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Five Mega-Projects that Will Transform La Brea

1:14 PM PDT on June 19, 2012

Hollywood is changing.

People traveling along La Brea Avenue have probably noticed there's a lot of construction happening. Considering that the area has been stagnant for a while, new construction is immediately noticed by anyone familiar with the corridor. And it’s no wonder; many abandoned buildings, parking lots, and blighted areas have been neglected for years.

But now, revitalization is finally upon us. La Brea is gradually transforming from a dull car corridor to a pedestrian-friendly street.

In addition to the “Wilshire / La Brea” project (also under construction) in the mid-Wilshire district, the largest developments are happening in the Hollywood / West Hollywood area, within a 5-block radius, or exactly 0.5-mile span. Thanks to the developers, as well as City of West Hollywood and City of L.A., the projects are moving ahead full-speed. Please see renderings with information below to learn what awaits La Brea within the next two years!

Project #1. La Brea and Fountain

FORMERLY: Jons supermarket with a large parking lot.

FUTURE: Mixed-use project, with luxury apartments, underground parking, ground-floor retail, and pedestrian space.

Note: While many of us were saddened to part with Jons Marketplace, the area was uninviting for most transportation uses. Utilitarian parking, no landscaping, and a nondescript supermarket served few users who are without cars. The new project will make the intersection a welcoming site, with plenty of outdoor activities, and will bring the community closer together. According to the developer and City of West Hollywood, this project will be the largest mixed-use development in West Hollywood’s history.

Project #2. La Brea and Lexington:

FORMERLY: Discover Green showroom/store – specialized in flooring materials (just a plain single-story shop).

FUTURE: Affordable housing project, featuring a modern building, with enhanced landscaping and sidewalks.

Project #3. La Brea and Romaine:

FORMERLY: Abandoned industrial building, with ground-level art gallery (also abandoned).

FUTURE: Mixed-use commercial development, with ground-floor retail, improved landscaping, and pedestrian space.

Note: The abandoned building has been an eyesore for many years, especially in contrast with the upscale retail establishment across the street. Thankfully this ugly, albeit “historical”, building will be refurbished, modernized, and the surrounding area will be significantly enhanced.

Project #4. La Brea and Santa Monica:

FORMERLY: Carl’s Jr fast-food restaurant with large surface parking lot.

FUTURE: Mixed-use project, with luxury apartments, underground parking, ground-floor retail, pedestrian space, and enhanced mass transit facilities.

Note: The former Carl’s Jr restaurant, especially the parking lot, has been a magnet for criminal activities including prostitution and drug dealing. Walking by was extremely unpleasant, to say the least. Seeing that blighted site demolished, to transform to an upscale mixed-use development, is certainly great news. The change will be quite dramatic, making the area safe and welcoming. City of West Hollywood envisions this project to be a true gateway to West Hollywood! It will also complement the existing Target / Best Buy retail complex from across the street.

Project #5. La Brea and Willoughby (aka “La Brea Gateway”):

FORMERLY: Abandoned KCOP Studios.

FUTURE: Mixed-use project, with luxury apartments, underground parking, ground-floor retail, and pedestrian space.

Note: The old site of the former studios offered nothing more than a blighted corner, with dirty concrete sidewalks, homelessness, trash, and graffiti – all of which has created an unpleasant environment for years. Luckily, the new development will completely change the area, making it safe and enjoyable.

All five developments provide an exciting transformation, even though ta small group of local homeowners expressed opposition. They will most certainly give a facelift to La Brea Avenue. The developments will have no negative impact on surrounding communities, but will rather improve the quality of life for all, including local homeowners, by making the area safer and more walkable. Redevelopment is also necessary since La Brea is only blocks away from the Hollywood & Highland complex, visited by tourists from all over the world.

I believe, mixed-use developments will provide not only a much better and safer environment in the Hollywood / West Hollywood area, but will also reduce car-dependence, thanks to the new housing and shopping that will be located within walking distance. This is also known as “Smart Growth” or “Sustainable Development”. Nearby transit hubs (metro stations and major bus stops) will provide easy access, greatly reducing the need to drive.

Slowly but surely, Los Angeles is starting to take shape. Neighborhood by neighborhood, region by region, blight and old warehouses are giving way to upscale developments. Of course, it will take many years, even decades, to upgrade the City of Angels to a world-class city. But gradually LA is transforming. I’m confident, in the near future more mixed-use projects will be built, making the City of Angels a great place to live, work, and visit!

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