It's years away, but 70-story downtown tower could change L.A. skyline and 'relationship with vertical living'

A skyscraper that would be the tallest residential building in California has been proposed for downtown Los Angeles as the neighborhood’s housing boom rolls on.

Crescent Heights, a Miami-based developer, submitted a proposal to the city Planning Department this week to build a 70-story apartment building that would stand out in size and design amid the rapidly growing South Park district east of Staples Center.

The 810-foot building with 794 units would be the third-tallest in Los Angeles behind the recently opened Wilshire Grand hotel and office tower and the U.S. Bank Tower office building completed in 1989.

Last year, Crescent Heights completed Ten Thousand, a 40-story luxury apartment complex on Santa Monica Boulevard on the edge of Century City. It also plans to build two residential high-rises next to the famed Hollywood Palladium on Sunset Boulevard.

Its latest high-rise plan, for 1045 S. Olive St., calls for eye-catching cutouts two-thirds of the way up the building that would hold a swimming pool, lounge and gym.

It’s part of a strategy to move Southern California’s vaunted indoor-outdoor lifestyle from suburbia to vertical living spaces in L.A.’s urban core.

Greenery would be found on the balconies that surround the units and on the landscaped outdoor rooftop lounge. The developers hope to plant more than 200 trees on lower-level decks and other parts of the building.

Crescent Heights has “created a vertical village that pays homage to both the historic architectural aesthetic of this city and the new sense of urbanism that has been embraced by downtown,” said company principal Bruce Menin in a statement.

This is not the first time a developer has tried to incorporate the Southern California aesthetic and lifestyle into a residential high-rise.

A nearly 60-story tower proposed last year next to Pershing Square by developer Jeffrey Fish calls for many of the units to have balcony lap pools that extend from the building. It also would feature a “Sky Lobby” allowing light to pass through the tower’s core.

Crescent Heights is just beginning the city approval process, which is expected to take about 18 months, said land use attorney Sara J. Hernandez of law firm Liner, which represents the developer.

If the city approves the $300-million project, it would take about three years to complete construction. The almost five-year timeline would push its arrival well past other big — but not as tall — residential developments under construction downtown, which some market observers fear may become overbuilt in the near future.

Thousands of residential units have recently been erected in South Park and many more are under construction, including the Oceanwide complex on Figueroa Street with 500 condos, the 648-unit Circa apartment towers nearby and Onni Group’s 730 units at 1212 S. Flower St.

“I think there are going to be corrections in the market short term,” said downtown booster Jessica Lall, “but overall we need housing units and we were underbuilt.”

Downtown has about 500,000 daily workers and 70,000 residents, suggesting more potential housing demand among people tired of commuting, said Lall, president of the Central City Assn.

“Downtown is still the safest and best bet for developers to make their investment” pay off, she said.

The proposed Crescent Heights tower will be distinguished by its appearance and living experience, said architect Eran Chen, founder of ODA, the New York firm working on the building’s design.

“This is an opportunity to ask some fundamental questions about L.A.’s relationship with vertical living,” he said.

He thinks there are now enough people in a city celebrated for its backyard open spaces and single-family enclaves to embrace more communal high-rise living as long as it comes with some California flavor.

“From my observation for L.A. and other big cities, there is huge desire by the younger generation to live in city centers in more diverse neighborhoods,” he said.

They prefer to rely on public transportation instead of cars and seek active city sidewalks with shops, restaurants and shared spaces, Chen said.

His plans for the building at Olive and 11th streets, now a cluster of faded one-story commercial buildings, call for a large plaza at the corner that would act as an extension of the sidewalk and create space for community gatherings, art displays and performances.

The 11th Street side of the building would be all storefronts, recessed to allow outdoor seating in front of restaurants. There would also be shops and a food hall with multiple vendors.

Parking for 888 vehicles and 886 bicycles would be provided.

Lall said she favors the company’s proposed tower for Olive Street.

“I get the impression it that it feels very open and takes advantage of natural lighting,” she said.”It elevates the caliber of design and shows what other apartment towers or condos could look like.”

roger.vincent@atimes.com

Follow me: @rogervincent

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