Jerry Snyder unveils new plans for Wilshire District site

One of the region’s most prolific commercial developers said he would start building again with the launch of a $150-million high-rise apartment complex in the Wilshire district of Los Angeles.

Builder Jerry Snyder plans to break ground this summer on a 464-unit complex at Wilshire Boulevard and Vermont Avenue, where he had previously announced his intention to build a vertical retail mall.

Apartment development: An article in the Jan. 28 Business section about a planned apartment development at Vermont Avenue and Wilshire Boulevard in Los Angeles referred to City Councilman Herb Wesson as Ed Wesson. —

The recession killed that development, he said, but the apartment market is “very strong” and will soon be ready for new units. Construction has been rare, however, since the economic downturn began and this would be one of the largest new developments in the region.

The Los Angeles apartment market is gaining strength as companies rehire workers, according to a report released Friday by apartment brokerage Marcus Millichap. The completion of new units in Los Angeles is expected to hit a 16-year low in 2011.


Snyder and his J.H. Snyder Co., with partner Michael Wise, are finishing plans for an apartment complex called the Vermont that would put residences in two towers of 25 and 30 stories. The ground level on Wilshire and Vermont would house restaurants and shops.

The design by the Jerde Partnership architecture firm calls for a lobby, pool, gym and recreation center on the seventh floor, above the garage. Tenants might include USC students, members of the Korean community and young professionals such as “echo boomers who don’t want to live in the suburbs,” Snyder said.

The Vermont apartments would add to the residential boomlet at Wilshire and Vermont. Across Wilshire, above a Red Line subway stop, is a seven-story apartment and retail complex with 449 units called Wilshire Vermont Station, completed in 2007.

Urban planners and city officials have encouraged dense development at intersections, such as Vermont and Wilshire, that are major hubs for rail and bus service.

“Development of the vacant parcel across the street is a long-awaited further enhancement of the neighborhood,” said Wilshire Vermont Station developer Dan Rosenfeld of Urban Partners. “More density, more human activity and a fine developer like J.H. Snyder are all good news for Wilshire Center.”

In late 2008, Snyder announced his intention to build a deluxe seven-story shopping center at the intersection after another developer scratched plans for a large-scale condominium project there as the housing market cooled.

“I’m a mad optimist,” Snyder said at the time.

Optimism wasn’t enough, however; his elaborate plans for a vertical mall stopped making sense as the economy continued to sour.

“The world came to an end,” Snyder said, and prospective tenants wouldn’t be able to pay the rents he would need to justify the cost of building the mall. Now, he said, apartments are viable.

“We have to be agile,” Snyder said.

The developer has been building major commercial projects in the region for decades. Among his projects is the $300-million NoHo Commons apartment, retail and office complex in North Hollywood. Snyder also built the $51-million outdoor River mall in Rancho Mirage and the $170-million Bella Terra shopping center in Huntington Beach.

City Councilman Ed Wesson said he was “confident in J.H. Snyder’s plans for this property, and I believe the project will serve as a catalyst for further revitalization in the Mid-Wilshire district,” he said.

Apartments make the most sense, developer Rosenfeld said.

“As the proposal is for a straightforward apartment project, not condos or over-the-top retail, perhaps it is also evidence that we learned something in the wringer of the last three years,” he said.