Blog: Updates on Urbanology

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...

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!

 

 

The Urban Trendometer

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ULI Los Angeles' Urban Marketplace makes excitement again Thursday, April 2 in DTLA. Please, don't call it a "real estate conference!" Urban Marketplace is the interactive happening where high-level overviews of the development scene balance with grass-roots responses by people making deals and making a difference.

These occur at Urban Marketplace’s famous roundtable sessions: face-to-face conversations on L.A.’s hottest issues. Among the topics this year: Reinvestment and Placemaking Along the L.A. River; the Bioscience Corridor; Sustainable Urban Farming; Solving the First-Mile/Last Mile Transportation Conundrum; Federal Resources for Local Challenges; California’s Cap and Trade Engine for Growth; and several more.

The keynote speakers, however, refuse to be overshadowed. They are urban developers and finance experts, including Tom Gilmore of Gilmore Associates, and Michael Banner of Los Angeles LDC.

The setting this year is at The Reef, the unusual new event and office space at 1933 S Broadway Ave. Register online at ULI Los Angeles

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 Update: elevon

Ehrlich Architects Reinvent the Work Environment: A recent site tour by Urban Land Institute unveiled new office-space solutions. ULI Los Angeles’ case study was held at the under-construction elevon at Campus el Segundo. Attending were community leaders, top brokers and design professionals. elevon allows businesses to purchase their office building – unique in the L.A. area. The design also sets it apart: “There is a feeling of being in your own house, including private outdoor areas,” said Architect Steven Ehrlich of Ehrlich Architects, famous for custom homes around the world. “And they are set within an overall neighborhood context.” Natural light and natural materials are everywhere. Ehrlich’s residential-inspired elevon design has been profiled from Globe Street and L.A. Business Journal to Form magazine. Above is a photo from the ULI event and below an interior rendering. Here is a report from the ULI tour.

Great Streets Wrap-Up

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At the recent forum I produced with ULI Los Angeles, we had an all-star panel. “Can L.A.’s Streets Be Great?” was hosted at Gensler in its jewel-box space on Figueroa Street. An ideal quasi-public setting for a discussion on how smartly designed civic space can boost livability.

 

The below honchos and experts addressed a full house of urbanologists, bike-eratti, transit geeks and enlightened policy wonks (and I use those terms with utmost respect!)

 

José Huizar, Los Angeles 14th District Councilman, discussed the Broadway Streetscape Master Plan which recently got underway. Doane Liu, Deputy Mayor, City Services, City of Los Angeles, offered an update on Mayor Eric Garcetti’s Great Streets Initiative.  Rick Cole, Deputy Mayor, Budget & Innovation, City of Los Angeles, former mayor and/or city manager of Azusa, Pasadena, Ventura – spoke on the wider context of investment, neighborhood ownership of the street, events, marketing, pop ups, art programs and more. Laura Nelson, Los Angeles Times transportation reporter overviewed neighborhood mobility planning in the context of the region’s wider transportation system. Brigham Yen, Publisher and Editor of DTLA Rising, and Downtown real estate broker gave his impassioned critique of the plague of jaywalking tickets afflicting Downtown L.A.; and Melani Smith principal of Melendrez, updated everyone on the crucial but presently stalled My Figueroa project.

 

This week, Rick Cole went the extra mile by offering his presentation to The Planning Report, the influential policy journal published by David Abel. Here it is.

High-Speed Rail Panel: Mobility Corridors

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November 5-7, the U.S. High Speed Rail Association conference comes to Los Angeles. I have been asked to moderate a panel on Transit-Oriented Development -- specifically, "mobility corridors," and how smart planning around transit stations can uplift urban economies. Joining me on the panel -- titled TOD Transformations: From Stations to Corridors -- are Jonathan Watts, principal of Cuningham Group Architecture; Michael Dieden, president of Creative Housing Associates, and Gaurav Srivastava, Associate Principal, AECOM. My panel is Wednesday, Nov. 6, 3-4 p.m. and the entire conference runs through Thursday at MTA Headquarters, One Gateway Plaza, next to Union Station in Downtown L.A. 

The concept of mobility corridors is gaining traction in urban planning circles. It dominated ULI Los Angeles' recent, very successful ToLA transit summit, where Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti announced his Great Boulevards initiative. And it is was the focus of L.A. Business Council's 2013 Livable Communities Report, authored by Paul Habibi of UCLA Ziman Center for Real Estate.

I will also be publishing an article on the topic in an upcoming edition of Urban Land magazine.