Business Real Estate

Two vacant L.A. warehouses to be replaced with mixed-use complex

Two vacant warehouses in downtown Los Angeles' growing arts district are being demolished to make way for a 320-unit apartment complex above stores and restaurants.

The project by Lowe Enterprises will include two five-story buildings flanking Garey Street between 1st and 2nd streets. The site was formerly occupied by importer Megatoys, which has moved to the city of Commerce.

Megatoys and financier J.P. Morgan Asset Management are partners with Lowe in developing the complex in a formerly bleak industrial district between Alameda Street and the Los Angeles River. The blocks are part of the arts district, which has taken on a new character in recent years with the addition of residences, restaurants and creative businesses.

The district's mix of warehouses, art studios and old industrial buildings converted to apartments and offices makes it unusual in Los Angeles, Lowe executive Tom Wulf said.

"People used to just say, 'I live downtown.' Now we have neighborhoods downtown, and people make decisions based on what neighborhood they want to live in," he said.

As designed by the architectural firm Togawa Smith Martin Inc., Lowe's project will invoke the historic character of the district by using materials such as iron, steel, brick and weathered wood.

"It will be contemporary with an industrial edge," Wulf said.

The buildings will connect over Garey Street, which will be converted to a public pedestrian walkway lined with residences, shops and restaurants with outdoor seating. The complex will also have private courtyards that will include a swimming pool, fire pits and a dog run.

Residents will have on-site, below-grade parking and a bicycle storage area and maintenance workshop. Wulf expects that most residents will be young professional singles or couples and that monthly rents will be in the low-to-mid-$2,000 range.

The project will cost close to $100 million to build, Wulf said, and should be complete by the third quarter of 2015.

Megatoys was founded by the Woo family. The immigrants from Hong Kong started importing and distributing toys decades ago and grew Megatoys into a substantial company that designs toys and supervises their manufacture in Asia. The Woos are widely credited with establishing downtown L.A.'s Toy Town wholesale trade center.

The Woos secured city approval to build condominiums on their downtown warehouse site in 2009, Wulf said, but the condo market was anemic. The apartment market, meanwhile, took off.

roger.vincent@latimes.com

Twitter: @rogervincent

Copyright © 2014, Los Angeles Times
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