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Monday, Feb 6, 2023

Reinvention Will Be Key to Solutions on Housing

Whether you live in Los Angeles or build here, there are many new demands on your residential experience. The fact is, our housing stock is quickly proving to be outdated, outmoded, out of reach and often out of fashion.

Our design firm has looked at how tomorrow’s homeowners will live, and we’re creating new homes and buildings to meet the need.

Start with new technology and the sharing economy: A few years ago, homebuyers didn’t wonder if leases allowed Airbnb-type privileges. No one asked for car-sharing or electric-vehicle chargers on the premises. Refrigerated storage for grocery deliveries, or rooftop drone access? Unheard of then – but it’s our reality today.

Behind these asks are emerging models in retail and overall shifting demographics in buyer and renter markets. Building owners have responded by adding unique services to their amenity packages to appease younger, more demanding renters and owners — and to compete with other property developers. Amenities such as driver service, laundry service and on-site dog walkers are increasingly popular. Prospective tenants and buyers are willing to pay premiums to have these perceived luxuries.

A second challenge is demographic. Yes, the L.A. market is skewing younger (median age: just over 34 years), and yes, we need to adapt to millennials’ preferences. These younger renters and homebuyers want meaningful experiences they deem to be authentic and high quality. Plus they prefer digital solutions over face-to-face interactions.

Other property owners and real estate companies are forced to follow suit – or lose their share. Research by Carrier Johnson + CULTURE shows that more and more people want to live and work in this region – in fact, far more than new units being built can accommodate. It might seem as though we’re in a construction boom but consider this: Prior to 1990 builders delivered about 200,000 units per decade, compared with less than 100,000 units per decade since 1990.

Another challenge is the split demand: Yes, on one hand we have millennials exploding expectations for living, but on the other we have an aging population to serve. Areas such as Downtown L.A. are driving market-rate and luxury development, but the city desperately needs affordable and workforce housing solutions, too.

At a recent brainstorming session hosted by our firm, we invited developers, owners, top contractors and other experts for what we billed as “an ideas mixer for real estate leaders on the future of housing in Los Angeles.” (The findings will be detailed in a white paper and public events in 2018.) The boisterous brain trust raised some of the key issues for the success of Los Angeles, including increased city density, a need for better mixed-use solutions, and new approaches such as modular construction, co-living, granny flats and micro-units.

More innovation is needed, and a few exemplary new projects point in promising directions. For the lower-income market, Hotel Panama brings 73 affordable single-room units with shared amenities and on-site social services to Skid Row, thanks to the newly adopted L.A. City Adaptive Re-use Ordinance. More multi-use, higher-density solutions are needed at all income levels, such as the new Shoreline Tower in Long Beach, a mixed-use facility with 315 units in one- and two-bedroom and studio layouts. For emerging areas such as Historic Filipinotown, the resort-style Pinnacle 360 serves up a modern fitness center, two pools with cabanas, fire pits, hot tubs, and rooftop sky decks with unobstructed views to both the DTLA skyline and the Hollywood sign.

To serve low-income needs and aspirational millennials, we need creative developers in Los Angeles delivering successful solutions. There are many barriers to building enough – and smart enough – to serve L.A.’s current growth trajectory. With attention to the demands of new technology, the sharing economy, and emerging demographics, we stand a better chance of keeping our best and brightest here, in the city.

Kyle Peterson is director of Carrier Johnson + CULTURE, an architecture, interior design and strategic branding firm with offices in Los Angeles and San Diego.

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