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Cranes flock to project on La Brea

By Aaron Blevins, 11/15/2012

Development is on track to open in fall 2013

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The ongoing development at Wilshire Boulevard and La Brea Avenue continues to move upward, and officials with BRE Properties hope to have the project completed by this time next year.

Construction cranes tower over the mixed-use development at La Brea Avenue and Wilshire Boulevard, which will offer 478 apartments. (photo by Aaron Blevins)

Construction manager Robert Latch said the project has not changed since the groundbreaking in October 2011. It will house 478 apartment units with some affordable housing, a maximum of 19 retail tenants and a pocket park.

“Everything’s going good — on schedule,” Latch said. “We just finished up the parking structure and the retail area, [and we’re] starting the units this week.”

He said no retail tenants have been confirmed, but “we’ve got some good ones.” Latch said residents could expect restaurants, quick-serve eateries and financial institutions to occupy the structure’s 40,000 square feet of retail space on the ground floor.

The building will be seven stories. Latch said he didn’t know what the average apartment rent may be, but anticipated that it would reflect the prices of rentals in the area. He couldn’t specify how many units would be for affordable housing.

Latch said the company has six other projects ongoing, though the majority of them are in Northern California. The company operates approximately 22,000 apartment units. However, BRE is excited to finish the construction.

“Oh, we’re ecstatic,” he added. “This is our flagship project right now. All hands are on deck.”

The project has been five years in the making, and the construction costs, excluding architecture and land, are approximately $100 million, Latch said. BRE purchased the property in 2006, and in 2009, the structures that occupied the property, which housed a Columbia Savings Bank and some small retail outlets, were razed.

Latch said the construction crews have strived to be good neighbors. BRE Properties designed the back half of the building, which will face residences on Sycamore Avenue, with the neighbors in mind, he said. Two-story townhouses will be constructed on that side of the structure, Latch said.

“So, the building actually steps away from them,” he added.

BRE officials also donated to the Sycamore Square Neighborhood Association’s annual block party.

“We’ve had a pretty good neighborhood outreach program,” Latch said.

The Sycamore Square Neighborhood Association, however, still seems leery of the seven-story project. Sue Horwitz, association president, said she hasn’t heard any complaints from residents in the area lately, but some tenants did move after the company’s groundbreaking.

“It’s uncomfortable, it’s dirty and things of that sort,” she said. “But it’s my understanding that the folks at BRE have tried to mitigate that as much as possible. …They’re doing the best they can. I don’t think we have a bad relationship with them. The neighborhood is a very mixed [in terms of residential offerings] neighborhood, and they’re a part of the mix.”

Horwitz said the company had been pouring concrete as early as 4 a.m., but the neighbors had it stopped. She said the construction has also generated parking issues and has left nearby streets messy. Workers have also logged time on the weekends.

“It’s uncomfortable to have any construction of this magnitude,” Horwitz said. “I can’t even imagine living across the street from it.”

She said she was part of the successful initiative to have the project scaled down a few years ago. Horwitz said she is of the opinion that the development will not help the area, as it will double the population of the neighborhood.

“I don’t know what to think of that,” she added. “I’ve never experienced that before. It’s not my preference, but how it’s going to affect us in the future, I don’t really know. How’s the subway [extension] going to affect us in the future? I don’t really know.”

 

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