Design Review Board approves former Farmerstower project, other new Brookside residences

| June 2, 2022 | 0 Comments

NEW BROOKSIDE RESIDENCES are visible in an aerial view looking northwest from above Fremont Place near the corner of Muirfield Road and Eighth Street. In the foreground, along Eighth Street, there are six new single-family homes. To their north are another ten single-family residences, the “row homes.” To the west of that block is surface parking that is in addition to underground parking, all serving the former Farmers Insurance tower. The tower will house 65 condominium units and recreational space for residents. Some existing commercial office space will remain in the building’s southern end.

Once again, the property comprising the former Farmers Insurance headquarters and its parking lots adjoining Brookside across from Hancock Park was on the agenda of the Park Mile Design Review Board (PMDRB). This time, on May 5, the staffs of the City of Los Angeles Planning Department and a multitude of other city departments seemingly had finally concluded their years-long reviews.

Redevelopment of this property on Wilshire Boulevard between Muirfield Road and Rimpau Boulevard has been in discussion with neighbors for more than half a decade, ever since it was purchased by CIM Group in 2014. The Larchmont Chronicle reported on the early development plans in our September 2015 issue. And there have been many subsequent Chronicle reports as the plans moved (multiple times) to the PMDRB, which had become generally satisfied with the designs in their late-2018 version.

Local review board
The PMDRB consists of local people familiar with architecture, construction and real estate. The board currently is comprised of Caroline Labiner Moser and John LaBombard (Windsor Square), Susan Grossman and Michael Johnson (Hancock Park) and Ted Park (Brookside). In January 2020, the board again heard presentations from the staff of CIM Group and its architectural and landscape consultants. And the board again expressed its support — as did the board, unanimously, at the recent May 5, 2022, meeting. At that meeting, the board was joined in giving its support by the single-family neighbors arguably most affected, who live just across Eighth Street, Jan Wieringa and Taylor Louden.

During the Zoom board meeting, Louden and Wieringa stated their appreciation for the work that has gone into the project and that they look forward to seeing the six new single-family homes built across the street from them, together with the rest of the project.

SIX NEW SINGLE-FAMILY HOMES have their front yards fronting on Eighth Street. All of their parking (a two-car garage for each house and shared guest parking spaces) is in the rear. The top of the former Farmers Insurance tower can be seen to the west.

The PMDRB recommendation of approval goes to the city’s Director of Planning. There still must be numerous other city reviews, such as by a Zoning Administrator this summer and by another agency concerning the subdivision to create the home lots.

Shaul Kuba, who co-founded CIM in 1994, told us last month that x-ray testing and other exploratory work has started in the historic tower. Seismic retrofit work there may get underway in late summer or early fall and is expected to take six months, commencing more than seven years after the original city application.

Technically, what was before the PMDRB on May 5 was a city procedure called a Project Permit Compliance (SPP) review, as well as a Park Mile (DRB) review. There were two cases*, one for each block (with Block A being the western block with the historic office tower).

Block A
The case for that block is an adaptive reuse, subdivision and change of use of the existing Farmers Insurance building’s offices into 65 residential condominium units and a unit of approximately 62,152 square feet of existing office space, all above a one-level subterranean parking garage. The existing façade of the Farmers Building will be maintained, and no additional floor area is proposed. Block A will provide 234 parking spaces located within subterranean parking and the existing surface parking lot.

Block B

The case for Block B is for a small-lot subdivision for the construction, use and maintenance of ten three-story single-family small-lot homes comprised of two detached units and four duplex units (“row homes”) and six two-story small-lot homes along Eighth Street, for a total of 16 small-lot homes. The project proposes attached two-car garages for each home and eight shared guest parking spaces for a total of 40 on-site parking spaces.

TWO BROOKSIDE BLOCKS are shown in this plan view, with the 16 new single-family homes (six facing Eighth Street and the ten row homes to their north) being in the eastern block. The western block will see adaptive reuse of the former office tower to include 65 new condominium units, including three penthouse units on the tower’s eighth floor. Both blocks will have substantial additional landscaping

There will be a total of 81 units in the two blocks of the project. This conforms to the density limits established by the restrictive Park Mile Specific Plan that has governed the area along Wilshire Boulevard between Wilton Place and Highland Avenue since 1979.

*The Block A planning department case number is ZA-2019-2192-ZAD-DRB-SPP. The Block B case number is DIR-2021-6475-DRB-SPP-HCA.

Simple city stuff!

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Category: Real Estate

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