Development soars to new heights in Miracle Mile

| March 3, 2022 | 0 Comments

WILSHIRE COURTYARD will be the tallest building in Los Angeles west of DTLA, if approved.

As the Miracle Mile commences its second century, several additional development projects are in the works in the heart of the Mile, including a proposed revamped Wilshire Courtyard which, when unveiled, will put Miracle Mile on the map as having the tallest building in Los Angeles — west of Downtown.

The planned 2.3-million-square-foot complex features two interconnected, glass-clad office towers, 35 and 41 stories high. The latter tower will reach 655 feet and face Masselin Avenue to the east. The shorter of the two buildings will face Curson Avenue to the west.

Interestingly, the very first high rise (other than City Hall) to exceed the city’s longtime 13-story height limit also was in the Miracle Mile — the 20-story building at 5455 Wilshire Blvd., opened in 1958 as Lee Tower.

A Draft Environmental Impact Report for the project is in the preliminary stages of preparation for the Canadian-based Onni Group complex, at 5700 and 5750 Wilshire Blvd.

The towers will stand atop a seven-story parking podium (two floors can be turned into office space in the future, should conditions warrant). Features include “flexible office space,” landscaped bridges, terraces and, at street-level, a restaurant, grocery and retail as envisioned by prominent Chicago architecture firm Solomon Cordwell Buenz.

The complex more than doubles the one million square feet of office space on the site now, and it preserves the southern sections of the terraced six-story structure, abutting the residential area of this part of the Mile, but razes the Wilshire frontage.

The new complex will replace the six-story, two-building office property on almost nine acres built in 1987 by the late Jerry Snyder and which was remodeled recently by previous owner Tishman Speyer.

A portion of the existing building’s three subterranean parking levels will be removed, while 2,901 of its parking spots will be retained, for a total of 4,650 auto stalls.

The project is expected to break ground in 2025 and complete construction by 2028, pending approvals by the City of Los Angeles, including a zone change and a master conditional use permit.


ENVIRONMENTAL REVIEW is underway for Mirabel, which proposes 42 stories to house 348 apartments, ground-floor retail and an automated garage.

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Another proposed standout to start the Mile’s second century is the 42-story Mirabel that will be soaring to 530-feet when the finished apartment complex is unveiled at 5411 Wilshire Blvd.

“We’re in the city environmental review phase. There will be public hearings …  [which] will take all of 2022, 2023. It’s a lengthy process,” said Walter Marks III, owner of the property and a third-generation developer.

The Mirabel’s Art Deco-inspired design by architect Richard Keating features a sleek, curvilinear, 530-foot-tall tower, tweaked in its design to avoid shadows on neighboring streets.

The 348-unit building (with 38 affordable units) has 15,000 square feet of ground-floor retail and 475 total parking spaces, each with an electric charging station.

It promises to be innovative.

“We’re on the vanguard,” said Marks. “I’m trying to look ahead to problems 10 to 20 years away and find solutions today.”

DEVELOPER WALLY MARKS observes the automated garage already operating at his Helms Bakery property.

The automated three-level, underground parking garage with 407 slots is modeled after one at Marks’ Helms Bakery property at Venice Boulevard.

The Mirabel parking facility will be larger and more advanced but still operate with a basic mechanical system of low-tech gears and belts, items easily found at the hardware store, Marks said.

Three vehicle elevators and seven loading bays will keep cars rolling up and down the three levels. The system, which is a labor of love for Marks, provides safety and ease of use, and saves space, a coveted commodity in the Miracle Mile, he tells us.

A similar public parking system also is operating in the city of West Hollywood.

The 477,000-square-foot building includes two more above-ground parking levels.

As for the historic 1936 Streamline Moderne Sontag Drug Store building at the corner of Wilshire and Cloverdale avenues, Marks said, “We are preserving in place the two street-facing façades while we excavate the earth beneath this one building — which becomes part of our underground parking area.

“Then, we are reconstituting the former Sontag building as approximately the same one-and-a-half-story building such that, from the vehicular or pedestrian point of view, the building will read the same as it does today.

“We’re looking forward to getting community support and holding more community meetings, answering questions,” said Marks. He sees property ownership as a privilege, and one he takes seriously, especially with the 5000 block’s proximity to the new Metro subway station (opening in 2024). Construction with housing, the environment and workability in mind is key, he says.

TOWN AND COUNTRY expansion on Third Street is planned to rise just east of Whole Foods, across from the Farmers Market.

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The Town & Country shopping center at the southeast corner of Third St. and Fairfax Ave. is poised for a major uplift with a new eight-story, mixed-use complex of housing units over retail space and with pedestrian walkways and bike paths.

Developer Tom Warren, executive managing director for the Holland Partner Group, hopes to begin demolition of buildings that are east of the Whole Foods market during the summer break for Hancock Park Elementary School. The school is directly south of the project.

“We want to align the demolition with their summer break,” he said, adding that he is working closely with the Friends of Hancock Park School parent group.

In 2020, Regency Centers, owners of the property, erected a 10-foot block wall between the school and the service areas of Whole Foods Market and CVS Pharmacy to address noise concerns of the school.

The final design is a long way from the original proposal for a 26-story tower, which was thrown out by the developers after concerns were raised by the community.

And there is a possibility of returning a favorite Italian restaurant to the site.

“With regard to Andre’s specifically, Andre’s will be closing as part of the redevelopment, but Regency has been in discussions with the owner and is hopeful that they will be able to bring them back in the new and improved version of Town & Country,” Warren said.

What will be demolished?

“There is a vacant Payless Shoe Source, a wig store and a few other retailers that have been aware of this upcoming project for several years, “Warren added.

The design by architects MVE + Partners consists of a 490,682-square-foot development with 331 studio, one-, two- and three-bedroom units, new commercial space and two levels of subterranean parking. There are 996 car spots with 350 above ground. The project includes the existing Whole Foods market and CVS pharmacy on the western portion of the block, which will remain open during construction.

The Final Environmental Impact Report for this project was released in December 2021. The city is currently considering the requested land-use entitlements, and a Letter of Determination is expected to be released soon.

Once approved, construction is expected to take three years, with a 2025 opening tentatively scheduled.

HOTEL AND APARTMENTS will be available at 639 S. La Brea, targeted for a 2023 opening.

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Construction of an eight-story hotel-and-multi-family mixed-use complex (tentative name 639 La Brea) is set to start in the last quarter of 2022.

The project from Woodland Hills-based CGI+ Real Estate Strategies is a transit-oriented development that has received full entitlements. The complex is set on nearly half a city block at 623-671 S. La Brea Avenue. It’s immediately adjacent to Metro’s Wilshire / La Brea subway station for the “D” Line extension currently nearing completion.

The eight-story development consists of a podium with three towers that include a 125-room boutique-style hotel, 121 residential rental units, 185 parking spaces, 13,000 square feet of street-level retail and a rooftop restaurant space.

The parking spots are on the ground floor and two underground levels.

The project is expected to open during the third quarter of 2023, near the time of completion of the “D” Line extension.

New York architecture and interior design firm Morris Adjmi designed the complex with arched and square window frames to distinguish between the hotel rooms and the apartments. One-, two- and three-bedroom apartments will be offered, with 19 units set aside for extremely low-income households and one for a moderate-income household.

The complex replaces a grouping of one-story commercial buildings. Due to the city’s Transit Oriented Communities (TOC) housing incentives — granted because of the project’s proximity to the “D” Line — the developer was allowed to build a larger building than allowed by regular city zoning. Even more density was allowed because the developer agreed to set aside apartments for low- and moderate-income housing.

Neighboring residents’ concerns raised during city and community meetings included density, traffic, parking and loading and unloading in the alley.

To address some of these concerns, a plaza will connect pedestrians to the Metro station, and property residents will receive Metro TAP cards and have access to onsite car and bike sharing.

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