Above anything else, be friendly to surrounding neighborhoods. That's the common theme among three new but very different projects in the works in the L.A. area. Rick Caruso's The Grove at Farmers Market, TrizecHahn Development Corp.'s Hollywood & Highland, and Diversified Developers Realty Corp.'s Long Beach Plaza redevelopment all employ street-oriented designs and hope to lure both locals and tourists by building on the history of the neighborhoods in which they're located. All three projects are within easy walking distance for thousands of residents, and Hollywood & Highland and Long Beach Plaza are both next to subway routes (Red and Blue lines, respectively). While all three projects have many elements in common, they differ in significant ways. Hollywood & Highland was greatly facilitated by City Hall, coming in response to a city-issued bid to redevelop, generate new tax revenues and rejuvenate the area's core. The Long Beach Plaza project is replacing a decrepit mall. And The Grove is being undertaken as a modern complement to the landmark Farmers Market.The Grove at Farmers Market
Developer: Caruso Affiliated Holdings
Size: 640,000 square feet
Caruso's development at Third Street and Fairfax Avenue cashes in on the popularity of malls that mimic downtown streets with European village ambience.
Set to open in 2002, the project is classic Caruso in that it emphasizes the community-based functions of retail in an outdoor environment.
"We're building a mini-downtown," Caruso said. "If you go to the great downtowns, there was always a combination of uses."
The 640,000-square-foot addition to the Farmers Market will take the form of 15 buildings arranged along miniature streets. Each building is designed to resemble a row of storefronts in distinct styles, which range from mission to Italian Renaissance to Art Deco to adobe. An internal transit system will use retrofitted, steel-wheeled Red Line trolleys.
Caruso's approach bucks the conventional trend of rushing shoppers in and out of malls.
"We're turning that model upside down," he said. "We want them to stay for a long time and fall in love with the property."
A diverse and upscale tenant mix, he said, will be crucial to achieving that goal. The Grove will include tenants such as FAO Schwartz, Nordstrom, Banana Republic, The Gap and Wentworth Galleries. And the project includes a 14-screen Pacific Theatres cinema.
Caruso even hopes to steal the hearts of Angelenos with the parking structures.
Toward that end, Caruso is adding indirect lighting, wider stalls than required, an isolated ramping system, landscaping and computerized valet parking.
"We want to make our parking garage the most pleasant parking experience that our customers can get in L.A.," said David Williams, Caruso's vice president of architecture.
"We're trying to build customer loyalty," Caruso said. "My customer is the tenant. The tenant's customer is my guest. I have to make the guest feel comfortable."Hollywood & Highland
Developer: TrizecHahn Development Corp.
Size: 650,000 square feet
Hollywood & Highland is a massive multi-story creation that is already having a tremendous impact on the entire surrounding area.
Sitting in an office at the historic El Capitan theater building overlooking the steel girders of TrizecHahn's project, Lee H. Wagman, president and CEO, pointed to a half-built metal structure that when completed will frame the Hollywood sign for passers-by in a monumental archway.
"This is an absolutely unique site," Wagman said. "Hollywood is an idea known around the world."
That will make it succeed, Wagman said, because the numbers are there. Despite Hollywood Boulevard's gritty edginess, it each year attracts millions of tourists, who for decades have surely been disappointed by the T-shirt shops and baubles that until now greeted them in the so-called entertainment capital of the world.
"We know the visitors are going to come," Wagman said.
That has been a guiding mantra for TrizecHahn, a once-traditional mall developer that has aggressively repositioned itself in urban redevelopment.
Not only does Wagman note there are no department stores or big-box stores in the mix, he stresses that the project would probably have never gotten off the ground if it had them. Instead, the $600 million project will feature a 650-room Renaissance-managed hotel, production studios, restaurants and Mann movie theaters (linked to neighboring Mann's Chinese). Those elements will be notched up with features such as a ballroom catered by Wolfgang Puck's company, a venue for the Academy Awards and live productions, and design elements that will constantly remind visitors that this is home to Hollywood.
TrizecHahn also has plans to own a piece of TV productions made at the studios. The televised exposure that the Academy Awards and movie premieres will bring to its live theater will be considerable. That has already helped TrizecHahn to indirectly earn a reported $75 million over 20 years, after Eastman Kodak Co. bought the naming rights to the live theater.Long Beach Plaza
Developer: Diversified Developers Realty Corp.
Size: 450,000 square-feet
While the much-publicized Queensway Bay retail center in Long Beach is faced with uncertainty, the redevelopment of Long Beach Plaza is moving forward.
The project is seen as a key part of the city's ongoing efforts to redevelop its downtown, especially the area along Pine Avenue.
Diversified Realty Corp., which is also the developer of Queensway Bay, has a $75 million plan to rip apart Long Beach Plaza (located between Third and Sixth streets, Pine Avenue on the west, and Elm Street on the east) and replace it with a pedestrian mall and apartments.
The project is set to break ground this month. It is designed to have 450,000 square feet of retail space (including Wal-Mart and Albertson's), 350 residential units and a 120-room hotel. The city and redevelopment agency are putting more than $18 million into the project, mostly for parking and street work.
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