Thursday, October 01 2015

The Kaufmann Apartments – Step Up On Colorado – Grand Opening

Thursday, September 24 2015

2015 SCANPH Conference Recap

Tuesday, September 22 2015

Architecture Firm KFA Celebrates 40 Years of Design in Santa Monica – SANTA MONICA MIRROR

Husband-and-wife team Barbara Flammang and Wade Killefer recently celebrated their architecture firm’s 40th anniversary with a party at their Santa Monica headquarters.


Husband-and-wife team Barbara Flammang and Wade Killefer recently celebrated their architecture firm’s 40th anniversary with a party at their Santa Monica headquarters.

POSTED SEP. 18, 2015, 6:00 AM


KFA (Killefer Flammang Architects) recently celebrated its 40th anniversary of design excellence at an outdoor party held in its parking lot at Olympic Blvd. and 17th St. in Santa Monica. Friends, family, clients, and other well-wishers were in abundance – as were the food trucks that catered the event.

The firm was started by husband-and-wife team Barbara Flammang and Wade Killefer, who met at UCLA when they were both getting their masters degrees in architecture. Flammang and Killefer live in Santa Monica and are active members of the community.

KFA has had a significant impact on the local architectural scene, having designed libraries, educational buildings, multifamily housing, and affordable housing.

KFA has played a leading role in securing affordable housing for low-income individuals, including the formerly homeless. KFA has designed approximately 3,500 units of affordable housing, including a dozen single room occupancy hotels and almost 1,000 units on Skid Row.

KFA has also been highly influential in the movement to adapt and re-use historical buildings, especially in Downtown Los Angeles.

Legacy projects include: the Old Bank District, Eastern Columbia building, Ace Hotel, Broadway Hollywood, Taft Building, Title Guarantee building, The Chapman, Rowan Building, Roosevelt Lofts, Pegasus, Pacific Electric lofts, 1010 Wilshire, and Grand Lofts.

This wave of renovations began with the 1999 passage of Los Angeles’ Adaptive Reuse ordinance, and included KFA’s transformative efforts in The Old Bank District.

“The Historic Core of Los Angeles experienced a huge renewal, as many of its stately but abandoned office buildings were repurposed to residential use,” Killefer said. “Downtown’s population increased five-fold and we rehabilitated over 40 historic buildings.”

Closer to home, KFA has made its mark in Santa Monica as well. KFA served as architects for: Pico 11, a 32-unit development on Pico Blvd. off 11th St., which is one of the few apartment projects to be approved by the City of Santa Monica this year; Step up on Colorado, planned permanent supportive housing for homeless individuals; and Seabluff in Playa Vista, new condominiums (construction will start soon).

“Over 40 years we have learned that the best architecture comes from the best clients. We have been lucky to draw inspiration from visionaries who set high goals and pushed us toward them,” Killefer said.

Killefer is on the board of the Santa Monica Boys and Girls Club. Flammang served as board president of the Westside YWCA.

The couple raised two children, Joe and Annie, in Santa Monica. Joe graduated from Loyola High School and later, Dartmouth College. He is now in the field of construction management and development and will marry Jennifer Dunn this October.

Annie, a graduate of Santa Monica High and Bard College, has a specialty in international conflict resolution and is now in Nepal providing post-earthquake relief. Earlier this year she did a stint for Oxfam in South Sudan.

Friday, September 11 2015


By Jason Islas – Santa Monica Next


Downtown Santa Monica is one of the few places in the city where any new housing gets built, including affordable housing. The Kaufmann Apartments at Step Up on Colorado is the latest project to open in the city’s thriving Downtown.

The new building, located less than a block from the Expo light rail stop in Downtown Santa Monica, provides 32 new homes for people who are experiencing homelessness and mental illness.

The project is a collaboration between the nonprofit Step Up, which started in Santa Monica in 1984 specifically to help people who are experiencing homelessness, and Hollywood Community Housing Corporation. All photos were provided by Killefer Flammang Architects (KFA), the firm that designed the building.

Lise Bornstein, a principal with KFA, said that the design was driven by desire to incorporate the building into the community fabric.

“We wanted people to feel like they have roots in their community,” she said. What happens beyond the unit is equally important to what happens in the unit.

A question that helped drive the design was, “How can we organize the building to promote integration into the community?”

To that end, Bornstein said, the design has semi-private balconies, common space within the building, and a front porch feel at the ground level.

“The tenants can sometimes feel isolated, so we wanted [the design] to give them an opportunity for community spaces and gathering spaces that look out into the city,” Bornstein said.

The building is designed to meet at least a LEED Gold — and possibly a LEED Platinum — designation from the U.S. Green Building Council for its sustainability features, including a solar-heated water system and the use of recycled water from the city’s urban runoff treatment facility (SMURF) for irrigation.

Providing well-designed housing for people experiencing chronic homelessness is just one facet of Step Up’s mission, however. It’s also about providing people who live in these buildings with community, said Carolyn Baker, vice president of community development for the nonprofit.

“Housing is healthcare,” she said. Making sure that people experiencing homelessness, many of whom struggle with mental health issues, have a safe place to live is a medical issue, she said.

Step Up buildings provide not only shelter for the most vulnerable members of our community, they also provide “a rich array of support services,” in which tenants can — but are not required to — participate, Baker said.

Those services include medical and mental health care, assistance in accessing whatever benefits tenants may be entitled to, access to whatever benefits they may eligible, job opportunities, vocational programs, and about 60 different types of tenant-driven groups, like art, creative writing, yoga, support circles.

Step Up also provides meals at hub locations, like Step Up on Vine (in Hollywood) — whose opening in 2013 was attended by former president Bill Clinton — and Step Up on Second, just a few blocks away from the new Kauffman Apartments.

The new building marks a milestone for the Santa Monica-based nonprofit. In 2010, when Step Up and Hollywood Community Housing Corporation opened its Step Up on Vine Street location to much fanfare — the ribbon cutting was attended by former president Bill Clinton — the nonprofit announced its commitment to build 200 units to house people experiencing homelessness.

The Kaufmann Apartments at Step Up on Colorado marks the achievement of that goal, said Baker. And, to celebrate the achievement, Step Up will hold an official opening ceremony for the new building on September 24.

But Step Up is not content to stop there, she said. Next, the nonprofit will be targeting homeless vets in Los Angeles and will set a new benchmark: 400 new permanent supportive homes for these vulnerable community members.

Step Up is one of the nonprofits working with the West L.A. Veterans Affairs (VA) campus as it undergoes a master plan design process in order to create new supportive housing for veterans who are experiencing homelessness.

Step Up was an early adopter of the “housing first” model of helping people who are experiencing homelessness. The idea behind the model is to get people into permanent supportive housing first in order to address the root causes that led to those people living on the streets.

Baker recalled one resident who, before moving into a Step Up building, was living in a cardboard box. When she moved into her new apartment, this woman brought the cardboard box with her because it was what she had become used to.

“We moved the box in with her and within a few months, she asked us to get rid of the box,” said Baker.

Step Up, which has about 140 housing units in Santa Monica alone, boasts about a 90 percent retention rate, which means that once they get people into safe homes, those people are likely to stay there, said Baker.

That’s good news, not only if you believe combating homelessness is a moral issue, but also it costs tax payers about 40 percent less to find homes for people than if those people remained without homes, Baker said.

Still, L.A. County has one of the largest population of people who are without homes in the country. While the majority of people experience homelessness for a short period of time, Baker said, there is a core group of about 6,000 people who experience chronic homelessness.

That core group is who Step Up tries to reach, going so far as to putting together “street outreach” teams that consist of medical professionals and people who formerly experienced homelessness. Those teams go out and speak to people living on the streets in order to try to connect them to the services they need.

Baker said, often times people think that those people experiencing homelessness are resistant to getting help. But, in reality, they aren’t “service resistant,” Baker said. They are “system resistant because the system isn’t really designed to meet them where they are.”

Housing first works, but only if there is enough housing. “It’s really a mass issue. There aren’t enough units available,” Baker said. But Step Up — and other nonprofits — are chipping away at the problem little by little.

Santa Monica Next is published thanks to the support of our advertisers: Bike CenterPocrass and De Los Reyes LLC Personal Injury Attorneys and Los Angeles Bicycle Attorney.


Jason Islas is the editor of Santa Monica Next and the director of the Vote Local Campaign. Before joining Next in May 2014, Jason had covered land use, transit, politics and breaking news for The Lookout, the city’s oldest news website, since February 2011.

Tuesday, September 08 2015

How I Made It: Architect Breathes New Life into L.A.’s Historic Core – LA TIMES – Sept. 6, 2015

How I Made It: Architect Breathes New Life into L.A.’s Historic Core
Wade Killefer

By Roger Vincent


Architect Wade Killefer, an expert in converting old buildings to new uses, says he is most proud of his contributions toward creating residences for people of modest economic means. (Kent Nishimura / Los Angeles Times)

The gig: Wade Killefer, who has always liked building things, has become one of the go-to architects for developers who want to convert historic buildings in downtown Los Angeles to new uses such as housing or hotels. Among his most prominent residential conversions are the Art Deco-style Eastern Columbia Building, a former department store on Broadway, and the Pegasus, a former oil company headquarters on Flower Street. But that’s just one specialty for an architect who has also designed single-family homes, libraries, schools and apartment buildings.


The Eastern Columbia Building is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. (Rick Loomis / Los Angeles Times)

Early years: Killefer, 66, grew up in Washington, D.C., and earned a degree in English from Stanford University. Having no particular career in mind upon graduation, he joined a carpenters union to take part in its apprentice program. Soon he decided that his life interests came together in architecture. “Both writing and architecture are about having an idea and then supporting it. They’re just different means of expression,” Killefer said.

Getting launched: Killefer returned to school, securing a graduate degree in architecture at UCLA. There he met his wife and business partner, architect Barbara Flammang. “Barb was a classmate. We were both late to graduate school and had the two worst seats in the studio,” he recalled. Their Santa Monica firm Killefer Flammang Architects just celebrated its 40th anniversary.

Starting small: Many of Killefer’s first jobs involved designing and building houses, and he both drew and literally dug trenches. Soon there was enough demand for his design skills that the architect was able to put down his tool belt and concentrate solely on architecture. He designed a library for a friend and then a private school.

Making a mark: In 1990, the firm completed its first historic renovation, the Mary Andrews Clark Memorial Building on the edge of downtown. The elegant former YWCA residence for young women built in 1913 in the style of a French chateau was converted to housing for low-income single workers. That led to designing conversions of an old office building and the former luxury Town House hotel, both also near downtown, to affordable housing.

Lean years: During the real estate downturn of the 1990s, Killefer concentrated on libraries, schools and other public buildings, including fire stations. His firm became the campus architect for Loyola High School, a Jesuit preparatory school for young men that is one of the oldest schools in Los Angeles. “We’ve had a pretty varied practice,” Killefer said.

Finding a niche: Killefer’s expertise in converting old buildings to new uses made him a likely candidate to join Los Angeles developer Tom Gilmore’s pioneering plan to take advantage of the city’s Adaptive Reuse Ordinance of 1999. Gilmore surprised many real estate industry observers with his financially successful creation of housing, restaurants and shops in rundown former office buildings in downtown’s historic core. Other developers soon followed with similar projects. “Everybody thought Tom would fail,” Killefer said, “and then people said, ‘If that guy can do it, we can do it.'”

Priming the pump: Following that success, Killefer and his team walked the historic core of downtown and in 2001 created a list of buildings that would be suitable for adaptive reuse. Since then, his firm has designed the adaptive reuse of more than 40 downtown buildings. Among the latest downtown are the popular Ace Hotel and the NoMad and Freehand hotels, both under construction in long-vacant office buildings.

la-fi-re-ace-hotel-sold-20150501-001Exterior of the United Artists Theatre in the Ace Hotel at 937 S. Broadway in downtown Los Angeles. (Al Seib/Los Angeles Times)

Speed bumps: Business for architects ebbs and flows with real estate cycles. When the market goes cold, like it did during the last economic downturn, business dries up. Killefer and his wife didn’t take salaries from their firm during a tough year in the late 2000s. “Recessions are brutal,” he said.

Personal best: Killefer said he is most proud of his contributions toward creating residences for people of modest economic means. His latest is the New Pershing Apartments, a 69-unit complex built by the Skid Row Housing Trust at 5th and Main streets in downtown L.A. Killefer’s design saved the three-story facade of the Charnock Block building erected there in 1889 that later became known as the Pershing Hotel.
Family time: Killefer and Flammang live in Santa Monica, where their firm his based. In his off-hours, he likes to spend time outdoors, hiking and fishing. They have two grown children, a daughter who is doing earthquake relief work in Nepal and a son who is a real estate developer — a suprise career choice to Killefer. “When they were growng up, we took them around to look at buildings and they thought there was nothing more boring than that,” he said.

Design trends: The architect supports dense development, especially housing, in the blocks around transportation hubs such as train stations. Most recent buildings are three to seven stories, but Killefer would prefer taller buildings with open space around them. “I hope the next generation will be taller, thinner buildings,” he said.

Twitter: @rogervincent

Copyright © 2015, Los Angeles Times

Friday, September 04 2015

Linda Vista Site Visit

Monday, August 31 2015


Main Graphic 1 V3_LRMayor’s Call for Housing

At the Los Angeles Business Council’s 2014 Mayoral Housing, Transportation & Jobs Summit, Mayor Eric Garcetti challenged the City to build 100,000 new housing units and outlined new strategies to achieve this ambitious goal in an effort to address both population expansion and the increasing housing shortage. With LA County’s population already totaling over 10M people (1/3 of the entire state), the Mayor’s call-to-action is all the more significant as projections estimate an increase of about 634,000 new residents by 2021.

L.A.’s story is one of successive waves of growth spread out over its distinctively vast, open landscape. As we look to the next wave of urban development, it’s clear that significant growth in transportation infrastructure, evolving mobility plans, live/work balance and sustainability are all factors reshaping the ways in which we will inhabit this City.

Campus Projects

This month, KFA spotlights three campus projects currently in design that provide their own uniquely integrated solutions to the Mayor’s request for additional housing. These new developments are reimagining density by offering occupants more than just housing. By taking advantage of urban centers or creating their own, these pedestrian-friendly sites paint an emerging portrait of L.A.

LGBT Center: Urban Mosaic Campus

Welcoming a remarkable 45,000 client visits per month, the Los Angeles LGBT Center is building a new campus in Hollywood that will provide housing and supportive services to the especially vulnerable LGBT community. The Center is partnering with Thomas Safran & Associates to provide 140 housing units for seniors and young adults and 100 beds for homeless youth, creating the first ground up LGBT center in the country. This unique project, centered on providing a holistic approach to homelessness with a combination of housing and support services, explore a concept of community that extends beyond a geographical definition and endeavors to become a prototype for other cause-driven organizations throughout the U.S.

Designed by Leong Leong Architecture with KFA as executive architect, The LGBT Center will weave together multiple sites over a city block into a comprehensive campus that will serve as a focal point for the LGBT Center’s efforts in Los Angeles, and a model for centers throughout the country. Expanding upon the existing arts and cultural Village at Ed Gould Plaza, the new development will include multiple educational and multi-generational transitional and permanent housing programs along with healthcare, family services, and administrative spaces and neighborhood retail.

MGA Campus: Creating a There there?

Call it the influence of the Millennials, or their parents, the baby boomers, the last decade has seen an increasing demand for work­ life balance. Some have even redefined this as ‘work-life integration’ – insisting on flexible programs and culture in the workplace. Coupled with this are the congruent trends by renters for environmental sustainability, increased transit options, and a focus on a localized, walk-able lifestyle. Many developers have picked up on this trend by offering amenity-rich living; and spaces such as dog runs, gyms and roof decks have become a staple for new projects.

When faced with a 24 acre underutilized site of a former LA Times printing plant, the owner of MGA Entertainment looked to the future development potential in the Valley, creating a vision for the MGA Campus by doing away with acres of surface parking and imagining in its place an interwoven campus where the new MGA headquarters and 660 residential units would share over 290,000 SF of open space. Designed with a variety of spaces throughout the site that promote wellness, community and gathering, the pedestrian experience and on-site amenities are anticipated to attract and keep innovative industry talent, while offering a unique and vibrant place to draw local residents.

Bringing higher density to the right location in the Valley, the MGA campus will create a thriving community where acres of surface parking once reined king.

Glendale – Adding to an already thriving urban site

201 Lexington follows a more traditional urban infill approach to development – but on a much bigger scale. Like the MGA Campus project, 201 Lexington promotes a “live-where-you-work” philosophy, acknowledging that shorter commutes are associated with a higher degree of happiness. However, instead of creating a destination, the project uses the City as its amenity, taking advantage of an already flourishing neighborhood and proximity to major employment centers.

Conveniently located in the heart of downtown Glendale’s Orange-Central district, Century West Partner’s 201 Lexington development embeds itself into the already existing commercial fabric of the neighborhood, adding 494 units and over 8,000 SF of retail to the area, and offering its residents a pedestrian’s dream-a plethora of retail and dining experiences, all within walking distance.

Monday, August 31 2015

Reimaging LA: How campus projects are re-shaping Los Angeles

Stepehn Burns headshot_postA Discussion with Stephen Burn, Project Manager, Los Angeles LGBT Center

The Los Angeles LGBT Center is designing a new 183,700 SF campus to better meet the growing demand and need for the Center’s services. The campus will include 140 units of new housing for seniors and young adults, 100 beds for homeless youth, a new senior center, retail space, a new homeless youth center, and a new administrative headquarters. Campuses like the newly designed LGBT are helping to meet current housing demands, as well as becoming another model for developing future residential campuses. The new LGBT Center will be playing its part in reimaging LA as one of the new landmarks in the City. Stephen Burn, Project Manager, Los Angeles LGBT Center, discusses how campus projects are transformational and influential to the City as whole, as well as being impactful to their local neighborhoods.

How does the McCadden Campus project play a part in reshaping/reimagining L.A.?

The Los Angeles LGBT Center has grown from an organization meeting in coffee shops and living rooms to a multi-million dollar operation employing more than 500 people. Our new Campus will open to coincide with 50 years of service to the city and its LGBT residents.

The development will become the site of our new headquarters but also a home, crucially an affordable home, to low-income seniors and youth. In addition, emergency overnight beds for the homeless will be offered along with a diverse range of services for clients in need of legal, financial, educational, health, social and cultural services.

The Center is the world’s largest LGBT services organization and the McCadden Campus will become a beacon to visitors from around the world hoping to replicate the work being done in LA in their own communities.

In the last five decades, the rights of LGBT people have changed dramatically. The new Campus will reflect that change by being open and accessible to all. It will sit proudly on Santa Monica Boulevard, providing a safe space for clients and a welcome to local residents and visitors irrespective of their sexual orientation. As LA adapts to reflect its diverse communities, so too will the Center as it proudly sets about building a Campus that confidently champions the pride and identity of donors, staff, clients, residents and visitors.

How do you see your project influencing or transforming Los Angeles into the future? Do you consider McCadden Campus to be a model for other similar campus developments (not necessarily by the LGBT Center but by others as well)? How so?

The range of on-site services and the diversity of our clients provides a unique model for other LGBT organizations to mirror and follow. We’re seeking to pool resources and benefit from economies of scale that will help guarantee support and services for decades to come. By combining property we already own, on the western side of the street, with the newly acquired land on the eastern side of McCadden, we’ll create a Campus that will be a world’s first for our community.

The organization’s current HQ on Schrader Boulevard will continue to operate but do so as a four-story Federally Qualified Health Center. A mile away from McCadden, the Schrader Building offers primary care, mental health services, a pharmacy and a sexual health clinic to all clients including those who will be based at McCadden. It is situated close to a 100 unit affordable housing block for LGBT seniors, which we oversee. In addition, the Center also operates an HIV AIDS drop in clinic on Santa Monica Boulevard in West Hollywood and Mi Centro, a services center in East LA aimed at the Hispanic community.

While the organization’s footprint spreads throughout the city, the new Campus will become the focal point for much of our activities. However, while centralizing some services it remains important to have locations throughout LA providing services to clients in their own neighborhoods.

Why was it especially important for the McCadden Campus to be situated in this particular location?

Staff at the Center, like kids with their noses against the glass of a candy store, looked longingly across the street at an under-utilized state-owned property. We own and operate a property called The Village on the west side of McCadden and for five years tried to persuade the state to sell us land they owned directly opposite. Eventually, several years and $12.7m after first showing an interest, the land changed hands.

Hollywood attracts people from all over the country and, indeed, around the world. Over the years, it’s become home to many of our most vulnerable clients who all too often find that their dreams don’t work out and they’re in need of help and support.

The new Campus is situated in an area known to and used by many of our clients. Providing in place services to those clients is an essential part of what we do. So, being able to acquire land in a location directly opposite a property we already own and in an area we know has great demand for our services, seems like the right thing to do.

How has your development been received by the local/regional community?

On the whole, the local community is supportive of what we’re proposing to do and elsewhere in the City the backing has been substantial. In the immediate vicinity, some residents are concerned that providing 100 beds for homeless youth and increased services for clients might attract more problem behavior to the area. Our current youth center, situated on Highland Avenue and backing on to McCadden, provides services to clients who, some residents allege, are responsible for an increase in sex worker activity in the area.

While recognizing the need to provide a safe place and supportive services for vulnerable clients, the local community is working with us to ensure the new Campus will feature a design and operate in ways that don’t become a magnet for the areas sex workers or homeless population not receiving services at the Center.

On a broader level, the community support for the project has been phenomenal. The LGBT community is reaching deep into its pockets to help with our Capital Campaign. After initial successes, the target figure for that campaign has been upped from $25m to $30m and we’re well on our way to hitting that number.

Why this project? Why now?

Three words – need, need and need. At the Center, we currently handle 42,000 client visits a month. Demand for our services continues to increase as we better equip ourselves to respond to what it is a client requires.

Our existing affordable housing development for seniors, Triangle Square, may have 100 residents but there are thousands of people on a waiting list to get a place. Our health centers and clinics are bursting at the seams, and clearing out those locations of admin and other staff will enable an expansion of health care services to clients currently at the end of sometimes lengthy waiting lists.

In what ways will the McCadden Campus project integrate the larger community to provide visibility for the LGBT Center?

The Campus will welcome all visitors including those who don’t readily identify as members of the LGBT community. The buildings will be designed to be porous and open at a street level with courtyards, terraces and a plaza providing attractive spaces to mix or shelter from the sun.

At the corner of Santa Monica Boulevard and McCadden, we’re hoping to provide a retail outlet that will appeal to clients and non-clients of the Center. The current plan is to open a coffee shop combined with a bike shop, enabling customers to have their bikes serviced or purchase cycling gear while relaxing with a beverage or snack.

Additionally, we’re creating an area we’re calling a Flex Space at the heart of the Campus. In here, there’ll be visual representations of the LGBT community’s history and heritage. This will become a visible reminder that the Center was built on the shoulders of many who went before.

What are the Center’s plans for encouraging multigenerational interaction between the youth, seniors, and other members of the LGBT community?

The Center has a mentoring scheme now where youth and seniors work together on a number of initiatives. The new Campus will allow us to do this on a larger scale. Shared activities include life and social skills, computer classes, arts projects and mentoring programs.

In what ways would you like to see McCadden Campus flourish? And the surrounding community?

The Campus will flourish only if our clients flourish. It is essential that the building becomes an iconic project because of the way it works with clients. What we don’t want is a complex that looks fabulous in an architecture magazine but is a nightmare to work in.

If we can provide somewhere in which our clients feel safe and respected and which staff are proud to work at then we will be on our way to succeeding.

Helping the general area become a place where anyone can walk in comfort, at any time, without the threat of intimidation or violence hanging in the air, would also count has us having helped the local area to flourish.

Friday, July 24 2015

40 Years: KFA In A Day – Anniversary Video

Tuesday, June 30 2015

An Interview with Jon Blanchard of BLVD Hospitality

Ace Hotel Entire Exterior_LR2

KFA principal John Arnold, AIA spoke to LA developer Jon Blanchard of BLVD Hospitality (the Ace Hotel and SoHo House) about trends in design and adaptive reuse, and the future of Downtown LA.

What do you see trending in Downtown LA?

Condos are definitely coming back. People really want to own a piece of Downtown. Millenials, for lack of a better term, want to have everything in their lives be walkable, and Downtown offers this. I think that living car-free in Los Angeles is happening now, and will only get easier in the future. Downtown is going to be it for a long time. LA’s land costs are still significantly cheaper than places like New York, and this is attracting a lot of American and foreign capital to Downtown.

Are there any other areas that are competing with Downtown to be THE walkable urban center of LA County?

I don’t think so. Downtown LA has the infrastructure in place – amenities, grocery stores, restaurants and especially transportation – that gives it an edge over other places like Glendale and Pasadena. Downtown has an ease of connectivity that is less prevalent in other parts of the City. Also, the City is trending pro-growth and making development easier and smoother – LADBS, the Planning Department, and the Mayor have been really stepping up lately to make the process better and quicker. Santa Monica will always have its appeal, especially with the Expo Line opening, but the opportunities for growth are so limited there.

What do you see happening Downtown in the next 10 years?

I see the Convention Center expanding, which will spur more hospitality and retail growth in South Park and south of the historic core all the way to the I-10. I think the industrial areas between the Arts District and the I-10 will continue to be developed as the land there becomes more valuable for residential, creative office, and retail uses, with industrial uses moving south towards Vernon. The one-story warehouses that give the Arts District its character will continue to be turned into galleries, retail, and food and beverage venues. The connection between Downtown and the Arts District will become stronger through Skid Row, which will have a mix of development there that will include housing and services for the less fortunate.

What are some of the more exciting current developments Downtown?

The possible extension of the Red Line into the Arts District would have a huge impact. I think the new Sixth Street bridge is also a big positive, and could help extend opportunities further eastward into Boyle Heights, which I think could become LA’s Williamsburg. There is a lot of real estate activity east of Chinatown towards the river, and extending towards Lincoln Heights. I’m hoping that Downtown will have bike sharing soon like other big cities already have.

Do you see development extending west of the 110?

Yes, towards MacArthur Park especially, and the areas closest to the Convention Center in Pico Union.

What’s happening with city planning policies to preserve the industrial lands by the river and in the Arts District?

I think there is a split at City Hall about that. There are some council members and planners who see that the land closest to Downtown is more valuable for residential, creative office, hospitality, and retail than it is for low-rise industrial, and the potential there for tax revenue. There are some politicians that are still fighting to keep the land industrial, but I think the writing is in on the wall for greater density and non-industrial development.

What’s the future of adaptive reuse?

I think within the next 10 years all the big adaptive reuse opportunities in Downtown will be gone. There will only be small ones remaining for boutique development as the current owners gradually give them up for rehabilitation.

Then what?

Vertical. Downtown will keep going up and up.

 Is Type III construction on its way out in Downtown?

I think so. I think once high-rise construction starts penciling out as land costs go up, mid-rise construction will start to become less attractive to developers.

What are your favorite places Downtown?

I know I’m biased, but I think the Ace Hotel is fantastic and has already had a huge impact on the area south of 9th St. As you know, I love Bar Ama [in the Old Bank District], as well as Bestia [in the Arts District]. I’ll give Bottega Louie a special shout out for being a big catalyst on 7th St. I think the Last Remaining Bookstore is an awesome, unique space Downtown – it’s such a cool place. 

Do you think LA has a signature design aesthetic that isn’t handed down from New York?

Yes, and it will only become more distinct. There are the typical ideas in LA about light, the great weather, and indoor-outdoor living that drive design more than they do in New York, Chicago and San Francisco. LA is more open, lighter, and friendlier, which is a departure from the darker, more inward-looking design aesthetic of New York. Roof top venues exist in the other cities, but they are at their best in LA. Developers and hospitality operators know that design is competitive and that they aren’t the only cool kids on the block. Everyone is looking for the next big idea beyond what has already been done in New York or down the street. This competition will inevitably lead to fresh design, and a lot of it will be tailored to take advantage of Downtown’s unique assets, including its historic nature. I do see design in LA becoming more formal and sophisticated. LA’s food culture will also continue to advance and be distinctive from other cities.

Speaking of fresh ideas, do you have any development secrets to share?

I’m not going to tell too many secrets, but we are working with our partners on some hospitality concepts that will be truly unique to the market, and driven by Southern California culture. That’s all I have to say.