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Plans Submitted for New 53-Unit Apartment Building at 838 S. La Brea

The empty lot at 838 S. La Brea Ave. (behind the gray fence), where a new 6-story, 50 unit apartment building will soon rise.

A new 6-story, 53-unit mixed use apartment building, with one story of subterranean parking, is in the works for the now-vacant site where the old Ogamdo Cafe building used to stand at 838 S. La Brea.  According to the brief notation available on the Department of Building and Safety’s website, plans for the new project were submitted in August, and have just completed the city’s initial review (a.k.a. Plan Check) process.  No further information is available yet, except that neighbors have received notice that some drilling for soil testing will be performed soon at the site.

A 2009 photo of the Ogamdo Cafe, the last tenant of the building that formerly occupied the site at 838 S. La Brea. (Read the Buzz’s story about the full history of the building here.)

The lot (which actually spans addresses 838-844 S. La Brea) is directly next door to the property at 850 S. La Brea, the original home of the Umami Burger chain, and now the location of the LA Ramen Bar restaurant, where approvals were granted two years ago for a 5-story, 40-unit building. That project, though fully approved, has also not yet begun construction.

Full view of the two parcels – 838 S. La Brea and 850 S. La Brea – where two new apartment buildings, containing a total of 93 new units, are scheduled to be built.
Rendering of the 5-story, 40-unit building approved two years ago for the property at 850 S. La Brea. (Construction has not yet started.) The newly proposed building at 838 S. La Brea would rise in the empty space just to the left of this one.

Conrad Starr, president of the Sycamore Square Neighborhood Association, told the Buzz that he just learned of the project proposed for 838 S. La Brea yesterday, but that he has now reached out to the developer’s representative, Michael Cohanzad of Wiseman Residential, for more information. “I explained to him that we had worked extensively with the developer of the Mansfield (5100 Wilshire),” Starr said, noting that the result of that developer/neighbor cooperation is a building (scheduled to open this fall) that “has been hailed by members of the Sycamore Square community as a gorgeous example of [neighborhood] compatible architecture.”

Starr said the neighbors’ conversations with the Mansfield developer were much more productive than similar interactions for the development approved at 850 S. La Brea two years ago. “Many of us were extremely disheartened when the 850 S La Brea development (ground not yet broken) was approved by City Planning despite considerable community opposition to both its size and incompatible style,” Starr said. But he expressed hope that conversations on the new project at 838 S. La Brea will be more like those for the Mansfield than 850 S. La Brea.

“It’s important to note that neighborhood input has not just been around issues of scale or aesthetics, but of essential quality of life issues that the community is in the best position to express — issues like construction hours, haul routes, street improvements, and parking requirements,” Starr said. “The development planned for 838 S La Brea is only accessible from La Brea. Will construction activities bleed onto the side streets of 8th and 9th? Where will workers park? Where will supplies be delivered during rush hour curb lane restrictions? These are questions that need to be answered before construction begins.”

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Elizabeth Fuller
Elizabeth Fuller
Elizabeth Fuller was born and raised in Minneapolis, MN but has lived in LA since 1991 - with deep roots in both the Sycamore Square and West Adams Heights-Sugar Hill neighborhoods. She spent 10 years with the Greater Wilshire Neighborhood Council, volunteers at Wilshire Crest Elementary School, and has been writing for the Buzz since 2015.

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