As the Los Angeles Times reported yesterday, the family that owns the property at 5411 Wilshire Blvd. (the NE corner of Wilshire and Cochran, currently the location of a Staples office supply store), is planning to build a new 42-story mixed use tower at the site.
According to the Times story, the project:
“…is being proposed by the property’s longtime owners: the family of Walter N. Marks, a real estate broker and developer who was so active on the boulevard he was called “Mr. Wilshire.”
The Marks family, which has owned the property since 1968, is betting there will be plenty of demand for the 371 apartments — including 56 set aside for low-income residents — when the neighborhood’s Purple Line extension opens in a few years, bringing an expected 50,000 weekday riders.
“There are going to be a lot more people” on Miracle Mile, said Walter N. Marks III. “Industry follows people, my grandfather used to say.”
The family, which also owns and renovated the landmark Helms Bakery District retail complex in Culver City, will seek city approval to build a skyscraper designed by Los Angeles architect Richard Keating, who also designed the 52-story Gas Company Tower office building downtown.”
The building is scheduled to open in 2023, the same year the Purple Line Subway Extension, with a stop at Wilshire/La Brea, just three blocks east, will also open.
Also worth noting is that the project renderings show that the developers plan to retain at least the facade of the 1930s Art Deco Sontag Drug Store building at the eastern end of the block (the NW corner of Wilshire and Cloverdale), and work it into the overall design of the new complex.
While new developments, especially of this size, can often meet with initial resistence from neighbors, this one – despite its size – seems to be on a smoother path, at least so far.
Jim O’Sullivan, President of the Miracle Mile Residential Association, told the Buzz yesterday that “(Developer) Wally (Marks) contacted Ken (Hixon, MMRA Vice President) and I early on with his thoughts and then met with us…Wally, like Jerry Snyder (who is developing a 20-story residential project at 5757 Wilshire Blvd., next to the SAG-AFTRA building) is a class act and I expect a beautiful building.”
And Hixon echoed O’Sullivan’s comments:
“We fully support the project. Jim and I met with Wally Marks to review the project. We appreciate that he is not stinting on the number of affordable units. Wally Marks, like Jerry Snyder, has great respect for the Miracle Mile and its residents and history.
Wilshire Boulevard is the ideal location for high-rise residential. People confuse the MMRA’s commitment to historic preservation as being anti-development. We have always supported development on Wilshire. That is where high-density projects belong, not in our historic residential neighborhood.”
These comments place the MMRA in pretty close agreement with Henry Van Moyland, head of Miracle Mile Forward, a group that has clashed with the MMRA in the past over issues such as the institution of the neighborhood’s Historic Preservation Overlay Zone in 2017. According to the Times story:
“The Miracle Mile “could be much more inviting, a true boulevard,” Van Moyland said. “The Purple Line is a catalyst now for transformation or revival.””
O’Sullivan added that he will be very curious to see more project details in Marks’ city application for the project, and that he also does not know yet whether the project will follow Measure JJJ development guidelines or Transit Oriented Communities standards. But the project will include an Environmental Impact Report, he said, and “there will be plenty of time for public comment.”
Hixon also noted that while the developers will retain the Sontag Drug Store facade, they probably do not plan to seek Historic Cultural Monument status for that bulding. “The MMRA explored HCM for that building and the interior was too remodeled to qualify for landmarking,” Hixon said. “And getting HCM on facades only can be a challenge. But, anyway, the fact that Wally is going to preserve and restore the facade is a win-win for historic preservation. And re-adapting the building for use as a white-tablecloth restaurant will be lovely. It shows Wally’s sensitivity to creating welcoming spaces, like he’s done so well with the Helms Bakery complex.”