Sawtelle Apartment Complex Slated for $300M Sprinkler Retrofit

Sawtelle Apartment Complex Slated for $300M Sprinkler Retrofit
Barrington Plaza

The Barrington Plaza Apartments, in the Sawtelle neighborhood, will remove all of its units – 577 of which are occupied – from the market under the Ellis Act for a sprinkler retrofit that will take several years and cost more than $300 million.

Under the Ellis Act, tenants in rent-controlled units can be removed from the property if the building is being removed from the rental market.

The 712-unit property, which is comprised of three towers, was built in 1961. It was the site of two fires within seven years. The most recent, in early 2020, resulted in a death and several injuries. The first fire, in 2013, led to several injuries. 

Plans were submitted after the 2020 fire to rebuild damaged floors. The city approved those plans, under the condition that sprinklers were installed at the complex.

The improvements, according to documents from owner Santa Monica-based Douglas Emmett Inc., necessitate vacating the towers. Douglas Emmett has already stopped leasing vacant units.

The majority of tenants in the 577 units that are currently occupied are paying market-rate rents, but some are in rent-controlled units and will likely have to pay more to rent elsewhere.

There are currently no provisions for tenants to return to their units once the updates are made. Tenants may have as much as a year to move out. Some lower income tenants could receive nearly $23,000 in financial assistance for the relocation. Tenants who have been in the building for less than three years could qualify for $9,200 in financial assistance, with some tenants receiving something in between.

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