment she and her husband were willing to make.

“I’m in the tech business, so I always look for progressive and new innovation,” said Park, the CEO of tech talent firm UXTalent. “I like the solar panels so we can conserve energy and avoid waste, and that the dog parks have dirt instead of grass, to cut down on watering.”

Farm Charm for Urban Homesteads

The Los Angeles Times Home & Design section published this story including our friends at Brookfield Residential:

At Ontario Ranch, a planned community that will eventually include 47,000 homes, homebuilders have incorporated modern farm décor into many of the single-family dwellings, town homes and condominiums. The community of New Haven, for example, features reclaimed wood walls, optional barn-style closet doors, and upcycled farm tools (tractor gears used as mirror frames in the community’s clubhouse, for example), in a blend of rustic and chic. “The farm motif honors the area’s legacy, but we made sure that it accompanies the most up-to-date amenities,” says Mercedes Meserve, vice president of marketing for Brookfield Residential, which is building several neighborhoods in the area.

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!

 

 

A Case Study for the Senses

2014 saw Downtown Anaheim explosively revive its urban fabric.  In the spring, Brookfield Residential welcomed its first move-ins to The Domain, a community of 100 stacked flats and townhomes. On May 31, The Packing House, developed and curated by LAB Holding, Inc., opened as California’s most popular new food hall and as the nucleus of the restaurant-oriented Packing District. Most recently, an eight-story, class-A building leased its entire 191,556 square feet to St. Joseph Heritage Healthcare -- Orange County’s largest office lease of the year. The City also launched a branding campaign to propel it success. 

last week, JSPR worked with these players and Urban Land Institute Orange County/Inland Empire to produce "Exit Suburbia: Inside the Anaheim Packing District" case study and site tour -- the most delicious site tour ever, since it included all the Packing House vendors. JSPR President Jack Skelley organized and moderated the panel.

The standing-room-only event included Carrie Rossefeld of GlobeSt, who published the below report:

A Regional Experience in Downtown Anaheim

By Carrie Rossenfeld | Orange County

ANAHEIM, CA—The revitalization taking place in Downtown Anaheim contains many elements, but it’s most clearly seen in the Packing House, a modern/retro food hall housing entrepreneurial culinary vendors, bulk grocery stands, quaint pubs and other whimsical vendors. The place, reminiscent of a smaller, more intimate Chelsea Market in New York, was the ideal setting for last night’s ULI Orange County/Inland Empire presentation “Exit Suburbia: Inside the Anaheim Packing District. A Case Study and Tour of Orange County’s Dynamic Urban Revitalization.”

Several stakeholders in the new downtown area spoke at the event, including John Woodhead, director of community and economic development for Anaheim; Shaheen Sadeghi, president and CEO of LAB Holding LLC, which created the Packing House and curates the vendors; Beth Callender, principal of Greenhaus Marketing; and David Bonaparte, managing principal of the PRES Cos. Woodhead said the guide for downtown development here was updated in 2007 to reflect the urban revitalization it is currently undergoing: a mix of residential, office and retail, with two tenets in place: getting people to come downtown after 5:00 p.m. and “We want the public to enjoy this resource—the Packing House—from its interior as well as its exterior.”

Bringing in LAB Holding allowed that to happen. Sadeghi and his team developed the Packing House from what it was into what it is today.

The region is rich in history and culture, and the Packing District is beginning to reflect that. Once an area in which immigrants grew grapes for winemaking, Anaheim is 70% ethnic, said Mayor Tom Tait. “Forty-million people come to this district each year, and the people want local flavor.”

That is what they are getting at the Packing House, which offers authentic cuisines including Indian, sushi, ramen and Vietnamese and French crepes as well as gourmet grilled cheese crafted by local artisans and food merchants. The two-story building, once an actual packing house for Sunkist citrus fruit, also sells non-edible goods and gift items, and visitors are likely to see items as unlikely as a tractor and a linens cart within feet of each other.

Across the street from the Packing House is the Domain, a collection of 100 stacked flats and townhomes ranging from 800 square feet to 1,600 square feet. O’Brien explained that the homes, developed and owned by Brookfield Residential, are centrally located in the District and offer residents services and amenities that include a rooftop retreat and technology prewiring. In addition, they’re within walking distance of all the Packing District has to offer, including the Packing House, Anaheim Brewery, Umami Burger and a host of other community amenities.

Sadeghi said the Packing House offers “multi levels of satisfaction and experience. You can’t just be a retailer or a restaurant—it’s boring.” Basically, it takes a page from the current trend of experiential retailing that has breathed new life into the sector.

Callendar spoke of the rebranding of downtown Anaheim as CtrCity Anaheim, a square mile of shops, restaurants, craft breweries, the Packing House, office and residential developments that offer a sense of place for residents and visitors. She compared it to the emerging trend of people wanting to experience a region—the local cuisine, beer, etc.—rather than a chain restaurant or a Budweiser—“although there are still plenty of consumers who prefer the Cheesecake Factory and Budweiser.”

Whether they’re locals or Disneyland visitors from other parts of the country, this area is beginning to offer both options and a depth of experience usually seen in larger, more established cities.

A Year of Urbanology

Jack Skelley and JSPR thank colleagues, clients and cohorts for another inspiring year. May 2015 be even more awesome! This super-speed video grabs just some of the highlights of the year. 

ULI Comes to Playa Vista

ULI Los Angeles also hosts a site tour of Runway at Playa Vista, November 20. The retail/office/residence experience opening early next year includes a Whole Foods market and Cinemark theaters. Among the presenters at the case study event will be Alison Banks, Director of Marketing, Brookfield Residential. She will contextualize Runway within the dramatic scope of Playa Vista. One of the largest construction projects in California, Playa Vista is building 2,800 residential units – yes, 2,800 — for West L.A., including for the many Silicon Beach, creative-space workers currently commuting from other parts of the city.
 

Urbanology Updates: Life in the Food Lane

Los Angeles Times photographer Christina House photo of Jack Skelley and Shaheen Sadeghi at the future home of Make in Downtown Anaheim.

Los Angeles Times photographer Christina House photo of Jack Skelley and Shaheen Sadeghi at the future home of Make in Downtown Anaheim.

Life in the Food Lane: Along with his clients, JSPR President Jack Skelley recently made the cover of Business. LA Times reporter Andrew Khouri examined the revitalization of Downtown Anaheim – including its popular Packing House food hall, a wine- and beer-making development, new condos The Domain by Brookfield Residential, a central park for farmers markets and events, and artisanal shops along Center Street curated by retail wizards LAB Holding. The area is getting attention from urban-planning and food geeks alike. It is one of several nationwide “foodie districts” where gourmet (or just hungry) residents are revitalizing downtowns. Photo below is from Wall Street Journal reporter Katie McLaughlin’s story on same.

Urbanology Updates: Downtown to Dairyland

One Santa Fe: JSPR is now repping the iconic One Santa Fe. Designed by starchitect Michael Maltzan, this new Arts District landmark is L.A.'s longest building (nearly 1/3 of a mile!), with 438 view residences. Its cool retail (The Yards) is from Runyon Group – the city's most adventurous retail team. One Santa Fe is an architectural mind-blower. Pure horizontality and odd angles render dozens of unique floorplates and views. OSF brings the long-blossoming Arts District to full flower. Just around the corner, former MOCA curator Paul Schimmel and international gallery powerhouse Hauser & Wirth will open a seven-building arts compound. One Santa Fe’s first phase opens in September.
 

Anaheim: If you think Anaheim is just Disney, the Ducks, The Angels and Convention Center (that’s not enough?), then visit The Packing District. It's where LAB Holding and the City of Anaheim created The Packing House. The beautifully restored, historic Packing House is packed with indie eateries. It’s a scene! SoCal’s answer to SF’s Ferry Building. The surrounding Packing District includes Farmer’s Park (with entertainment and farmers market) and urban dwelling at The Domain. Created by Brookfield Residential – and joining 1,500 new homes in downtown Anaheim – this is the residential centerpiece of The Packing District, and a true foodie mecca. Here is ABC7’s coverage.
 

Huffington Post: Look for my monthly reports on design in the public realm. A recent visit to New York City inspired an upcoming post comparing bike infrastructure in Manhattan and L.A. Both cities are dangerously lacking! Most recent column is about how major cities are suffering the worst from – and doing the most about – devastating climate change.

 

The Farm Campus: It was a blast working with writer Jessica Blotter andCuningham Group Architecture on this Fast Company article. The healthcare software campus is as green and innovative as any Google or Apple HQ, but it’s in the heart of rural Wisconsin and astonishingly disguised as a huge dairy farm!


O.C.’s Packing District May Rival S.F.’s Ferry Building

The Packing House

The Packing House

SoCal foodies and retail-istas know The Lab and The Camp. These imaginatively successful anti-malls have taken root in a once-forgotten Costa Mesa triangle. Their shops and restaurants are more genuinely indie and artisanal than in any other development in O.C…. or in L.A.

Now LAB Holding, the brains behind The Lab and The Camp, are back with more amazement, this time in downtown Anaheim. Opening May 31 is The Packing House. This 42,000-square-foot, 1918 Sunkist warehouse has been transformed into a gourmet food hall: a huge, sun-drenched atrium with communal dining surrounded by cafes as well as picnic gardens, orange trees, outdoor fireplace and a building-length dining porch. The Packing House’s public spaces are designed for community events, concerts and movie screenings.

Given LAB Holding’s retail track record and this amazing space, The Packing House may soon rival San Francisco’s Ferry Building, developed by Wilson Meany, a respected magnet for locals and visitors.

The Domain

The Domain

The coolness doesn’t stop there. The Packing House is just one component of the new Anaheim Packing District. At the intersection of Anaheim Blvd and Santa Ana Street, The Packing District includes new Farmer’s Park, more historic structures converted into restaurants (including Umami Burger) and Anaheim’s new residences, The Domain.

The Domain is the residential centerpiece of The Packing District. It pays stylish respect to the classic architecture around it, with lofts, flats, pool deck and rooftop terrace overlooking the Packing House. The Domain just opened its doors and builder Brookfield Residential has nearly sold out the first phase.

One happy new owner is photographer Staci Hart who blogged about The Domain's opening here.

Inside The Packing House, before its May opening

Inside The Packing House, before its May opening

“The Domain completes the excitement of The Packing District,” said Brookfield Residential Senior Marketing Director Mercedes Meserve. “Right next door is, without exaggeration, one of the most innovative and appealing pedestrian and retail environments in Southern California.”

Chris Bennett, director of development for LAB Holdings, repaid the compliment last week when interviewed by the Orange County Register.

“I think [The Packing House] is just an extension of the lifestyle that this is [The Domain’s] backyard,” Bennett said. 

-Jack Skelley

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.”