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Massive L.A. project destroyed in fire was controversial

A massive downtown L.A. apartment project destroyed in a fire was controversial before it went up in flames

Q: What do we know about the scene of the fire, the Da Vinci apartment complex?

A: Prominent downtown Los Angeles developer Geoffrey Palmer was building a 526-unit, seven-story apartment complex on Fremont Avenue, along the 110 Freeway near Temple Street. 

"Experience urban-style elegance and European living in the heart of downtown Los Angeles. The Da Vinci, the newest member of the Renaissance collection, will offer fifteen unique floor plans to match your lifestyle," the project's website said. "Indulge in world-class amenities, such as a state of the art fitness facility, a full size indoor basketball court, a residential lounge, a library, a theater and a business center."

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Q: The Da Vinci is part of a bigger development trend, right?

A: Yes, Palmer's company is also known for the Orsini, the Medici and other faux-Italian apartment buildings that have risen along the four-level interchange in downtown L.A. 

The complexes have been pioneers in the revitalization of the area, though critics have complained about the architectural style, high rents and size of the buildings.

Q: Wasn't the Da Vinci in the news before the fire?

A: The developer sought a pedestrian bridge that would link the Da Vinci to other complexes in the area and offer residents a route into downtown attractions.

The developer told the city that transients living under the 110 Freeway would pose a safety threat to future renters.

"The best form of self-defense is not being placed in a situation where you have to defend yourself," the company's proposal to city officials stated.

The bridge plan faced criticism from some in downtown and was initially rejected by city planners. However, the City Council approved it in May.

Backers of the bridge insisted that it wasn't about shielding residents from the homeless and was simply a convenience for renters.

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