Five Mega-Projects that Will Transform La Brea

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!

  • El Barto

    hopefully that scummy ass McDonalds gets taken out. It’s been there forever and is a monument to the disgusting eating habits of generally fat Americans.

  • If these areas suddenly become much more active with residents and retail, then we’ll need better transit access!  If we don’t want all those people to just drive extra cars through the neighborhood, then there might need to be some sort of Rapid bus down La Brea – or is the 212, together with the east/west 2, 4, and 704, enough to handle all of these people?

  • Also, the article says that “nearby transit hubs (metro stations and major bus stops) will provide easy access, greatly reducing the need to drive.”  But the only metro station within a mile of any of those developments is Hollywood and Highland (and it’s just barely within a mile of the farthest north ones).  So there really does need to be improved bus access, and perhaps an improved bicycle connection to both the red line at Hollywood and Highland, and also the future purple line station at Wilshire and La Brea.

  • Alexander F.

    Hi Kenny.
    Thanks for the feedback.
    Yes, I couldn’t agree more; better transit access is crucial to promote better pedestrian environment. So far, we have several major bus lines, however frequencies should definitely be increased (contingent upon federal and state funding). I’m sure positive changes are gradually going to come.
    Bicycle facilities – that’s upon LADOT; they’ve approved a Bicycle Master Plan that would generate hundreds of Class II bike lanes over the next few years. I believe, some major street corridors will see new bike lanes coming up soon (including the nearby Fountain Avenue).

  • RC Thomason

    I wonder why “mixed use” never involves industry?  A lot of old factories or warehouses are converted to trendy lofts or condos, but why can’t (cleaner) industry sit side-by-side with housing, retail, etc.  Has it just never been tried?  A great architect and/or city planner ought to play with the idea.

  • Luxury Apartments.  Luxury Apartments.  Luxury Apartments… Looks like I’m about to get priced out of my neighborhood.

  • Lggust

    Are you telling me that the former location of Jons Market….is going to be able to handle  traffic coming from the west heading east ON FOUNTAIN !!!  And they are proposing a bicycle lane on Fountain at the same time…………Have you bothered to look at trafic on Fountain lately??????????????  When do we fire the current city planner and get one that doesn’t have his hands out from developers along with city council ?????  Yes something needs to go into these spaces…..Luxury housing is not one of them!!!!  And most cities have worked out a feasible traffic plan….Before the problem is a NIGHTMARE….not only for residents…..but for anyone trying to get to these  places…….Whatever happened to West Hollywoods claim of Affordable Housing……oh I guess the developers don’t think they can make enough money that way………..Tough !  If you want to build Luxury Housing…..go build in Beverly Hills or Westwood……..permits a little rougher to get there????? Guess so.They don’t have city council that roll over for a buck and a free party!!!!

  • Lggust

    Nearby transit hubs………who do you think you’re fooling ????!!!!!  Am I supposed to believe that????  I don’t consider a mile ……a nearby distance…………

  • calwatch

    Well, under SB 375, “high quality transit access” just means four buses an hour during the peak period, which all of these areas qualify as.

  • calwatch

    And? Another article today talks about Donald Shoup and market pricing of parking. Why can’t we market price parking and market price housing? If you bought your place, you are protected by Prop 13 and you won’t be priced out of your home. If you rent, then when the lease is up the landlord has the right to raise your rent. I support affordable housing subsidies (combined with density bonuses, I think they are a fair use of government) but no one has an entitlement to live anywhere, especially when they don’t own the place.

  • Alexander F.

    Folks, one addition – inadvertently omitted during the original post.
    All of those projects will also include AFFORDABLE HOUSING units
    (not just “luxury apartments”)
    the “Project #2” (La Brea & Lexington) will be exclusively “affordable housing”.

  • Eric B

     @calwatch:disqus Which just goes to show how low our standards truly are.

  • Alexander F.

    Dear “Lggust”,
    thanks for your passionate response.
    You’re right, the closest subway stop is located within half-a-mile to a mile (depending on which project you choose as a point of reference).
    However, specifically for Los Angeles this distance is indeed relatively short, considering LA’s mass transit is overall underdeveloped.
    It will take decades to bring our mass transit up to date,
    however for now – we will have to be thankful for having the metro Red line close by, as well as several major bus lines (4, 704, 212, 312, 217, and 780).

  • Mike

    I live on Sycamore between Fountain and SaMo and am very excited about these developments!  I already like the area, but think these will make it great.

    One more smaller one in this area of La Brea that was not mentioned:  a restaurant/biergarten is apparently going to be opening at the empty lot on the northwest corner of La Brea/Lexington.

  • Alexander F.

    El Barto,
    I totally agree with you!
    In fact, I’ve inquired from the developers whether McDonalds would be removed as well, but unfortunately they responded the fast-food facility would remain.
    Thankfully, McDonalds has a small (and clean) parking lot, and hadn’t attracted suspicious gatherings as the former Carl’s Jr did. Moreover, as time progresses and as new developments flourish,I think it’s only a matter of time till McDonalds gets replaced by an upscale restaurant of a retail shop.

  • Anonymous

    wow, a massive collection of ugly.

  • Marcotico

     There are some places that are primed for industry mixed-use, but that doesn’t mean residential.  Industrial uses even “clean” ones, need space which means cheaper land.  Housing usually sits on more expensive land, because people want to live there.  Also even clean industrial is still loud, disruptive, and clean tech can still be hazardous (drug manufacturing, high tech).  You don’t want housing and industrial mixing, because no matter how much they are forewarned the residents will eventual complain about the industrial users, and cause head aches for those business owners. 

  • Anonymous

    This article is offensive. Can’t wait to live in a “world-class city” once these ugly developments are built. 

  • Anonymous

    I love how all the McDonalds joints around my area are upgrading. They look really nice and don’t look rundown or faded anymore. They really do enhance the neighborhoods in a small way and it’s readily apparent when they are surrounded by buildings with chipped paint and brown grass.

  • Juliet

    Bette Davis is turning over in her grave! No more advice to “Take Fountain” to get to the top…or anywhere! 

  • LP

    I’m anxious to see how these developments will pan out. However, I shudder to thing about the increased traffic, especially during the late afternoon/early evening peak travel hours.  Not to mention when traffic is slowed by Hollywood Bowl, Grauman’s premiere events,etc. I’ve already been ticketed because I couldn’t navigate east on Fountain crossing La Brea — (traffic was moving but stopped just as I was nearly clear of the intersection! Damn traffic camera!).  And the Santa Monica/La Brea intersection is also very congested. 

    Has the LADOT reconsidered a DASH route that will incorporate these burgeoning area as well as the route they discontinued from Hollywood to W. Hollywood?

    I also wonder if these luxury apartments will sell. 

  • Alexander F.

    Mr./Mrs. Anonymous,
    how do you find this article “offensive”??
    Do you find major improvements to be an offensive endeavor?
    Or do you find “offensive” the transformation from the old, ugly concrete bunkers and abandoned buildings into upscale, family-friendly environment?
    Maybe the improved quality of life to you is “offensive” to you?..
    Maybe creating hundreds of jobs (thanks to new development) is offensive?
    Or perhaps you like being in the 1980’s where crime and blight was prevailing, making LA streets to be unsafe?
    while I’m open to accept comments and even criticism,
    I’m always perplexed by people like you who just start whining while making no sense.

  • Jack

    For those who are paranoid about “more traffic”:
    the developers, along with the city officials, have done substantial research,
    and have determined that those projects do not (I repeat: DO NOT!) noticeably increase traffic.

    What increases traffic is car-dependence. Those new developments actually REDUCE car dependence because of being Transit-Oriented Developments, allowing walking, shopping, living at home, and using mass transit all in the immediate area. Many (if not most) of the prospective tenants, as research shown, will not drive most of the times.

    If you noticed recent mixed-use developments in Hollywood (e.g. huge Hollywood and Vine complex), traffic actually has DECREASED along Vine Street. Partially because there were several parking lots, and a D.M.V. office, all of which induced driving. But now those car-inducing sources are gone, hence the results: fewer drivers on the road.

    Check out for yourself, traffic is moving freely on Vine (around Hollywood), even in rush hours!

    I salute the new developments, and agree that they will greatly improve the area!

  • Even-Steven

    Are you offended that the crime – along with mental retards from the area – will be gone,
    and that (for the first time ever!) walking on La Brea will become safe?

  • Palabras

    I suggest that Jack read details of traffic found in Hollywood Community Plan. All the new density provides for additional parking spaces for thousands of new dwelling units. Until a dramatic and creative new plan is developed to find ways to move people to jobs, stores, and schools, public transportation is not an option for most people in LA. No way for parents to drive kids to schools (remember, even school busing budgets have been slashed, and parents already carpool). No way for gardeners, delivery people, small businesses, paramedics, people carrying bags, going to doctors’ offices, or visit family or friends, to get to their destinations. Foldable bikes simply won’t do it. Especially not in hollywood, a hillside neighborhood. Especially not if we face decades of major construction with traffic “mitigation” methods including having “flagmen” to help “keep” traffic moving. Really, flagmen?

    Also, the comments about Vine are simply wrong. I found Jack’s comment just odd. I drive almost daily on Vine, and can attest to the fact that a single trip between Franklin and Melrose can take half an hour after 4 pm. More, of course, if a single aggressive valet stands in a traffic lane, or as i just saw recently, a fire truck gets literally stuck in traffic at Sunset and Vine, unable to make the turn north on Vine.

    TOD is a great idea, and it’s worked well in new cities, and to a degree in places like Bogota, where the government can literally raze slums and move people into apartment complexes. But, in Los Angeles? Where is a model?

    To deprive the city of “automobile amenities” without an honest discussion of exactly how millions of us who take to cars because there is no public transportation, especially north-south, scares me. Saying it doesn’t make it so. 

  • Jack

    did you read my comment attentively?
    Because I specifically mentioned the development around HOLLYWOOD AND VINE. Not anywhere else.

    I agree, traffic on Vine is generally heavy, but not where the new mixed-use project has been built. Traffic on Vine gets much heavier once you’re at Sunset (i.e. away from the TOD), and going further south. No Mixed-Uses or TOD’s have been built anywhere south of Sunset, unfortunately. No “Smart Growth” projects have been generated except for the Hollywood/Vine project, thus the remainder of the corridor induces car dependence, directly causing heavy traffic
    I hope this is clear now, and I’m sure you’ll agree about the traffic patterns on Vine.
    Please note, I’ve lived in LA for 15 years, and have noticed a significant DECREASE of traffic around the new Hollywood/Vine (“W Hotel”) development, while elsewhere the traffic has indeed increased.
    And one word of advice: don’t speak for everybody (about driving), speak for yourself please. Because – while the majority of Angelinos still do drive, more and more people quit driving those days; it’s definitely possible, and you get a stress-free, healthier lifestyle. If you never tried taking the subway or riding a bus, now would be a good time to try!. Of course, LA is not New York, but we’re getting there.
    Good luck!

  • Michael_weho

    I noticed that all of the shady characters that hung around the Carl’s have now moved across the street to the Target and Best Buy center. Also, some of my co-workers ahve said they were harassed while in the parking basement.

  • Michael_weho

    One more thing, I am glad that i work in Hollywood and live in West Hollywood.  I would hate to have to drive from Santa Monica to the other end of Hollywood.  Rush Hour traffic is horrible.  I have lived in the area since 1978 and traffic has gotten much, much worse..Cell phone usage while driving does not help matters at all. 

  • cdmidwil

    Does anyone know what’s going to be of the old car lot on La Brea and 4th st? It finally got sold, but haven’t heard what it will turn in to. Also, across the street is the gutted building apparently ACE museum took over, but construciton/renovation has been slooooow.

  • Joninla

    As to everyone who shared the sentiment that if nothing else, the bight that was a crime magnet and former fast food Carl’s Jr and Mc Donalds was an ever worsening situation.

    However it was no coincidence that these over sized developments came alone at just the right time to capture the ‘good riddance’ feelings that anything, even an massive mixed  use project is better than the existing mess.

    The city intentionally let the area go to pot so that there would be less objection to the two projects (jons & carls for short) which are the last misuse of the now eliminated California Redevelopment Agency Funds that have been a big part of California’s near fatal Budget Problems.

    The same intentional neglect of Plummer Park by the City has been going on to hopefully persuade the local residents that cutting down all the old trees in plummer park to build an underground parking structure (for an additional 69 net new parking places and a price tag of $41 MILLION dollars which were the very last dollars left in the CA Redevelopment Agency funding, and WeHo used it AAA credit rating to grab the money to support the additional parking requirements of these developments at City Cost and with the loss of an entire grove of the oldest large growth trees left in Los Angeles.

  • Kilroyrogers

    Completely absurd to think these monstrously large and concentrated projects won’t encourage more traffic. Look at the East Weho Gateway or whatever the Target project is called. That underground parking is jammed always. People drive to stores. Build more stores, they drive to them. The ludicrous concept of shop owners living mixed use style above their boulangerie or boutique is absurd at Weho and Weho adjacent pricing. Target already has backed cars beyond Formosa. Just wait, jack. These “studies” serve their master, that’s all. In decades of council meetings, I have rarely if ever heard staff admit that traffic impact would be too much to bear. Ever.

  • Kilroyrogers

    Also in #3 that new building in the pic is actually the awesome laundry company existing today on the corner of Romaine and Highland. It looks a LOT like the La Brea building structurally. Just a note. BTW I’ve been trying to rein in these massive projects in scale. Remember, Movietown Plaza was going to be ELEVEN stories, and almost ALL of The Lot, formerly UA, could be built out in the near future. 

  • Joninla

    “Affordable Housing Units” sounds like a great thing, but the list and people on that list to next qualify for such a unit remains an unseen mystery around WeHo.

    Likewise, the WeHo projects in the past have had suspiciously questionable ‘low income’ tenants once completed (the project behind the French Market is referred to as the “Welfare Chateuax” as it’s Russian Tenants (only reference to the campaign contributors in WeHo proper being a lot from the Russian Community and they get a lot back) who drive big Mercedes and appear anything but low income  or in need of financial assistance to get decent housing, let alone the extemely high quality of that project.

  • Joninla

     No need to be anxious – just take a look at the already completed Mix-Use projects in WeHo.
    They appear nice from the perspective of being new, but will age terribly.
    They are built right up to the edge of the property lines/sidewalks and although limited in height to 5-7 stories, they are tall enough to block all views and sunlight for most of the day turning the street into a canyon like feel.
    Finally, as with the Hancock Lofts (located on Hancock & samo) not one single unit in what was a condo project sold.  When finally turned to rental units, they were/are unable to fill them and have resorted to allowing small businesses to rent housing units to use as office space.
    For the first time since completed there is finally a complete leasing of the ground floor retail, but they were half empty for years.

    IN SUM: Mixed use sounds like a good idea, but in West Hollywood/L.A. people who can afford the high prices are not choosing to rent or buy these new housing units.

    Many reasons I suppose – but I ask, if you were renting an expensive new apartment would you choose one right above a bus stop on a very busy road with large windows with no privacy whatsoever (almost looks like a display window to attract people to look in)

  • Jessicac Brecker

    you know what would make the area the target shopping center more attractive and more safe? getting rid of that poison eye sore of a cement factory. I am glad they are saving the historic but very run down building across the street as i always thought it had potential, but am wondering who wants to hang out next to a cement factory (they cause cancer) except for the homeless who live all around it. as for the carls jr homeless, yeah they hang out at the best buy target now. where are they supposed to go? to be fair they don’t bother people. many of them are transgender and transgenders are subjected to more discrimination than any other population group (they are also one of the last groups to not be protected from employee discrimination) they have very few options in life and it is very sad. No wonder they do drugs. what we really need is a homeless shelter. making the area look more expensive doesn’t make them go away it just makes them hang out and sleep on the sidewalks instead. 

  • Jessicac Brecker

    ps, after writing this i took a walk in my area. plummer park does not look run down and there were LOADS of free parking spots in spite of it being Saturday and July. the long hall/great hall needs a new coat of paint. it was a billion degrees today and the big huge hundred year old shade trees made a huge difference. also there is a great view of the hills as you walk west across la brea on willoughby. there are pros and cons to all of this, but what i am wondering is why they can build buildings that fit in with the style of the local architecture, a style which is sorta spanish in influence? i heard times square in new york is the inspiration for the hollwood highland mall. im not sure why everything has to look like a cross between los vegas and a valley strip mall though….

  • Residentdfds

    I have the same question. Constructions picked up big time over the past couple of days.. but I cant find info anywhere. It’s a massive amount of space they are playing with too. 

  • Jeff

    I live right behind this development and have yet to find out what’s being constructed. I am so disturbed by what’s happening without knowing the intent. The building provided privacy and quiet from La Brea traffic. Now it sounds and looks like I am living on top of a traffic jam. This is so troubling. Any info or suggestion as to where to find out more would be appreciated! Thanks!

  • Andygatesactor

    I agree with Jack. It’s the mindset of car dependence that I find troubling not these new developments which I think by the way do a lot to upgrade the aesthetics of the area. I think the old “LA is a driving city” adage only holds true in the vastness of the city as a whole. But opinon is that this city is made up of fragments and it is possible not to rely on your car more than you think.

  • Rrjd323

    I often wonder what all this retail space under the luxury apts will actually be
    and the archtecture is not going to be classic in the coming decades, look at Sunset and Vine over the now new Walgreens. looks slummy already and is still not that old. People in 2050 are going to hate all these blds as they all look the same.

  • The Truth Hurts

    First of all, which “car lot”? This area once housed a car dealership on the southwest and southeast corner of that intersection, and there was a used car lot on the northwest corner.

    What I know for a fact is that the southwest corner will be an OSH. I’m assuming underground parking since the construction shows no sign of an open-air parking lot (and it wouldn’t be feasible either). No idea what’s going to be put up across the street (with the Vladimir Lenin statue), or on the northwest corner.

  • The Truth Hurts

    Wow I figure they would try to avoid the “Gateway” shopping area since there’s a lot of people there.

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