If you want to take a sharp turn toward the seedy, you don’t even have to turn off Santa Monica Boulevard. If you’re coming from West Hollywood, all you have to do is drive east.
But one developer is betting big bucks on a notoriously sketchy stretch in Hollywood with a mixed-use project large enough, it hopes, to be its own safe haven and even a catalyst for gentrification in the area.
AvalonBay Communities Inc. of Arlington, Va., recently spent nearly $100 million to snatch up almost six acres at 6677 W. Santa Monica. It plans to build a $375 million megadevelopment with almost 700 apartments and a 25,000-square-foot retail component.
The project, at Santa Monica and Las Palmas Boulevard, is fully entitled and is being designed while its permits are pending. It sits only blocks away from the West Hollywood city line on La Brea Avenue, and less than a mile from the real estate investment trust’s other development on the boulevard, under construction at 7300 Santa Monica in West Hollywood.
While the properties are close together and on the same boulevard, they might as well be worlds apart.
“Going a mile east is dramatically different,” said Gabe Kadosh, a vice president at Colliers International who is leasing the retail portion of both projects for AvalonBay.
In West Hollywood, the mixed-use building of 371 residential units and 32,300 square feet of retail, already half-leased, is coming out of the ground. The development will be anchored by Trader Joe’s, which was a tenant in the strip mall the project is replacing.
AvalonBay’s Hollywood development, dubbed Ava Hollywood, is expected to break ground in the second quarter of next year and be completed in early 2018.
“On the Hollywood stretch (of Santa Monica), there is check cashing, a doughnut shop, light industrial and chain retail,” Kadosh said. “West Hollywood is retail dense and (higher end). If you were to look at them on a map, you’d say, these projects are so close they should feed off each other, but they are in completely different markets.”
Ava Hollywood would rise a couple of blocks from Donut Time, a shop at the center of what a 2008 Los Angeles Times article called a “gritty swath of Santa Monica Boulevard that is a late-night magnet for transgender and male prostitution.”
By investing hundreds of millions of dollars in the neighborhood, AvalonBay is betting that change is already underway and will be further along by the time its development is completed in three years.
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