The northwest corner of Wilshire at Rimpau, long an empty lot surrounded by a chain link fence, is being developed as a seven parcel small lot subdivision featuring three-story contemporary town homes. The property faces the Farmer’s Insurance complex to the south, and will bookend the Rimpau entrance to Windsor Square with another new residential building across the street on the east side, the Wilshire Condominiums.
Designed by the architectural firm Modative, a westside firm that builds small lot subdivisions on single lots, the project sits in the Park Mile Specific Plan that keeps new buildings to minimum height and setback restrictions, creating the mile of “park-like” development along this segment of Wilshire Blvd. The small lot subdivision concept has been allowed in LA since 2005, but is just becoming more popular in this area with the resurgence of the real estate market and developers’ interest in selling multiple, fee-free homes on a single lot. LA’s Planning Department recently published Guidelines for small lot subdivisions.
Representatives for the development have presented their plans to the Design Review Board (DRB) of the Park Mile Specific Plan five times over as many months, for ‘consultation’ review.
“It’s been a great collaborative process,” Mathew Jacobs the property owner of 4401 Wilshire LLC, told the Buzz. “We’ve listened to the DRB’s suggestions and incorporated many of them into the design. We are very respectful that this is one of the finest neighborhoods in LA, and we are building homes of premium quality that fit the neighborhood.”
Early on, some DRB board members questioned the contemporary style of the town homes, noting that they are adjacent to the Windsor Square HPOZ known for its many revival style homes, and on Wilshire Boulevard where significant examples of streamline moderne and art deco style still stand. The DRB suggested that the architects put their design in the context of the neighborhood, looking at the size of windows, the quality of materials, and the texture and tactile qualities of buildings in Hancock Park and Windsor Square for reference. The plans continued to be tweaked, and the developer said they have recently submitted their subdivision and DRB applications for final approval.
The project includes two garage spaces for each residence, accessed via a back driveway from Rimpau Blvd, and four guest parking spaces. Proposed height is just under the 45 foot height limit, with the main living area taking up the second floor. The first and third floors house one bedroom and two bedrooms respectively, and the rooftops of each home will have its own trellised deck area. In the plans: bronze anodized aluminum windows and guard rails,Oxford White stucco with charcoal gray accents, as well as finished wood and stone work. The front facades will have raised planters, with olive trees planted near the homes and Golden Medallion trees planted on the parkway.
“We knew this lot would be developed eventually,” Michael Johnson, who owns the Tudor home behind the development, told the Larchmont Buzz. “But in truth, it may be better to have a well-maintained building there than the the empty lot that was a mess, drew in the homeless, and we had to help keep clean. The building may also serve as a noise buffer from Wilshire’s traffic for us too.” He commented that the developer and architect were generous about meeting with the local neighbors to vet their concerns and look at the design.
The developer hopes to break ground in the first quarter of 2015.