Construction underway at Movietown Plaza site in West Hollywood

Construction underway at Movietown Plaza site in West Hollywood
The Avalon West Hollywood apartment and shopping complex is under construction on Santa Monica Boulevard at Poinsettia Place. (AvalonBay Communities Inc.)

Work is underway on a long-stalled project in West Hollywood on the site of the former Movietown Plaza shopping center.

The residential and retail complex being built at 7300 Santa Monica Blvd. is one of several in the pipeline in the eastern blocks of West Hollywood.

Virginia real estate investment trust AvalonBay Communities Inc. is developing the 3-acre former Movietown Plaza lot at Santa Monica and Poinsettia Place with 370 apartments, a grocery store, restaurants and shops.

Trader Joe's, a fixture for many years at the now-demolished Movietown mall, has agreed to return as the grocery tenant when the new project is completed in early 2016. The future complex will be called Avalon West Hollywood.

AvalonBay declined to put a value on the new development, but in a document filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission at the end of last year the company put the expected cost at more than $152 million.

AvalonBay picked up the project after a previous developer was unable to complete it.

First proposed in 2006 by Casden Properties, the project was approved by the West Hollywood City Council in 2010 only to fall victim to the economic downturn.

Casden's plans called for a mix of residences, senior affordable units, and retail space accented by multiple landscaped courtyards in a design that included two 10-story structures on the southern end of the site.

When AvalonBay Communities took over the development in 2012, it redesigned the project and reduced the maximum height to seven stories. The company also brought the West Hollywood Community Housing Corp. in as its partner for the 77 affordable housing units.

Avalon West Hollywood was designed by Irvine architecture firm MVE & Partners.

AvalonBay owns or has a financial interest in more than 275 apartment communities in 12 states and the District of Columbia. Among them are several in Southern California cities including Agoura Hills, Burbank, Glendale, Los Angeles, Pasadena and San Dimas.

Twitter: @rogervincent