Long Beach Olympic venues detailed in new renderings

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The city’s waterfront would play a big part in the 2024 games if LA wins its bid

Leaders of Los Angeles’s bid for the 2024 Olympics have released yet another batch of renderings detailing the sites where events would take place should the city succeed in its quest to host the games.

The new images offer a closer look at the waterfront sports park in Long Beach that would host handball, water polo, BMX, sailing, marathon swimming, and triathlon events. Like the recently unveiled Valley Sports Park, the area would be given a brightly-colored makeover, with temporary facilities that could be easily disassembled after the games.

Such facilities are a centerpiece of bid committee LA 2024’s plans for the games, which would not require construction of any permanent venues—a strategy that bid leaders say will help the city avoid the financial losses that have plagued other games.

The city’s plan for the games relies on four distinct sports parks located in Long Beach, Downtown LA, Carson, and the Sepulveda Basin Recreation Area. The sports parks would include a mix of live sports venues and food and entertainment options available to non-ticketed members of the public.

View of convention center
Long Beach sailing facility

Temporary facilities in Long Beach will be constructed for water polo and BMX, while the arena adjacent to the city’s convention center would house handball competition. Canals along the marina would be used for the swimming and triathlon events, while temporary seating off the pier would be set up as a viewing area for sailing.

Handball tournament

Along with Paris, LA is one of only two cities left in competition for the 2024 games, though International Olympic Committee officials have hinted that the losing city could be awarded the 2028 games. The IOC will officially decide on a host city in September.

Venice Beach Freakshow closing after a decade on the boardwalk

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The freakshow is hosting a celebration and protest Sunday

After more than 10 years of entertaining audiences (and making them feel uncomfortable), the Venice Beach Freakshow is closing its doors today.

The loving tribute to carnival diversions of old—and to Venice’s history as a haven for artists and weirdos—ended with a final celebration Sunday that doubled as a protest. Owner Todd Ray tells LA Weekly that the new owners of the building that houses the freakshow have refused to renew its lease.

According to a post on the Venice Beach Freakshow Facebook page, all the businesses in its building are being pushed out except for Snapchat, which moved in shortly before a similarly named investment group called Snapshot Partners purchased the property last year.

Snapchat representatives told LA Weekly that the tech company has no relation to Snapshot Partners, but sources familiar with the deal told the Los Angeles Business Journal that Snapchat has a right of first refusal for the entire property should it become available.

@venicebeachfreakshow

A post shared by Paige (@peachpit93) on Apr 30, 2017 at 1:54pm PDT

As Snapchat has grown from a humble startup based out of an old beachfront bungalow to a publicly traded corporation with offices in Venice and beyond, its presence in the area has become a source of frustration for many longtime residents who say the once-quirky neighborhood has become a playground for the wealthy.

Then they came for the #freaks… #Snapchat is lame… #Venice #Beach #Freakshow.

A post shared by Johnny Ramirez (@johnnyrobott) on Apr 30, 2017 at 1:13pm PDT

The Venice Beach Freakshow opened in 2006 and has been a popular boardwalk attraction since then. The show has included a wide array of sword swallowers, stunt performers, and persons of unusual height over the years. Between 2013 and 2014 it was the subject of a reality series on AMC.

The freakshow’s party and protest began at noon and is scheduled to continue until 6 p.m.

Inside LAX’s exclusive terminal aimed at celebrities

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Membership is $7,500 a year

A new, ultra-private terminal at LAX for celebrities, “high-profile executives, and any traveler that demands privacy” is almost up and running at the airport, and is it ever luxurious, says Forbes, which took a tour of the gated terminal. Called The Private Suite, the new terminal has a glorious array of amenities and a major price tag.

The Private Suite is located inside a former cargo facility not far from LAX’s south runway. Guests of the high-end terminal can enjoy their own personal suites (which include a bathroom and snacks) or wait in a shared area with other fancy people while they are tended to by a team of staffers.

The price of entry is steep. Forbes says that one-time, trial visits will cost between $3,500 and $4,000 for a group of four. Use of the shared lounge is $2,000 a person.

Members will pay just $2,700 for four people traveling domestically and only $3,000 for a four-person group traveling internationally, in addition to the cost of membership— which is $7,500 a year.

Service offered for that hefty price is certainly a cut above.

A post shared by Jim Dobson (@officialjimdobson) on Apr 28, 2017 at 12:20pm PDT

Eight staffers are assigned to each guest upon arrival at the gated private terminal, one of whom “takes care of all of your luggage needs,” eliminating the need to lug anything or even worry about who’s lugging anything.

The Private Suite has its own private TSA “screening lounge,” doing away with even being near people who are waiting in a line to get through the security checkpoint.

The guests of the luxurious terminal are ferried to their planes across the tarmac in a BMW 7 series and delivered directly to the entrance for their plane.

Some airlines already provide special services or terminals for their passengers who don’t want to deal with crowds or paparazzi, but to access them, travelers still have to pass through the same terminals that all the commoners use. The Private Suite, being removed from the regular terminal area, cuts that part out entirely.

The Private Suite is scheduled to officially open May 15, says the Wall Street Journal, but Belinda Carlisle of The Go-Gos fame has already tried it out and seems to approve:

Purple Line subway extension to Century City gets green light to move forward

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Major construction will begin next year

There was no big showy shovels-in-the-dirt ceremony for it, but the next phase of the Purple Line extension has hit a milestone, says The Source.

Tutor Perini/O & G, the contractors working to build the the second section of the extension, have been given an official “notice to proceed,” allowing them to begin work on Beverly Hills’s Wilshire/Rodeo station and the Century City/Constellation station.

The Source says that major construction will begin next year. (Pre-construction has been underway and will continue through the year.)

Metro’s hoping to finish this leg of the extension and a third one to Westwood by 2024, so it would be in service for the 2024 Olympics, if they’re awarded to Los Angeles.

Site maps for the Century City and Beverly Hills stations show where subway riders will eventually be able to access the subway and how the future stations will fit into the existing landscape.

The first leg of the Purple Line extension, which will bring three stations at Wilshire/La Brea, Wilshire/Fairfax, and Wilshire/La Cienega, is already underway and the construction has been turning up its fair share of fossils.

 Via Metro

Take a peek at architecture firm Johnson Fain’s Chinatown mixed-user

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118 units and underground parking

The wheels are in motion on a plan by local and prolific architecture firm Johnson Fain to build a seven-story residential and retail complex near the Los Angeles State Historic Park, the Downtown News reports. New renderings offer a first glimpse of how that complex would look.

Built on the offices that currently house the architecture firm, the project would have 118 residential units and almost 8,800 square feet of retail and office space on the ground floor, says the News. Johnson Fain tells Curbed 118 units will be apartments.

The rendering shows balconies off the building’s east and west sides, as well as glassy ground-floor storefronts.

Parking would be on two underground levels, and would accommodate 170 cars and 156 bikes.

Located at 1201 North Broadway, the project would be just west of the recently reopened Los Angeles State Historic Park and about a half mile from the Chinatown Gold Line Station.

Johnson Fain’s been busy in Chinatown. The firm recently designed Blossom Plaza, the mixed-use project that sits alongside the neighborhood Gold Line Station.

Scott Johnson, a partner at the firm, told the Downtown News, “We thought that since we’re doing this for everyone else, we should create the entitlements ourselves.”

Johnson estimates that the project is at least 18 months away from starting construction. No budget has been revealed, says the News, and it’s not clear where Johnson Fain would relocate to once work begins on the site.

Just across the street from 1201 North Broadway, a long and large 920-apartment project has been proposed by Steve Riboli, who owns the nearby San Antonio Winery. The seven-building project would run alongside almost the entire length of the park.

Arts District mixed use project moving forward again

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The development will include 344 live-work units

Plans are moving ahead for a project in the southern Arts District originally proposed back in 2014.

Joining the dozen-and-a-half or so projects already in various stages of development in the area, it would bring 344 live-work units and 29,544 square feet of commercial space to the neighborhood. Plans filed with the city yesterday call for a seven-story structure that would rise from a large industrial parcel at the intersection of Alameda and Industrial streets.

Planning Department staff tell Curbed that Houston-based developer Camden USA rebooted the project over the summer, after a couple of years during which the project was evidently on hold.

Rendering of courtyard

The older version of the project would have included 16 additional units, but about a third of the currently proposed commercial space. Renderings of the development released at that time show a boxy structure with a somewhat Halloween-y color scheme. The renderings are the work of LA-based firm Lorcan O’Herlihy Architects.

Rendering from street

The development is one of several planned within just a few blocks of the project site. Right across the street, developer Mark Janda is planning a large 475-unit residential project, while on the other side of Alameda, Atlas Capital’s massive mixed use development Row DTLA continues to announce big-name tenants.

Remodeled 1940s house in Van Nuys’s historic district asks $535K

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Wood floors, corner windows, and a fancy water filtration system

Tucked into Van Nuys’s historic district, this two-bedroom house built in 1940 has 21st century updates that include drought-tolerant landscaping and reverse osmosis water system.

Inside, the living room and dining area’s corner windows light up the space. Wood floors run throughout the two communal rooms and the kitchen, which is open to dining area.

A large, rock-covered fireplace makes a statement in the master bedroom, where a sliding glass door opens to a patio. There are only 1.5 bathrooms, but the full bath is decked out with “ an oversized shower” with two shower heads.

Measuring 1,550 square feet, the house sits on a nearly 6,000-square-foot lot with a spa and a covered patio with water misters (perfect for those hot Valley summers). A one-car garage has also been converted into a “special workshop” space.

Public records show the house last sold in 2013 for $465,000. Now, it’s listed for $585,000.

LA wants to keep better track of its affordable housing

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The City Council wants better tenant protections and a database of affordable units

The Los Angeles City Council passed a series of motions Wednesday aimed at protecting tenants and preserving the city’s precarious stock of affordable housing.

Councilmember Jose Huizar, who introduced the measures, pointed to rising rents in his district as evidence of a citywide housing crisis. “We have to do more than just increase the supply,” he told the council.

The motions direct city staff to create new systems to monitor affordable housing citywide and inform tenants about their rights as renters. Here are a few of the proposed reforms:

  • The creation of a public database tracking both the creation and loss of affordable housing units throughout the city
  • Councilmembers will receive immediate notification when landlords mass-evict tenants under California’s Ellis Act
  • A new rule requiring landlords to notify tenants of their eviction rights under the city’s Rent Stabilization Ordinance

The council also asked the city’s Housing and Community Investment Department to strategize in preparation for the potential loss of units kept affordable under temporary covenants.

HCID reports that between 2009 and 2015, 2,831 units have been set aside under such covenants. Once affordable restrictions on those units expire, they can be offered at market rate prices. Some older covenants are set to expire within the next five years, and one of Huizar’s motions suggests that the city could negotiate extensions with landlords to ensure they remain on the rental market at affordable prices.

Huizar has also called for a new ordinance protecting tenants from harassment tactics perpetrated by landlords eager to vacate rent-controlled units. The council will take up that issue during its Friday meeting.

Echo Park and Silver Lake are the hottest markets for condo buyers right now

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A new map shows neighborhoods where condo sales are on the rise

Los Angeles has plenty of options for buyers in the market for condos (here are a few now)—but some ‘hoods are in more demand than others. A new MLS map tracks recent sales across the city, and it found Silver Lake/Echo Park is the hottest neighborhood for condo buyers these days.

Twenty-five 25 condos sold there in the first quarter of 2017—up from just eight in the first quarter of last year. The total amount paid in those 25 sales was $17.7 million, averaging just over $700,000 per unit. That was nearly a 300 percent increase over sales volume during the same period of 2016, when condo buyers spent $4.7 million in the area.

Estately analyst Ryan Nickum tells Curbed that the market for condos in the Silver Lake area is small, but growing quickly. More condos were available in March than in the previous 12 months. Of the 13 condos on the market now, 10 have sales pending, while the median sale price of $610,000 over the past year is nearly 11 percent higher than it was a year earlier.

Sales are also up in the Baldwin Hills/Crenshaw area, as well as Hollywood, Mid-Wilshire, and Marina del Rey—which saw 83 sales this past quarter, up from 52 a year ago.

The area with the most condo sales overall was Westwood/Century City, with 119 sales. But that was a very small increase over the 116 that sold in the first quarter of last year.

With home sales surging across Los Angeles County, there aren’t a lot of legitimately cold areas on the map (many of the neighborhoods shaded blue simply don’t have many condos to begin with).

But sales have slowed in Santa Monica, where the 74 units sold in early 2017 was down a bit from the 87 sold a year earlier. In neighboring Brentwood, sales declined to 38 from 61 in the first quarter of 2016.

Map showing most popular rental areasCourtesy MLS

The destructive force of Rebuild LA

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How the nonprofit created after the 1992 ‘riots’ failed the community it was supposed to help

Two stray pit bulls swaggered like old pals toward the intersection of Florence and Normandie. On the northeast corner was Tom’s Liquor, on the southeast corner sat a Unocal station, and the northwest and southwest corners housed two vacant lots, one of them charred and burnt-out. The Eight Tray gang stood watch over the liquor store. The rest of the street was fires, smashed glass, looters with formula, diapers, paper towels, and guns going off. One motorist was dragged from his truck, kicked, and beaten with a brick and claw hammer till his head was coursing with blood. Further west down Florence, at an auto shop, Irwin Small of AC Motors told his white customer to jump into the trunk of his car; he closed the trunk and smuggled him home. This place and this moment, April 29, 1992: The core of the LA Uprising.


After the acquittal of four police officers for the beating of Rodney King, the city rose up in a series of events some people refer to as the LA Riots. Fifty-five people died, thousands were injured, and more than 1,100 buildings were damaged or destroyed, leaving behind a repair bill of nearly $1 billion. The preferred and more accurate term is LA Uprising, rather than riots, to indicate that the events were a proactive response to the acquittal and consistent racism from the police and the judicial system.

The city’s biggest attempt to respond to the 1992 Uprising was Rebuild LA. I’d read about RLA’s job creation efforts before: the supermarkets that would be built, the minority business enterprises that would be created, the vans that would be distributed. But combing through hundreds of boxes of the organization’s archives at Loyola Marymount University, nothing had prepared me for the extent of RLA’s corporate gaze, and the degree to which entrepreneurs saw financial ruin as an opportunity to profit in South LA, with both private and foundation funding acquired in the millions.


March 3, 1991, the videotaped beating of Rodney King flashed across televisions all over the country. Thirteen days later, a 15-year-old girl named Latasha Harlins walked into Empire Liquor Market Deli at 91st and Figueroa. She placed a plastic bottle of orange juice on the counter. The owner, Soon Ja Du, pointed at her, an argument ensued, and they got into a scuffle. Harlins put her money on the counter, took the orange juice, and began to walk out the door. Soon Ja Du pulled out a gun and shot Harlins in the back of the head. On November 15, 1991, a jury found Du guilty of voluntary manslaughter, an offense that carries a maximum sentence of 16 years, but Judge Joyce Karlin rejected the jury’s sentencing and instead sentenced Du to five years probation, 400 hours of community service, and a $500 fine.

 Courtesy of the Center for the Study of Los Angeles/Elizabeth Daniels

The Brotherhood Crusade receives a GM van donation.

Crowds stormed Karlin’s courtroom, demanding an explanation. Hundreds more took to the streets with signs, chants, fists in air. Danny Bakewell, a real estate mogul and entrepreneur, later to be on the board of Rebuild LA, later to be the target of NAACP protests for threatening to close down businesses he had brought into the community, and later to owe the city of Compton $3.1 million in debts for development loans and land, led the angry crowd into the courtroom.


Six miles north on the 110 Freeway from Florence and Normandie stood 1000 West Eighth Place. It was June 1992, two months after shopkeepers stood watch with shotguns above their stores in South LA. The street outside was full of honking cars and bikes on sidewalks. Inside the office suite, meetings were taking place with LA’s richest and most powerful men. A letter with the city seal from Mayor Tom Bradley hung in the foyer. The letter announced a new organization to renovate Los Angeles in the wake of the uprising. Rebuild LA, later known as RLA, had been born.

The word on the street was that Rebuild LA was going to help the city Rise Out of the Ashes. From the moment it was created, the promises came pouring in. The organization responded to the gang treaty with pledges to create jobs and require the employers to only hire within the affected areas. In response to an unprecedented gang treaty signed a few days before the uprising—which called for “the return to permanent peace in Watts California” and “the return of Black businesses, economic development, and advancement of educational programs,” and included a detailed economic plan—RLA pledged to create jobs and require the employers to only hire within the affected areas.

A logo was painstakingly designed—it was to be a lotus flower in red, blue, yellow, with three big petals to represent the private sector, the public sector, and the community.

Rebuild LA had a lot of work ahead of it. Between April 1991 and April 1992, the month of the uprising, 108,000 local jobs had vanished. LA was once the second-largest automaking center in the nation; the final GM plant in Van Nuys shut down in the summer of 1992, leaving 2,600 more people without jobs. Black and Latinx communities were hit hard, with a combined 29.7 percent in poverty and more than 13 percent unemployed. But in the room at 1000 West Eighth Place sat money. The board of Rebuild LA was comprised of 96 Fortune 100 entrepreneurs, community leaders, and public officials—the joke became, if you had a disagreeable critique of RLA, they’d just put you on the board. Was it a business or was it a nonprofit? It was both—a Corporate Nonprofit.


At 8611 Western in Manchester Square, about a mile and a half from Florence and Normandie, there’s a Shell Super Station. As a generous contributor to RLA, the Shell Oil Company constructed a $2 million gas station with some plants, a market, and an adjoining low-slung gray building that served for a while as an academy. Inside the training center there were desks with brand new computers and a couple of teachers. The doors opened in March 1993, and by the end of the year, 611 students had graduated from the program. More than 90 percent went on to college, employment, or both. Shell also granted $100,000 in scholarship money each year and created a minority financing program, arranging $2 million in loans for 10 new black and Latinx station owners in California.

Like many other Rebuild LA projects, that training center didn’t last. It was shut down in 2003 and all of Shell Oil’s Southern California gas stations were sold to Tesoro in 2006. Today it sits boarded up, a vacant bungalow; the last time I was there it served as a backdrop for a guy selling clothes, or blankets, or plants, or cell phones, or a medley of all of the above.

Rebuild LA’s leaders argued that over the decade prior to the uprising, government had failed to deliver for the people of South LA. The board operated on the assumption that the neighborhoods and its residents were insolvent, inefficient, lazy, corrupt thieves, and that an overreliance on public subsidies had run them into the ground. This community needed a group of people with good business sense, they said.

Mayor Tom Bradley appointed Peter Ueberroth to head Rebuild LA. Prior to this, Ueberroth was known as a Coca-Cola executive and former Major League Baseball commissioner. As baseball commissioner he raised his salary to $450,000 (nearly twice that of his predecessor) and found a new source of income by persuading large corporations to pay for the privilege of having their products endorsed by Major League Baseball, although he’s most notorious for facilitating a collusion among team owners to prevent players from joining the teams of their choice and signing equitable contracts.

Ueberroth’s successor, developer Tony Salazar, received much heated correspondence from the Service Employees International Union due to the poor working conditions maintained by the subcontractors of Salazar’s buildings. One of his Rebuild LA co-chairs, Linda Wong, was paid a salary of $150,000. Many people in the community felt that if the organization’s board members were making so much money, they should increase the wages of their employees. The Justice for Janitors campaign put Rebuild LA on their “Top Trash List” for refusing to sign a workers’ bill of rights.

Part of RLA’s strategy was to engage Berglas & Garfield, a consulting firm, to determine how to cut costs in buildings they acquired. In their proposal, the firm suggested switching contractors for security, janitorial services, maintenance, and gardening—all property service jobs, mostly filled by people who lived in the very community RLA was supposed to be creating jobs for. The proposal included such suggestions as, “rather than use four people for janitorial services, we feel three should be sufficient.”

There’s a lot of money in poverty. Privatization might seem like an earnest strategy for eradicating poverty, but it often ends with private companies holding lucrative contracts to achieve elusive or/and unattainable goals, while enjoying a tax write-off at the same time. Privatization dulls the last weapon the poor still have—their vote—by allowing corporations to make the decisions about their neighborhoods. Rebuild LA was trickle-down economics in a nonprofit.

Last summer, Shell Oil Company reached a $120 million settlement and began a soil cleanup of a leak from a contaminated oil tank they left underground in the city of Carson, which is bordered by Compton and home to many low-income, non-white residents. Shell was one of many companies that damaged the community they purported to support in their rebuilding efforts. In 1996, Lockheed Martin agreed to a more than $60 million settlement with residents of Burbank whose health and property were damaged by the aircraft manufacturing company’s plant. In 2010, I surveyed all the bank-owned foreclosed properties in South LA and found at least 604 homes that were in blight. This ranged from a small level of debris, unkempt lawns, and stolen water pipes to full-fledged crack dens. Of these 604 homes, 102 were owned by Bank of America, whose executives joined Ueberroth on the board of RLA and made a $1 million equity investment in the minority-owned Founders National Bank. Some of the houses were serving as hubs for illegal gang activity, clothing and empty bottles on the floor, the walls inscribed with graffiti. One closet bore the names and numbers of girls presumably working as prostitutes. The saddest feature, amid the shoes and wet trash: a piece of half-finished algebra homework.

Another big contributor to RLA was GM, with donations of vans. A white man in a Santa hat went to 200 East Slauson Avenue to deliver one of 100 vans. This one went to The Brotherhood Crusade, a nonprofit organization run by Danny Bakewell.

 Courtesy of the Center for the Study of Los Angeles/Elizabeth Daniels

A $711 check delivered to 7-Eleven.

Other companies engaged in RLA were Coca-Cola, Toyota, Hyundai, Exxon, Occidental Petroleum, the New York Stock Exchange. As noted in a memo by Chuck Frumerie, an executive who was loaned to RLA, in their first 18 months of operation, the organization solicited over $500 million of public and private investments from companies such as IBM and GM, and all of the oldest and largest private sector companies in the world.

On June 6, 1992, one thousand chorus members of South LA churches were bussed into the Hollywood Bowl to perform the new anthem for LA. RLA purchased the song: David Cassidy’s “Stand and Be Proud.”

This is our chance

Now we gotta take it

We may never get to pass this way again

We gotta be strong

If we’re gonna make it

Now it’s time to dry the tears.

Through the ashes hope appears

And if we reach out for the sky

We might touch the stars.

Stand and be proud

Of who we are

We’ve come so close

We’ve come so far

Now and forever

Our light will shine

Shout it out loud

Stand and be proud

The song brands RLA as a beam of hope and poverty as an identity problem and a result of poor life choices, rather than a lack of access or circumstances. All proceeds of this feel-good motivational ditty went to Rebuild LA.

RLA planned to create an economic recovery for the areas affected by the LA Uprising over the course of five years. Many admit that these plans were too ambitious for such a short time frame. Others say that the 1994 Northridge earthquake was a major obstacle, with a repair bill 20 times that of the LA Uprising. After five years of promises, RLA was dismantled and its assets were transferred to the Los Angeles Community College District. Today, the income per capita in South Los Angeles is 51 percent lower than the national average, the median household income in South Los Angeles is 40 percent lower than the national average, and unemployment is 39 percent higher than the national average.

For over a decade after the uprising, the Watts truce held and gang crimes remained at historic lows. But the truce alone couldn’t turn things around. What this community needed then, it still needs now: jobs. The Crips and Bloods held up their part of the bargain, Rebuild LA did not hold up theirs.


In May of 1992, inspirational slogans and behavioral modification advice was plastered on billboards throughout South LA. Phrases like “It hurts when you lose everything” or “Why are we fighting each other?” or “The voices of peace must be bigger than the voices of violence.” These billboards were put up in place of some poorly timed marketing ads, such as a Benetton ad that featured a car in flames.


One of RLA’s strategies was to engage big companies to invest in minority-owned banks, such as Founders National Bank, and to disburse “affordable” loans of millions of dollars to small business owners within South LA. This strategy of offering loans to community members confused poverty with joblessness, ignoring the multitude of factors that contributed to the economic conditions of the area—access to education, health care, opportunities, negative engagement with police and the Department of Children and Family Services. People needed jobs, but not just jobs. Meanwhile, the loans turned some business owners into people permanently in debt, running to catch up with these “dreams” bestowed upon them.

Rebuild LA was a non-taxpaying legal entity with massive resources and an overambitious mission, a wholly unaccountable organization that had the means to funnel money and influence wherever they wanted. How else would a Coca-Cola executive find himself designing policies and revitalization programs for the city of Los Angeles?

In preparation for the one-year anniversary of the LA Uprising, the RLA planning committee suggested hosting a major community event at the intersection of Florence and Normandie. The concept, laid out in a memo, was to “build or rebuild something at the site that will be left as a permanent memorial.” Other ideas were to “stage a Hands-Across-Los Angeles type event.” Definitely to establish a permanent “leave-behind something-or-other” and to “make the event or leave behind something symbolic, practical, or both.” Perhaps an eternal flame? someone suggested. Like the flames atop the family-owned businesses in South LA during the uprising.

 Courtesy of the Center for the Study of Los Angeles

This United Colors of Benetton ad, which depicted a mafia-related car bombing on an Italian street, was pulled from the campaign after the LA Uprising.

The board agreed to reach out to the owners of the lots at Florence and Normandie to see if they would be amenable to some development assistance, and to survey the community on how this sort of event would be received. It was a mixed response, but overall people felt that it would be more appropriate for RLA to have a presence in the community during the other 364 days of the year. Heeding the advice of the community, they chose not to rebuild that intersection, as it would be seen for what it was, an empty gesture. Nothing happened and nothing was left behind.

Today, the intersection of Florence and Normandie has a Chevron gas station, a 76 station, a brand new AutoZone, and the same liquor store, Tom’s Liquor. A security officer stands at the entrance of Tom’s; all the liquor is behind bulletproof plexiglass. Some travel-size bottles of liquor, Swisher Sweets, and a framed photo of the owner, James Oh, in a military uniform are behind the glass, by the register. Chips and sodas and toiletries throughout. It’s the kind of store that, if you lived in the neighborhood, you might come to to pick up a can of soup or beans, a box of eggs, a carton of milk. Maybe some orange juice.

“Latasha Harlins, remember that name … ’Cause a bottle of juice is not something to die for” —Tupac Shakur “Something 2 Die 4”

Editor: Adrian Glick Kudler

Special thanks to the archives maintained by the Center for The Study of LA.

City committee rejects appeal to stop Tommie micro hotel in Hollywood

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Opponents call it a “party hotel”

A Los Angeles City Council committee on Tuesday unanimously rejected two appeals of its approval of an eight-story hotel planned for a Hollywood parking lot on Selma Avenue between Wilcox and Schraeder.

One of many hotels set to rise in the area, this one has drawn complaints from some residents who say the Tommie hotel would have too many rooms and draw a particularly raucous crowd.

Attorney Daniel Wright, representing one of the appellants, Sunset Landmark Investment, LLC, on behalf of the notoriously density-averse Silverstein Law Firm, called the development an “over-dense, noise-generating nuisance project” and a “party hotel.”

Developed by Five Chairs, a subsidiary of Hollywood International Regional Center, the hotel would be part of the new Tommie brand of micro hotels being launched by HIRC partner Two Roads Hospitality. The hotel operator describes the new chain as a “youthful and open-minded” place for guests to “share cutting-edge perspectives with visiting cultural influencers, artists and entrepreneurs.”

Plans for the project have already been approved by the city’s planning commission, but the appellants both argued that the project should be subject to a more extensive environmental review.

Wright told the Planning and Land Use Management Committee that construction on the project would significantly affect air quality in the area due to the presence of diesel trucks that could put students at a nearby elementary school at risk.

The other appeal was filed by the UNITE HERE Local 11 union, along with several individual community members. Representing the group, lawyer Gideon Kracov said that the project would be more beneficial to the community as housing, given the glut of new hotels planned for the area.

The members of the committee, however, were not persuaded by those arguments and quickly denied the appeals. Barring a major legal challenge, the project should still be on schedule to wrap up in 2018.

Postcard-pretty Glendale cottage featured in ‘Westworld’ lists for $1.94M

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The 1920s-era home is also on Glendale’s historic registry

This quaint cottage in Glendale’s Glenoaks Canyon will no doubt look familiar to fans of HBO’s Westworld. Built in the late 1920s, the French Country-style home played a significant role in the multilayered sci-fi series as home to a robot version of the Westworld theme park creator’s childhood family.

Known in real life as the Crowell-Saylor House, and listed on Glendale’s historic register, the cottage has just hit the market for only the third time since 1929. Although the five-bedroom, four-bath home appears frozen-in-time on the outside, its interior has been significantly updated.

Happily, there are many original details still in evidence, including extensive woodwork, steel casement windows, built-ins, crown moldings, several fireplaces, and period tile and fixtures in at least one bathroom.

The .41-acre property also contains a bar/sunroom, separate guest house, and mature ash, oak, and liquid amber trees. Asking price for the Mills Act-qualified residence is $1.94 million.

Los Angeles rent comparison: What $2,200 rents you right now

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Apartments in South Pasadena and Sherman Oaks are among the options

Welcome to Curbed Comparisons, where we explore what you can rent or buy for a certain dollar amount in various LA ‘hoods. We’ve found five rentals within $100 of today’s price: $2,200.

↑ Just off Ventura Boulevard, where eateries and shops are clustered, this two-bedroom in Sherman Oaks offers original oak floors, a little dining area, and air conditioning in every room. The top-floor unit comes with reserved parking, and rents for $2,195.

↑ This 700-square-foot, one-bedroom apartment in Echo Park has been totally redone. It features new appliances and fixtures, plus exposed brick walls and hardwood floors. Rent here is $2,150.

↑ Centrally located in Mid-Wilshire, this two-bedroom apartment extends across 900 square feet of space, and features hardwood floors throughout the unit. The apartment also holds a new stove and fridge, as well as French doors. The ground-floor unit rents for $2,105.

↑ If this one-bedroom condo were any closer to the South Pasadena Gold Line station, it would be on the tracks. The kitchen has stainless steel appliances, and there’s in-unit laundry. The residence also has its own little patio. The condo rents for $2,300.

↑ With two bedrooms, 2.5 bathrooms, and two parking spaces, this two-story Arlington Heights townhouse offers a good amount of room. Outfitted with new stainless steel appliances and in-unit laundry machines, the unit rents for $2,250.

First hotel ever built in Westwood will become Palihotel Westwood

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The hotel sold and will undergo “extensive” renovations

Westwood’s first and oldest hotel, the Claremont Hotel, has sold for $12.25 million to investors and is slated to become a chic boutique hotel from the Paligroup, according to lending firm Thorofare Capital Funds, which kicked in a sizable loan for the deal.

The sellers are described as “a local family” that has owned the 53-room hotel since it was built for them in 1939. The family sold the Westwood Village property for an undisclosed amount to Shamina Investments, a West Hollywood-based group.

This hotel comes with an interesting tv

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Shamina plans to overhaul the 78-year-old hotel. Once the makeover is complete, the hotel will be run by Paligroup, which operates the boutique LA hotels the Palihouse Santa Monica, Palihotel Melrose, and Palihouse West Hollywood.

The new owners received a $11.25-million loan from Thorofare Capital to help purchase the hotel, as well as to pay for “extensive” renovations, according to the lending firm.

Those renovations will include upgrading all hotel spaces—guest rooms, the lobby, common areas, and the building’s facade. The hotel is expected to reopen in February 2018 as the Palihotel Westwood.

Inside Merry Norris’s art-filled sanctuary in the Hollywood Hills

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At home with the influential arts advocate

Though 1984 is oft considered an important year for Los Angeles, it was also a significant year for the city’s biggest public art advocate, Merry Norris.

LA’s brand-new Museum of Contemporary Art, which she was helping build from scratch, was taking shape in its permanent space on Downtown’s Bunker Hill. The colorful exuberance of the Summer Olympics put LA in the global spotlight right as she was appointed to lead the city’s Cultural Affairs Commission. And 1984 was also the year that Norris found her remarkable home.

High ceilings and total privacy were what Norris initially had in mind when she started looking for a house, envisioning herself in one of the famous modern residences in the Hollywood Hills. She never expected to fall in love with a home only a handful of years old. But when she stood in the skylight-crowned atrium nestled into a pine grove high above the Sunset Strip, she just knew. She immediately crafted a strategy to outbid competing buyers.

The living room has a colorful painting by Ed Moses with many intersecting diagonal lines; a curvy cardboard chair by Frank Gehry sits in the atrium; a rusted coffee table designed by Morphosis sits on the patio and has many surface levels.
Clockwise from top left: A painting by Ed Moses—“The very best Ed Moses,” notes Norris—colors the living room; ceramic flowers by David Wiseman, a plaque by Jenny Holzer, and one of Frank Gehry’s wiggle chairs sit in the atrium; a steel sculpture designed by Morphosis for the Walker Art Center in Minneapolis has been cleverly repurposed as a coffee table on the pool deck.

Norris’s visitors are similarly entranced by her home. It’s not only because the breeze beckoning from the backyard draws them through the house and along sandstone floors gently cascading down to a glistening pool. Norris has taken this bright, blank canvas and layered it with many, many pieces of art collected over a number of years. She has essentially curated her own living museum, and every piece has a story that connects it to LA’s ever-changing art world.

After working as a docent at the Santa Barbara Museum of Art, Norris moved to Los Angeles, where she studied interior design at UCLA. She found herself buying art for her clients, which, in the 1970s, was something people flew to New York to do.

“There were about six collectors in LA at the time,” she remembers. “People didn’t know what to do, how to go to galleries, where they were, how to act, or what questions to ask.” Norris set herself apart by buying locally and ended up championing a game-changing, yet still nascent, community of artists who eventually became world-famous. “I was absolutely committed—and still am—to Los Angeles,” she says.

Bookshelves are stuffed with art books; Merry Norris stands in front of a colorful, abstract painting; she has another prototype of a Frank Gehry cardboard chair; a sculpture by Chris Finley hangs above a brown wood dresser.
Clockwise from top left: Bookshelves are heavy with art and design publications; Norris stands before a painting by Iva Gueorguievadoes; another prototype of Gehry’s famous cardboard chair; a sculpture by Chris Finley hangs above an antique dresser in the bedroom.

Just because her walls are hung with original works by Jenny Holzer, Mark Bradford, Ed Ruscha, and Iva Gueorguievadoes does not mean Norris’s home is overly fussy. Even the rare design pieces are available as seating—including two prototypes of Frank Gehry’s iconic cardboard wiggle chairs. Every surface not reserved for art is stacked high with art books and well-read design magazines.

And it’s easy to spot Norris’s wit shining through in tiny moments of whimsy all over the house: Guests who use her powder room, for example, are greeted by a tableau of dozens of faces—numerous Jacob Hashimoto paper pieces floating on the mirror—staring back at them.

The bedroom is mostly done in pale woods and white paint.
Works by Carlos Mollura (left) and Ed Ruscha (right) bookend the bed and nightstand designed by Barbara Barry in Norris’s bright bedroom.

She’s also not afraid to put the art to work. A set of steel pieces, designed by architects Thom Mayne and Michael Rotundi (then partners at Morphosis) for the Walker Art Center in Minneapolis, were installed to create a sculpture garden in the backyard, but two of them are also used as tables on the pool deck. They’re the perfect height for holding a cocktail.

Although at home in the art world, Norris’s work has always straddled the architecture world—which is why she’s being honored with a special award from the architecture school SCI-Arc this Friday. “Most of my best friends are architects,” she says. “That level of intelligence just intrigues me.”

While at the city’s cultural affairs commission, Norris saw the importance of overseeing not just art but urban design for the city. She brought in architects to advise the commission during the approval process for all buildings built on or over city property, essentially transforming LA’s civic landscape.

The living room has light colored floors and furniture, allowing the colorful art to pop. The kitchen has a brightly colored painting, and chairs around a breakfast table pick up those hues.
Top: The living room is designed for entertaining. The black table is by Tony De Los Reyes with a Mark Bradford painting presiding over the fireplace. Bottom: In the kitchen, modern chairs from Design Within Reach pick up the colors from the Devin Troy Strother piece on the wall. Norris’s own collection of tiny Tabasco bottles line the counter below.

Norris is perhaps best known for her own contributions to the public realm—bringing art out of museums and galleries and into LA’s streets and plazas. As a public art consultant, she’s transformed a freeway-adjacent parcel in Santa Monica into an oasis at Tongva Park; turned West Hollywood’s library into an Instagram destination with major art installations by David Wiseman and Shepard Fairey; and tapped street artist Kenny Scharf to paint a parking garage in Pasadena.

At home, she’s still adding to her collection. She rotates her pieces—some of which are currently on loan to museums—from room to room, rearranging sculptures to suit her mood or welcome new acquisitions.

“I’m still a gallery girl,” she says. “I go to galleries and I like to buy my art from the galleries—not from the artist, and not online.”

A dining room has a transparent screen showing modern buildings in front of the window; all the rooms of the lower level open up to a pool; a close up shot of the dining room.
Clockwise from top: In the dining room, a vase by ceramicist Adam Silverman sits before a screen adorned with renderings of buildings designed by Morphosis. Peter Shelton’s sculpture hangs from above; the ground floor’s indoor-outdoor rooms wrap around the pool; in the living room, the pale hues of the walls, fixtures, and furniture allow the art to shine.

From her home office on the second floor—which looks out into a palm-fringed canyon—Norris continues her role as an educator, an ambassador, a tireless booster of Los Angeles’s now-booming art scene. She’s played an influential role in the way the city’s artists and architects have been received worldwide.

But she’s also changed the city from within by bringing art into the LA communities that need it most. “‘Sharing’ is the way I like to think about it,” she says. “I like to make things happen.”

$14.6M Venice home is the most expensive ever sold in the neighborhood

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The eco-friendly residence appeared on Californication

A 5,000-square-foot Venice residence sold yesterday for $14.6 million, making it the priciest home ever sold in the neighborhood by more than $3 million, according to the LA Times.

The seven-bedroom, seven-bath home was designed by its seller, eco-friendly architect David Hertz. Built in 2003, it gained television stardom with a recurring role on the Showtime series Californication.

Situated on a 7,500-square-foot lot, the home is actually a compound of four two-story structures arranged around a central lap pool and connected by enclosed bridges. According to a profile of the residence on Hertz’s website, it was constructed using sustainable materials including recycled wood and a concrete substitute called Syndecrete.

Amenities include a media room, pool house, outdoor kitchen and shower, and a small basketball court.

View of lap pool and courtyard

The Times reports that the home was purchased by an investment group headed by local developer Nick Valencia. The sale price smashed the neighborhood’s previous record of $11.15 million netted by Anjelica Huston’s fortress-like home near the boardwalk. That home sold just three years ago, in early 2014.

It’s no secret that real estate prices in Venice have been escalating wildly in recent years, with some concerned that an influx of tech money could drive home prices even higher. Still, it certainly remains to be seen whether prices like this one will become the new normal.

Both the buyer and seller were represented in the deal by Halton Pardee + Partners and Partners Trust.

1920s bungalow on a Silver Lake stair street asking $950K

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The two-bedroom cottage is a cozy hideaway within a secluded enclave

According to author Charles Fleming’s helpful and informative guidebook Secret Stairs, the hills of Silver Lake are laced with approximately 60 public staircases, dating back to the 1920s-40s, when LA was “well-served by trolleys, streetcars, buses, and light-rail systems.”

Accordingly, many homes that were built along staircase streets lack driveways and/or garages, and are accessible only via stairway, factors that can deter a fair number of house-hunters. But for those looking for something off the proverbial beaten path yet still within walking distance of shops and restaurants, a staircase-street house—such as this 1920s bungalow on Angelus Avenue now on the market—may be just the ticket.

Hidden from passers-by behind a high gate, the cottage contains two bedrooms, one bath, and an open-plan living room/dining room/kitchen area within its 832 square feet. Notable interior details include hardwood and tile floors, archways, built-ins, a living-room fireplace, and multiple French doors allowing for abundant natural light.

The property also features two spacious courtyard areas—one with a hot tub and fountain—along with a separate studio designed, per the listing, “for small scale music or film production.”

Asking price for the hillside home is $950,000, and an open house is scheduled from 2 to 5 p.m. Sunday.

Take a look around Drake’s $10,000/night Benedict Canyon rental

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Canyon views, a home theater, and tons of chandeliers

Drake’s having some work done on his Hidden Hills house (cheerfully nicknamed the YOLO estate), and instead of holing up in a hotel, the performer has secured a pricey rental in Benedict Canyon, TMZ reports.

The six-bedroom, 7.5-bathroom residence has wood-paneled walls, multiple fireplaces, a spacious home theater, and French doors. The large kitchen features an expansive center island, and chandeliers are everywhere, including bedrooms and bathrooms.

The master bedroom holds dual ensuite bathrooms and two walk-in closets, plus direct access to a large balcony with canyon views. The grounds feature an infinity pool, a hot tub, an outdoor fireplace flat screen, and a barbecue. There is also an outdoor dining area and living room.

Guests having trouble finding their way around the grounds and residence can always ask the ‘round-the-clock concierge that comes with the house.

According to Airbnb, the mansion rents for $10,000 a night. (It seems like maybe Drake didn’t foot the bill.) It’s not clear how long the Canadian performer will be staying here, but the listing on Airbnb appears to be unavailable for months into the future.

A pair of new residential projects break ground in Downtown Long Beach

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They’ll bring more than 200 new units to the area

Two sleek new residential developments have broken ground in Downtown Long Beach. Together, the pair of five-story buildings, located within a half-mile of one another, will bring a total of 207 apartments to the area.

The two projects, located at 442 West Ocean Boulevard and 207 East Seaside Way, are being developed by Ensemble Investments and are both designed by Long Beach-based architecture firm Studio T Square.

The 442 West Ocean project will include 95 apartments and 177 parking spaces, while the 207 East Seaside building will have 112 units and 144 spaces. Both projects will have rooftop decks for residents and amenities including a lounge and fitness center. According to plans filed with the city, the 207 East Seaside project will also include flex space that could include a cafe or retail establishment.

Rendering of building seen from pedestrian bridge
Bridge-level cafe space

The Seaside building will be fronted by a striking new pedestrian bridge that the city is constructing to provide a direct link between the convention center and the Long Beach Performing Arts Center.

According to Studio T Square, the building’s design takes cues from the wavy lines of the bridge, with a front deck that neatly connects with the bridge near the building’s entrance.

Construction on both projects is expected to be complete by early 2018. Rents in each building are expected to start around $1,800 per month, with prices up to around $2,500.

Rendering of building from parking lot
Aerial view of rooftop deck
Rendering of building from bridge alongside

Silver Lake Reservoir will start to refill tomorrow

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It’s been empty for almost two years

City officials will begin the process of refilling the Silver Lake Reservoir Tuesday, nearly two years after the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power emptied it back in the summer of 2015.

The refill is happening slightly ahead of schedule, thanks to an unexpected influx of water flowing in through the city’s aqueduct system after one of the wettest winters in years.

LADWP originally planned to bring water back to the reservoir in May, with a slow refill process projected to take up to a year. With the new source of water, however, officials now say it should take just two months.

The reservoir, completed in 1908, was emptied so that LADWP workers could remove it from Los Angeles’s drinking water storage network. Per federal regulations, the city is replacing open air reservoirs like Silver Lake and neighboring Ivanhoe with covered storage facilities like the new Headworks Reservoir, north of Griffith Park.

Since it was emptied, some have pushed for LADWP and city officials to consider plans to repurpose the reservoir as a fully realized public space, but plans for reinventing the body of water have been largely put on the back burner as Silver Lake locals have pushed for a quick refill.

The water starts flowing tomorrow at 5:00 p.m., though those eager to see liquid gushing into the bone-dry reservoir may be disappointed. The refill will start at Ivanhoe (which recently lost its shade balls), with water expected to spill over into the Silver Lake Reservoir in about two weeks.

For $998K, a 1914 Echo Park home filled with original woodwork

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Plus, a wraparound porch

“Nestled under the canopy of a native oak” in Echo Park, you’ll find this two-bedroom home built in 1914. Clad in wood shingle siding and wrapped in a porch that spills onto a wood deck, it gives off cozy cabin vibes.

But it’s not totally isolated from urban-living. Given that it’s located near where the 2 and 5 freeways meet, on the border of Elysian Valley, you might have to contend with the annoying hum of traffic. If so, drown out the noise by getting lost gazing into the beauty that is all of the original wood paneling.

If you want a break from all of that wood (why??) slide into the kitchen, which is dressed in black and white.

Other charming features include a floor-to-ceiling brick fireplace, built-ins, and a clawfoot tub. The property is listed for just shy of $1 million at $998,000.

Scenes from the reopening of Los Angeles State Historic Park

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Gorgeous views of the LA skyline and sprawling lawns perfect for picnicking

Park-poor Los Angeles gained a new gem over the weekend with the reopening of the madeover Los Angeles State Historic Park in Chinatown just off Metro’s Gold Line.

Built on a former rail yard—the site of LA’s first passenger depot and the Western terminus of the Southern Pacific Railroad—the 34-acre park boasts spectacular views of the city’s skyline.

The park has existed as public space for more than a decade. The state purchased it in 2001 after residents rallied to stop a big industrial park and warehouses from being built on the site. But while it has hosted music festivals in the past, including FYF Fest, it never really had any amenities.

Now it does. In the heat on Saturday, residents and politicians celebrated its reopening, flying kites, picnicking, and picking oranges from the public citrus grove. Below are more than a dozen of our favorite photos from opening weekend.


A bridge offers vistas of the LA skyline. “What we like about the park is it gives you a vantage point,” Sean Woods, superintendent of California State Parks, Los Angeles, told KPCC.

The reopening of the park was delayed, in part, because of California’s drought. Without rain, it took a long time for grass to grow. To help it along, the parks department trucked in up to 80,000 gallons of water daily from the new Los Angeles-Glendale Water Reclamation Facility in Glendale.

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A public orange grove was built in partnership with a local art collective called Fallen Fruit, part of its project titled “The Monument to Sharing.”

The trees are planted in metal containers emblazoned with quotes from residents living near the park about what it means to share and be a good neighbor.

URBAN ORANGE GROVES #DTLA #LAStateHistoricPark #OrangeGrove

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An irrigation system uses reclaimed water and bioswales and cisterns to capture rainwater. Everything is irrigated with reclaimed water.

Microclimate-appropriate landscape design. Really, really well done.

A post shared by Daniel Schulz (@dschulz42) on Apr 22, 2017 at 4:13pm PDT

There’s a new parking lot that’s eco-friendly. The ground is permeable and the roof “facilitates rainwater recycling.”

Among the plants dotting the park (not all of them are native): poppies, sage, oaks, sycamore, olive, and pepper trees.

The park abuts “some of the oldest and most historic” neighborhoods in LA that have “deep rooted connections to the beginning of the city,” said Woods. That includes what was once Chavez Ravine (now home to Dodger Stadium), Chinatown (formerly Sonoratown), and Lincoln Heights.

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As the Los Angeles Times pointed out: “There are no swings, jungle gyms, barbecue grills, basketball courts or other pieces of park infrastructure. In their place is a vast open space with drought-tolerant bushes, a giant, crescent-shaped lawn and decomposed granite paths that encourage a stroll.”

#giantbeachball #lashpgo #castateparks #commUNITY #bulldog #bulldogsofinstagram #lou

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LA celebrating Earth Day and the opening of a new 32 acre park in Downtown #LA #earthday #park #weekend #dtla

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Kite runner

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Loving L.A. State Historic Park

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A 1.1-mile track for walking and jogging encircles the park, which is carved into some gentrifying industrial areas. It’s also very close to Metro’s Gold Line.

Before the nearby LA River was turned into a concrete channel, it flowed into the park. LA-based artist Debra Scacco’s etched metal and concrete sculptures are inspired by the historic paths of the river. Someday, the park may connect to the river.

The capacity for events is smaller now (25,000 people), “in part to keep the grass from being trampled,” says LA Downtown News.

Sundays are for strolling #lazySunday #park #picnic #doggo #dtla #chinatown #earthday #conquer_la

A post shared by Lien Chen (@lien_fang) on Apr 23, 2017 at 9:26pm PDT

A welcome center will house volunteers and an interpretive media installation with history and interactive exhibits. In the winter and spring, water will fall off the concave-shaped roof into the rock cisterns below. (They look like fire pits but aren’t.)

New spot.

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Soon, a beer garden and restaurant fabricated from shipping containers will open near the entrance.

My new back yard. #chinatown #iputonformycity

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Vacant westside senior housing could become boutique hotel

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The developer appears to be Oakland As owner Lewis Wolff

An empty retirement community at the western edge of Sawtelle could soon be redeveloped into a hotel with 88 rooms and 500 square feet of ground-level retail space.

Plans filed with the city Thursday don’t reveal much more about the project than that, but the Real Deal reports that the developer listed on the application is closely tied to real estate magnate and Oakland Athletics owner Lewis Wolff.

Once known (rather aspirationally) as Brentwood Manor, the senior living development at 12311 West Santa Monica Boulevard was constructed in 1970. According to the Real Deal, it was purchased for $18.1 million in March by an entity connected to Wolff.

If the prolific Saint Louis-based developer is indeed behind the project, it would be far from his first hotel in the Los Angeles area. His company, Wolff Urban Development, also owns the Fairmont in Santa Monica, along with the Burbank Hilton, and a Marriott Courtyard in Sherman Oaks.

Sunnylands: Royals and presidents enjoyed this modernist masterpiece

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The 200-acre desert retreat is the subject of a new book

Sunnylands—the expansive Rancho Mirage winter retreat of wealthy philanthropists Walter and Leonore Annenberg—has famously hosted presidents, heads of state, royals and celebrities since it was built in 1966.

Now it’s hailed as a masterpiece of midcentury modernism, an exemplar of adaptive reuse and a pioneer in sustainable landscaping practices and green technologies. And since 2012 it’s been open to you: You may visit Sunnylands for free Thursdays through Sundays. (There’s even a cafe onsite).

To honor the estate’s history and legacy, the Southern California chapter of the Society of Architectural Historians will host a free talk on Sunnylands by the estate’s director Janice Lyle at 2 p.m. Sunday at the main branch of the Santa Monica Public Library. The event is pegged to the publication of Lyle’s new book, Sunnylands: America’s Midcentury Masterpiece.

Lyle described Sunnylands as “an estate that draws on the tradition of great country houses, but displays a 20th-century approach that is not traditional.”

“It reflects an interest in the latest architecture and a love of beautiful objects, as well as a willingness to avoid antique furniture and historic approaches to living,” she told Curbed. “Fluid in its spaces and open to the outdoors, the house encourages relaxation, intimacy, and a constant awareness of the constructed landscape.”

The living room of the historic house features many original furniture designs by interior designer William Haines.Photo by Ned Redway
The atrium of the historic house. The sculpture in the center of the atrium is an original casting of Eve, by Auguste Rodin, 1881.Photo by Graydon Wood
 Photo by Ken Hayden

Top: The living room of the historic house features many original furniture designs by interior designer William Haines. Bottom left: The sculpture in the center of the atrium is an original casting of Eve, by Auguste Rodin, 1881. Bottom right: Room of Memories in the historic house.

The Annenbergs wanted a winter getaway in Southern California and commissioned Case Study architect A. Quincy Jones and interior designers William Haines and Ted Graber—noted for popularizing the Hollywood Regency style—in 1963 to create Sunnylands, which is named for the Annenberg ancestral home in Pennsylvania.

 Official White House photos.

Top left: Walter and Lee Annenberg greet President and First Lady Reagan as they arrive via the Marine One helicopter on December 30, 1981. Top right: The Reagans dancing with members of a mariachi band. Bottom: The Reagans reclining on the patio.

Jones came up with the low-slung modernist design for the estate, which now encompasses a 25,000-square-foot main house, a nine-hole golf course, and 13 man-made lakes. At one time it was the largest house in Riverside County.

“A. Quincy Jones achieved a sense of openness and relaxed living with a surprising diagonal entrance, a central garden also on an oblique axis, partition walls that don’t rise to the ceiling, and an egg crate-coffered ceiling connecting the interior and exterior,” Lyle said. “Wide expanses of glass blur the line between indoors and outdoors, pulling the green landscape inside the residence.”

ThoughtCo described the harmony of exterior, interior and environment:

Architect A. Quincy Jones freely used aspects of Frank Lloyd Wright’s organic architecture ideas in the design of Sunnylands. The low, rambling residence becomes integrated within the landscape of southern California—the desert, the San Jacinto Mountains. The pink stucco exterior walls are often faced with eleven-foot lava-stone interior walls from Mexico, used as a backdrop to the Annenberg’s fine art collection.

The main house is notable for its pyramidal pink roof. Pink is a running motif: It’s also the color of the mausoleum that enshrines the remains of the Annenbergs themselves, who died in the 2000s.

 Photo by Ken Hayden, courtesy of The Annenberg Foundation Trust at Sunnylands.

Exterior front view of historic house featuring entry court and Mexican column.

Wallis Annenberg, Walter’s daughter from his first marriage, once described its feeling of “serenity, isolation, vastness of nature” amid the lush green lawns stretching into the desert, according to the Los Angeles Times.

The golf course features 850 olive trees but, according to the New York Times, only two palm trees. The palm trees were added, the story goes, after a visiting President Dwight D. Eisenhower lamented the absence of the region’s signature trees. They’re called the Eisenhower Palms.

 Courtesy of The Annenberg Foundation Trust at Sunnylands.

George H.W. Bush fishing in one of the many well-stocked lakes at Sunnylands in February 1995.

The estate became more than just a winter home. Over the years Sunnylands—at the corner of Frank Sinatra and Bob Hope drives—played host not only to those two stars but also to sports luminaries such as Arnold Palmer and Lee Trevino and Hollywood actors such as Gregory Peck, Jimmy Stewart, and Ginger Rogers.

It also acquired the nickname the “Camp David of the West Coast,” as the New York Times reported in 2012:

Ronald Reagan celebrated New Year’s Eve here 18 times, one of seven presidents who signed the Annenberg guest book. Richard M. Nixon retreated to Sunnylands after his resignation. It was the place to go for celebrities luxuriating in nearby Palm Springs: Frank Sinatra married his fourth wife here. Even Queen Elizabeth II was a regular.

President Barack Obama used Sunnylands as the venue for a summit with China’s President Xi Jinping and another with Jordanian King Abdullah II in 2014.

In 2008, Leonore Annenberg began the process of transferring ownership of Sunnylands to the Annenberg Foundation and commissioned a 17,000-square-foot visitor center, to be called the Sunnylands Center & Gardens, on a 15-acre parcel adjacent to the estate.

Frederick Fisher & Partners designed it, and it was completed in 2011. Fisher references the A. Quincy Jones-designed historic house in his use of lava walls, trellises, and floor-to-ceiling glass, the center said. Michael Smith, who designed the interior of the Obama White House family quarters, handled the Sunnylands center interiors.

Separately, James Burnett designed a 9-acre garden comprising more than 53,000 arid-landscape plants and 1.25 miles of walking paths.

[vimeo 151080042 w=640 h=360]

All told, the construction of the Sunnylands Center & Gardens and restoration of the historic house and grounds, including the golf course and nearby cottages, cost $60.5 million.

The Getty Conservation Institute hosted a panel in 2016 to celebrate the design, conservation, preservation and adaptive reuse of Sunnylands.

Sunnylands also won LEED Gold status; its website says the estate holds a solar farm with 864 solar collectors, an underground geothermal system that heats and cools Sunnylands Center, a new low-water-use irrigation system, and a sustainability team that insures the use of best practices and operates under a Green Vision statement.

Architectural historians have since paid tribute to the estate and its unique place in Southern California architecture.

The Society of Architectural Historians’ page on A. Quincy Jones praised his vision, quoting an excerpt written by Ruth Weisberg: “A. Quincy Jones’s place in architecture is assured by the humanism and beauty of his buildings, their environmental responsiveness, and the enduring significance of the reforms he set in motion.”

 Courtesy of the Annenberg Foundation Trust at Sunnylands

The main house at Sunnylands under construction in the 1960s.

Marilyn Monroe’s Brentwood house is for sale for $6.9M

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It’s a luscious property with citrus trees

This will blow your skirt up: The ravishing Spanish-style home in Brentwood once owned by Marilyn Monroe is returning to the market for $6.9 million.

The actress owned the rambling property—which holds citrus trees, a main house with two bedrooms, a guest house, and a pool—for just a short time in 1962. At age 36, she died in her bedroom four months after buying it, reportedly at the request of her psychiatrist, who advised she put down roots.

She had “[thrown] herself into making a home for herself. She planted an herb garden and in early 1962 traveled to Mexico to purchase authentic furniture, art and tapestries for her new home,” according to Variety.

Before her death, a reporter with Life magazine spent a day with Monroe in the home, telling him, “Anybody who likes my house, I am sure I will get along with.”

Built in 1929, the one-story main house spreads across 2,097 square feet and features tiled floors, arched entryways, pitched ceilings with exposed wood beams, and a newer kitchen. Listing agent Lisa Optican said the it “retains many of the design elements selected by Monroe.”

“When you walk the house and grounds, you’re immediately struck by its serenity and warmth,” she said. “Every owner who has called this property home has been drawn to the same character … The property is romantic, intimate and private.”

Monroe, who was born at Los Angeles General Hospital lived all over the LA area, in Hollywood, Van Nuys, Lankershim, and even Catalina. But the Brentwood house was the only place she ever owned, paying, according to the Los Angeles Times, $75,000.


Frank Sinatra’s Hollywood bungalow is safe—for now

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LADWP reserves the right to demolish it and other buildings soon

A Spanish-style Hollywood bungalow that was a favorite retreat of Frank Sinatra in the 1960s has been given a stay of execution. But it remains under threat of demolition by the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power unless preservationists can persuade the utility to save it.

That seems unlikely unless they can come up with a plan to move the building before May 1. LADWP said it is working with the Los Angeles Conservancy and Hollywood Heritage on such a plan even as it moves forward with a project to expand its operations.

The 1929 bungalow sits on land owned by LADWP at the southern edge of The Lot, a film production studio at the corner of Santa Monica Boulevard and Formosa Avenue.

The Lot began life in 1919 as the Jesse Hampton Studios and became in succession the Pickford-Fairbanks Studio, United Artists, and the Samuel Goldwyn Studio. It remains a full-service studio for TV, film, and commercial production.

The Frank Sinatra Bungalow is one of three structures under threat, according to the Los Angeles Conservancy, which sent a letter to the DWP earlier this month to argue for the buildings’ preservation:

Three historic buildings are planned for demolition, on land immediately south of the West Hollywood property line, acquired by the LADWP in 1950. They include sound mixing stages and a 1920s Spanish bungalow. The stages have significant associations with the making of film, and are named in honor of Gordon Sawyer and John Bonner, former sound director at Samuel Goldwyn Studio and director of special projects at Warner Hollywood Studios.

The Spanish Bungalow was reportedly built in 1929 and later became associated with singer and actor Frank Sinatra. Beginning in 1961, his company, Essex Productions, rented office space and studio facilities at Samuel Goldwyn Studios. He relocated to this location following a dispute and fallout with Desi Arnaz at Desilu Productions, now Paramount Pictures Studio. Sinatra apparently used Sound Stage 7 to record The Concert Sinatra in 1963, and its image appears on the cover. It is believed that during his time and tenure at The Lot, Sinatra used this bungalow as his personal retreat in between productions.

Sinatra shot four movies at the studio, including The Manchurian Candidate, during that time.

LADWP decided not to renew a lease on the Sinatra Bungalow and related buildings at the end of March.

“The DWP and the studio would work together to preserve, as much as feasible, the structures on the studio’s side of the property line,” DWP spokeswoman Amanda Parsons told Curbed.

“The bungalow and several other structures are either partially or totally on LADWP’s side of the property line. Two structures straddle the property line, while the bungalow and another structure are entirely on LADWP’s property,” she said. “LADWP’s project schedule calls for the completion of all demolition activities on LADWP’s property by [May 1, 2017]. The majority of the structures straddling the property line will be demolished. We are discussing the possibility and logistics of having interested parties relocate the bungalow to a new location.”

Preservationists remain hopeful. “DWP commissioners agreed to provide time for the preservation community to look into this further and meet with DWP staff to discuss,” Adrian Scott Fine, the LA Conservancy’s director of advocacy, told Curbed. He added: “There’s no outcome just yet, but we’re happy DWP is taking this seriously and working with us and others that want to come up with alternatives to demolition.”

 via Google Maps

The Sinatra Bungalow, highlighted, sits at the northern edge of LADWP property and the southern edge of The Lot.

Filmmaker Douglas Quill, who has offices on The Lot, has taken it upon himself to advocate for the Sinatra Bungalow. He mounted an online petition (with 775 supporters so far) to save the bungalow and related buildings and spoke at this month’s DWP commissioners’ meeting. “We had a very successful day at the LADWP commissioners meeting,” he told Curbed. “A reprieve has been granted by the DWP so LA Conservancy can explore preservation options.”

Quill has enlisted the support of others who work on The Lot, including Will Ferrell and Adam McKay’s Gary Sanchez Productions and Funny or Die companies.

The best record stores in LA, mapped

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LA’s first record store, Wallichs Music City, opened in 1940 at the corner of Sunset and Vine. Its owner co-founded Capitol Records just two years later, but Music City shuttered in 1978 as chain stores proliferated. We all know the history of the biz from there. We’ve seen a lot of good shops come and go, but for proof that even in the digital age, vinyl is still appreciated—that music lovers are still drawn to analog, face-to-face interaction, and the feeling of something real—look no farther than Los Angeles.

In honor of the Record Store Day (one of the fake holidays that, like Pie Day, is very much worthy of celebrating), we’ve mapped 19 of the best shops in the area now. We know there are more; add your favorites in the comments section below.

Metro finds prehistoric camel bones under future Wilshire/La Brea station

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The station is proving to be a rich source of fossils

Crews at work on the first phase of the Purple Line extension have uncovered more prehistoric fossils dating back to the ice age.

As The Source reports, paleontologists supervising excavation of the future Wilshire/La Brea subway station have identified bones that once belonged to an ancient camel and either a mastodon or mammoth.

Past work on both the Red and Purple Line subway routes has already yielded a trove of artifacts from Los Angeles’s prehistoric past. Most recently, workers stumbled upon a collection of ancient elephant bones, also discovered at the Wilshire/La Brea site.

Even the under-construction Crenshaw/LAX Line, which will run underground through Leimert Park, has proven to be a solid source of geologic relics. Last year, workers found an ancient bison bone beneath the future Martin Luther King Jr. station.

Paleontologists with Cogstone Resource Management have taken the latest fossil’s to the company’s Riverside lab for further analysis, but they’ll eventually be donated to the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County.

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bsGuOE2fdL0?wmode=transparent&rel=0&autohide=1&showinfo=0&enablejsapi=1&start=48]

West Hollywood 2-bedroom in midcentury building asks $625K

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A fenced-in patio and hardwood floors

Just north of Santa Monica Boulevard in West Hollywood, this fantastic condo in a midcentury building is spacious and bright. The 1,200-square-foot unit has a large living room and dining area that are connected via sizable sliding glass doors to a fenced-in patio.

The galley-style kitchen features checkerboard floors and a pass-through window that’s been purposed as bar seating for two.

The two bedrooms are carpeted (dig your toes into that pile!) while the two bathrooms—one of them attached to the master bedroom—have a cool, pastel palette.

Bonus: The complex has a pool.

Last sold in 2002 for $289,000, according to public records, the condo is now listed for $625,000, with $363 in monthly HOA dues.

 
 
DMS